Skip Bayless Absolves ESPN Of Responsibility For Tebowmania: "He Created The Circus" (Video, Transcript)







On the day the New York Jets waived quarterback Tim Tebow, Skip Bayless claimed that while neither he nor ESPN is responsible for the "circus" that the player developed, "we certainly drove the bandwagon."

On the day the New York Jets waived quarterback Tim Tebow, Skip Bayless claimed that while neither he nor ESPN is responsible for the “circus” that the player developed, “we certainly drove the bandwagon.”

(Originally published April 29; reposted following a SportsRants server issue.)

As expected, the New York Jets, upon drafting quarterback Geno Smith in the second round of the NFL Draft, cut Tim Tebow.

And as expected, it was a topic of discussion on ESPN’s “First Take” on Monday morning.

The most surprising part was that resident Tebow apologist Skip Bayless refused to personally take responsibility for the “circus” that ensued: he insists that it was created by Tebow himself.

Oh, so you mean that “All He Does Is Win” remix, which is hosted on ESPN’s own “First Take” channel on YouTube, is hardly to blame for being part of the circus?

Video available here; transcript follows:

STEPHEN A. SMITH: I’ve thought long and hard about this subject over these last few hours, and I’m gonna be your friend here, and… I’m just gonna put something out there, because I want you to have the floor to explain yourself to what I’m about to accuse you of. And I want you to explain it to a lot of Tebow critics out there —

SKIP BAYLESS: Have you been reading Twitter again? I know (“First Take” hostess Cari Champion) has.

SMITH: No. Seriously. Seriously, I have not. I’m very serious about this. Because, Skip, the boy can’t throw. And that’s how I feel… The other thing about it, Skip… is that, I think it’s to the point where Tim Tebow doesn’t resign himself to the fact that he’s gonna have to play a different position, that he’s gonna be out of the NFL, because nobody’s gonna want him as a quarterback. Which brings me to you. Because, Skip Bayless, I believe that you deserve the opportunity to answer to critics out there, and particularly NFL pundits, commentators, etc. And I just heard this from Chris Mortensen this morning on “Mike And Mike” when he pointed out how nobody is going to want Tim Tebow, because they don’t want the circus to come to town. The executives, the coaches, having their thing scrutinized on an elevated level, because they consider Tim Tebow a circus. By that, they mean, the media scrutiny. By that, they mean ESPN obviously being a culprit to some degree, along with other networks. Skip, if we are a culprit, meaning the network, I have to look at you. Because you love this guy. You believed in him. You were ahead of the curb. You told us — to your credit, you told us he was gonna win a playoff game; you told us he just had the “it” factor; you pointed out how he said he’d never make a Pro Bowl; you were right! You were right, actually. I give you credit for that, because I certainly didn’t see that from him. So I’m not knocking you for that. And I know, and I speak for you as your friend by saying, you never had malicious intent. You just believed in the kid, and you were unapologetic about it. But Skip, people are saying that that created the circus. And the circus is what they don’t want. They don’t even give Tim Tebow a chance – it’s almost like they don’t even give him a chance to really look at his football skills objectively, because they’re still worried about the circus. What does Skip Bayless have to say to those out there who believe that the circus-type atmosphere is primarily your fault?

BAYLESS: First of all, I don’t love Tim Tebow personally; I have no personal relationship with him whatsoever.

SMITH: I understand.

BAYLESS: I do believe in him, as a football player, as a winning quarterback who can do it his way, unconventionally. The way I saw it in Florida; the way I saw him beat my Oklahoma Sooners in the National Championship Game. Stephen A., Tim Tebow created the circus when he took over the 1-4 Broncos and won seven of his next eight games. Wouldn’t that create a national circus? You’ve giving us a lot of power here on this platform, right? If you say it’s, that we did it here on this show? Really? I – I mean, as much as I love this show and believe in this show, how can we create that? Tim did it himself. He beat the Pittsburgh Steelers’ number-one ranked defense. He had, in the last four minutes of NFL games, in his first year as a starting quarterback, he had the number one [quarterback rating] in all of pro football in the last, I think it’s five minutes of those games. He created the circus, Stephen A. How many comebacks did he pull off? How many miracles did he make? You kept saying, ‘He touches you, and you, too, shall be healed.’ I don’t know how he did it, he just did it. And he did it, and he did it again. So the circus got created. I did predict the circus, if you will. We certainly drove the bandwagon; we were way ahead of that curve, but I do agree with your —

SMITH: You were.

