Then there are the New York Jets.
The Jets crave turmoil like beer drinkers crave salted snacks. They seek out turmoil. They welcome it, embrace it. They buy it dinner and drinks, and persuade it to spend the night. In fact, they’ve developed an unhealthy relationship with turmoil, one that will eventually have an ugly ending.
Football players are not exactly white-collar, middle-management types. They’re practitioners of violent acts, albeit in the context of a popular game. They get angry. They sneer and fume and growl. They beat the heck out of each other, huddle up, and then do it some more.
So it’s not as though turmoil and violence are unacquainted. They’re cousins.
But one of the key tricks to winning a Super Bowl is to harness the violence and channel it into the opposite of turmoil: efficient stability. If you look back at past champions, the overwhelming majority of them lived by that concept. They didn’t allow outside distractions to take away from team goals. They didn’t let inner discord or dissatisfaction fester to the point where it affected performance.
You’d probably have to go all the way back to the 1985 Chicago Bears to find a team that was a bona fide circus as well as a football team. Those rollicking Bears, with head coach Mike Ditka feuding with defensive coordinator Buddy Ryan, with quarterback Jim McMahon saying something outrageous anytime someone put a mike in his face, managed to prosper in the midst of turmoil. Of course, it helped that those Bears might have been the greatest single team in history, so good that turmoil didn’t matter.
Yet in just about every other instance, it does matter. The Dallas Cowboys of the 1990s were also a rambunctious bunch, but there wasn’t much negative energy around that team. They were just a collection of larger-than-life personalities who happened to be outstanding football players.
Really, the Jets should be at a Zen retreat in a full lotus position contemplating a Bodhi tree. Instead, they’re acting like college freshmen after a first taste of beer.
Some around the Jets seem confused that bringing in Tim Tebow would cause such a stir. Owner Woody Johnson said as much the other day: “I think the enormity of the coverage kind of surprised me a little bit.” Really? That’s odd, it didn’t really surprise anyone else in this solar system.
As long as Tebow is on the team, the quarterback situation will be questioned by outsiders. Starter Mark Sanchez does not have the stature in the game to have immunity from that. And turmoil at the quarterback position means turmoil everywhere. When Boomer Esiason comes out and declares that the Jets should cut Tebow, it’s clear the problem is being noticed.
Then there are the recent fights in practice. Ordinarily, that’s not panic button stuff. Fights have occurred in training camps and practices since football began. But with the Jets, given their recent behavioral history, it reflects a lack of discipline and focus. Head coach Rex Ryan made his charges run as punishment for the fisticuffs, yet it’s hardly a solution for the lack of maturity that afflicts this franchise.
The nation grieved for those hurt, killed and affected by the Boston Marathon bombings. After one of the suspects was caught on Friday — following a day-long lockdown and manhunt — sports returned to Boston over the weekend.
Cornerback Antonio Cromartie recently knocked the Jets’ receivers, announcing that he was the second-best wide receiver on the team. Head coach Rex Ryan had this to say afterward: “I’m aware of what was said. O.K.? I’m on top of it. … and it will not be a problem.”
It’s already a problem, Rex.
It’s easy to blame this unrest solely on Ryan, who sets the brash tone for the rest of the club. But owner Johnson deserves more of it. He presides over this lunacy. You don’t see Robert Kraft in New England or the Rooney family in Pittsburgh tolerating these kinds of distractions.
Johnson’s problem is that he suffers from Giants Envy. The New York Giants have won two Super Bowls in the last five seasons. The Jets have one Super Bowl victory — in 1969. Certainly he is eager to win, but while he waits to do so, he also seems determined for his team to appear on the back pages of more tabloids than the Giants.
Creating lots of turmoil will achieve the latter goal. But it’s poison for the former.
Michael Ventre is a regular contributor to NBCSports.com. Follow him on Twitter http://twitter.com/#!/MichaelVentre44.
CSN: Brian Urlacher, who played 13 seasons for the Bears, announced his retirement from football Wenesday on his personal twitter account.
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