BAYLESS: Yeah, well, well, this show was. But I do agree with your premise. The country, the world is so fascinated by Tim Tebow, how does he do it? That, the attention he draws is nuclear. So, wherever he goes, as you say, it’s going to attract nuclear media coverage. He did in training camp with the Jets; our show didn’t go, but a lot of other people went. So, I agree. But does somebody want to win football games? I’m going to stand by what I said at midseason, and kept saying all the rest of the year: There were, I can’t remember what I counted up, twelve or fourteen teams that would have been better off with Tim Tebow as their starting quarterback. Not because I love him, I’m just talking about, do you want to win or not? If you can’t take the heat of the circus, fine… Stick with Blaine Gabbert. Stick with Chad Henne. Go ahead. Finish two-and, whatever you’re gonna finish, you know, win three games, win four. Maybe you can get Johnny Football [Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel] next year, I don’t know. But if you want to win games, if you want to be better than you were, he’s out there, he’s available, for nothing! You can get him for nothing right now!

SMITH: For the record, for the record, I’m ridin’ with you. I’m your boy. I just wanted to make sure that I gave you an opportunity to answer that stuff, because to be quite honest with you, I’m tired of answering it. I don’t think he can throw, but I do know that you were on point with what you said he was going to do, and I think that if people are going to call it a circus, and they’re going to accuse you of really contributing to it, or igniting, per se, “the circus,” you had a right to be heard on it. I’m good with it. I’m good with it.

BAYLESS: I appreciate it.

2013 NFL Schedule: The Primetime Games: Broncos, Falcons, 49ers, Giants, Patriots, Redskins Have Five Games Each







Robert Griffin III and the Washington Redskins will play five games in primetime this season, starting with the 2013 opener against the Philadelphia Eagles on September 9 on ESPN.

Robert Griffin III and the Washington Redskins will play five games in primetime this season, starting with the 2013 opener against the Philadelphia Eagles on September 9 on ESPN.

Here is the list of all the primetime games scheduled for the 2013 NFL season.

Commentary to follow… Actually, I’ll get the back-patting out of the way early: I called the Ravens/Broncos opener on September 5, and I called the Washington Redskins getting five primetime games this season, up from just one last year.

And here are the games:

Thursday, September 5 – Baltimore Ravens @ Denver Broncos – 8:30 PM ET – NBC

Sunday, September 8 – New York Giants @ Dallas Cowboys – 8:30 PM ET – NBC

Monday, September 9 – Philadelphia Eagles @ Washington Redskins – 7:10 PM ET – ESPN

Monday, September 9 –  Houston Texans @ San Diego Chargers – 10:20 PM ET – ESPN

Thursday, September 12 – New York Jets @ New England Patriots – 8:25 PM ET – NFL Network

Sunday, September 15 – San Francisco 49ers @ Seattle Seahawks – 8:30 PM ET – NBC

Monday, September 16 – Pittsburgh Steelers @ Cincinnati Bengals – 8:40 PM ET – ESPN

Thursday, September 19 – Kansas City Chiefs @ Philadelphia Eagles – 8:25 PM ET – NFL Network

Sunday, September 22 – Chicago Bears @ Pittsburgh Steelers – 8:30 PM ET – NBC

Monday, September 23 – Oakland Raiders @ Denver Broncos – 8:40 PM ET – ESPN

Thursday, September 26 – San Francisco 49ers @ St. Louis Rams – 8:25 PM ET – NFL Network

Sunday, September 29 – New England Patriots @ Atlanta Falcoms – 8:30 PM ET – NBC

Monday, September 30 – Miami Dolphins @ New Orleans Saints – 8:40 PM ET – ESPN

Thursday, October 3 – Buffalo Bills @ Cleveland Browns – 8:25 PM ET – NFL Network

Sunday, October 6 – Houston Texans @ San Francisco 49ers – 8:30 PM ET – NBC

Monday, October 7 – New York Jets @ Atlanta Falcons – 8:40 PM ET – ESPN

Thursday, October 10 – New York Giants @ Chicago Bears – 8:25 PM ET – NFL Network

Sunday, October 13 – Washington Redskins @ Dallas Cowboys – 8:30 PM ET – NBC

Monday, October 14 – Indianapolis Colts @ San Diego Chargers – 8:40 PM ET – ESPN

Thursday, October 17 – Seattle Seahawks @ Arizona Cardinals – 8:25 PM ET – NFL Network

Sunday, October 20 – Denver Broncos @ Indianapolis Colts – 8:30 PM ET – NBC

Monday, October 21 – Minnesota Vikings @ New York Giants – 8:40 PM ET – ESPN

Thursday, October 24 – Carolina Panthers @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers – 8:25 PM ET – NFL Network

Sunday, October 27 – Green Bay Packers @ Minnesota Vikings – 8:30 PM ET – NBC

Monday, October 28 – Seattle Seahawks @ St. Louis Rams – 8:40 PM ET – ESPN

Thursday, October 31 – Cincinnati Bengals @ Miami Dolphins – 8:25 PM ET – NFL Network

Sunday, November 3 – Indianapolis Colts @ Houston Texans – 8:30 PM ET – NBC

Monday, November 4 – Chicago Bears @ Green Bay Packers – 8:40 PM ET – ESPN

Thursday, November 7 – Washington Redskins @ Minnesota Vikings – 8:25 PM ET – NFL Network

Sunday, November 10 – Dallas Cowboys @ New Orleans Saints – 8:30 PM ET – NBC

Monday, November 11 – Miami Dolphins @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers – 8:40 PM ET – ESPN

Thursday, November 14 –Indianapolis Colts @ Tennessee Titans – 8:25 PM ET – NFL Network

Sunday, November 17 – Green Bay Packers @ New York Giants – 8:30 PM ET – NBC

Monday, November 18 – New England Patriots @ Carolina Panthers – 8:40 PM ET – ESPN

Thursday, November 21 – New Orleans Saints @ Atlanta Falcons – 8:25 PM ET – NFL Network

Sunday, November 24 – Denver Broncos @ New England Patriots – 8:30 PM ET – NBC

Monday, November 25 – San Francisco 49ers @ Washington Redskins – 8:40 PM ET – ESPN

Thursday, November 28 (Thanksgiving) – Pittsburgh Steelers @ Baltimore Ravens – 8:20 PM ET – NBC

Sunday, December 1 – New York Giants @ Washington Redskins – 8:30 PM ET – NBC

Monday, December 2 – New Orleans Saints @ Seattle Seahawks – 8:40 PM ET – ESPN

Thursday, December 5 – Houston Texans @ Jacksonville Jaguars – 8:25 PM ET – NFL Network

Sunday, December 8 – Atlanta Falcons @ Green Bay Packers – 8:30 PM ET – NBC

Monday, December 9 – Dallas Cowboys @ Chicago Bears – 8:40 PM ET – ESPN

Thursday, December 12 – San Diego Chargers @ Denver Broncos – 8:25 PM ET – NFL Network

Sunday, December 15 – Cincinnati Bengals @ Pittsburgh Steelers – 8:30 PM ET – NBC

Monday, December 16 – Baltimore Ravens @ Detroit Lions – 8:40 PM ET – ESPN

Sunday, December 22 – New England Patriots @ Baltimore Ravens – 8:30 PM ET – NBC

Monday, December 23 – Atlanta Falcons @ San Francisco 49ers – 8:40 PM ET – ESPN

Sunday, December 29 – [Teams to be determined following Week 16] – 8:30 PM ET – NBC

TEAMS WITH FIVE PRIMETIME GAMES: Atlanta Falcons, Denver Broncos, New England Patriots, New York Giants, San Francisco 49ers, Washington Redskins.

TEAMS WITH FOUR PRIMETIME GAMES: Baltimore Ravens, Chicago Bears, Dallas Cowboys, Green Bay Packers, Houston Texans, Indianapolis Colts, New Orleans Saints, Pittsburgh Steelers, Seattle Seahawks.

TEAMS WITH THREE PRIMETIME GAMES: Cincinnati Bengals, Miami Dolphins, Minnesota Vikings, San Diego Chargers.

TEAMS WITH TWO PRIMETIME GAMES: Carolina Panthers, New York Jets, Philadelphia Eagles, St. Louis Rams, Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

TEAMS WITH ONE PRIMETIME GAME: Arizona Cardinals, Buffalo Bills, Cleveland Browns, Detroit Lions, Jacksonville Jaguars, Kansas City Chiefs, Oakland Raiders, Tennessee Titans.


OBSERVATIONS: So, let me get this straight: The Baltimore Ravens win the Super Bowl, yet the runner-up gets one more primetime game in the ensuing season than the World Champions? Explain that to me.

Also, explain to me how the NFL didn’t greenlight the Denver Broncos going to Dallas on Thanksgiving Day. This was a given when the AFC opponents for the Cowboys were released at the top of the year. Or so I thought. Now, it’s going to be a chance to pass out with tryptophan in between another Packers/Lions matinee and the Ravens hosting another Thanksgiving night game, this time against the division rival Pittsburgh Steelers.

I wonder if Peyton Manning not getting a Thanksgiving date with Tony Romo was a byproduct of the Broncos actually hosting the NFL kickoff game.

Predictably, the Eagles/Chiefs game with Andy Reid bringing a new squad into Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia is an NFL Network Thursday night affair.

Predictably, that’s the Chiefs’ lone primetime game. The Jaguars’ sole primetime tilt in 2013 is also on NFLN, as was the case last year. Ditto for the Browns and the Bills, who actually play each other on an NFLN game; the Bills and the Dolphins killed two birds with one Thursday night primetime stone last season.

Thr Dolphins improve from one primetime game last year to three this year. Same with the Vikings. The Colts go from one primetime game last season to four this season. And I’ve already told you about the Redskins’ maxing out at five games, up from one last year.

Further proof NBC loves the NFC East: The Cowboys and Giants open the “Sunday Night Football” 2013 campaign. The Cowboys will appear on “SNF” three times this year, as will the Giants. Two of the Redskins’ five night contests are on NBC; two of them will air on ESPN. Eagles? Nowhere to be found on NBC’s initial schedule. Of course, the latter half of the season allows flex scheduling, so if the Eagles are actually a good team, they’ll likely see more than just the two games (down from five last year() they’ve been scheduled this year. In other words: the Cowboys/Eagles game that was not flexed out late last season might be the last time in awhile you’ll hear Al Michaels working an Eagles game.

And for the first time in recent memory, there are no Saturday games scheduled. The Bay City Rollers will now have to find alternate ways to be preoccupied this year.

Holy Harassment: Pastor Of Dallas Church Where Tim Tebow Will Be Appearing Demands Retraction From NBC Sports Blogger







Dr. Robert Jeffress, the pastor of First Baptist Church, where Jets quarterback Tim Tebow will be speaking in April, demanded a retraction from an NBC Sports blogger.

Dr. Robert Jeffress, the pastor of First Baptist Church, where Jets quarterback Tim Tebow will be speaking in April, demanded a retraction from an NBC Sports blogger.

It looks as if Tim Tebow will be making an annual ritual of speaking at a Dallas-area church every spring.

Last year, it was at the Celebration Church, where his Easter Sunday appearance drew up to 20,000 followers. Roughly a week after that gig was announced, Tebow, who had previously led the Denver Broncos to a miracle playoff win over the Pittsburgh Steelers – but would be vanquished by the New England Patriots the following week – was traded to the New York Jets, where he would spend most of the 2012 season on the bench.

Now, after the start of the 2013 Lenten season – in which Tebow could again be traded, perhaps to the Jacksonville Jaguars – the First Baptist Church in Dallas has announced that the nomad first-cum-second-string quarterback will be appearing at their house of worship on Sunday, April 28, a mere four weeks after Easter.

As you would expect, the usual news sources reported this – including NBC Sports, though not by way of their “Pro Football Talk” unit (at least, not yet). No, there was an item about Tebow’s appearance at First Baptist Church posted on the section of NBC Sports’ website dubbed “Off The Bench,” a collection of odd and weird sports stories usually written by Rick Chandler.

“It seems that lately Tim Tebow has been making more speaking appearances in church than he has quarterback appearances in NFL games,” starts Chandler’s piece, which was originally titled, “Tim Tebow to speak at virulently anti-gay, anti-Semitic Dallas megachurch,” and also referred to the church’s lead pastor, Dr. Robert Jeffress, as “a virulently anti-gay and anti-Semitic evangelical Christian.”

Chandler’s item went on to cite examples of the pastor’s being “anti-gay” and “anti-Semitic,” quoting a passage from a Huffington Post item, which itself cited stories about Jeffress from the ThinkProgress website, as well as The Christian Post. “Is Tebow’s appearance at First Baptist Church an ipso facto endorsement of Jeffress’ views?,” Chandler questioned, before writing his belief that Tebow likely “saw the word ‘megachurch’ and got excited about speaking to a lot of like-minded people, and just forgot to do his due diligence on the guy in charge.”

Since that piece was published, Jeffress went after its author and his employer for failing to due its due diligence on him.

“Nothing could be further from the truth,” the pastor told Fox News, denouncing Chandler’s depiction of the church as “anti-gay” and “anti-Semitic” in his post. “We are a very pro-Israel church. To say that Jesus Christ is the only way for a person to be saved is not anti-Semitic.

“I would like NBC Sports to acknowledge that they made an error in their reporting and relied on secondary sources instead of doing their own reporting and fact-finding like any credible news organization ought to,” Jeffress added.

Since then, Chandler has updated his description of Jeffress as “a controversial evangelical Christian who has made quite a name for himself by referring to other religions as ‘heretical’, and that re-electing Obama would lead to the ‘rise of the anti-Christ’.” Also, while the title of the item was updated to refer only to a “controversial Dallas megachurch,” the references to “anti-gay” and “anti-Semitic” remain in the post’s URL.

Meanwhile, both the “anti-gay” and “anti-Semitic” labels given to Jeffress remain on the Huffington Post item that Chandler originally cited as the source for his story – and continues to be linked in Chandler’s post.

“This is another example of gross inaccuracies supported by the liberal press with no resemblance to truth whatsoever,” the pastor complained. “This is part of not just a liberal agenda, but sloppy journalism.”

Jeffress also suspects that it’s part of a vast “Jet-wing” conspiracy.

“This is another way to try to attack [Tim Tebow] for his Christian beliefs,” Jeffress contended. “Most discerning people realize this was an ambush, not of us so much, but of Tim Tebow and the beliefs we hold dear.

“I think the long knives have been out for Tim for some time.”

Earlier this week, Chandler also authored an item about “sports-related Twitter reaction” to the resignation of Pope Benedict, which was titled, “Pope Tebow I?”

Also, just hours before his Tebow/First Baptist Church item, Chandler penned a post about the Minnesota Twins’ single-A franchise, the Fort Myers Miracle, announcing a “Marco Rubio Water Bottle Giveaway” promotion, tying in a moment from the Florida Governor’s Republican response to President Obama’s recent State of the Union address, in which he quickly reached for and sipped from a water bottle at one point.

Concludes Chandler’s piece: “May I also suggest a dunking booth?”

Rick Chandler. A pawn of the liberal media? Nah.

UPDATE, 2.21.13: Tebow has canceled his scheduled appearance at First Baptist Church. No word if they’re negotiating with Greg McElroy to give the sermon at the April 28th mass.

Mark Schlereth, Hannah Storm On ESPN's Candid Camera Questioning Tim Tebow's Future







ESPN viewers on Tuesday were treated to a private conversation between Mark Schlereth and Hannah Storm, and the topic was the future of Tim Tebow in the NFL.

ESPN viewers on Tuesday were treated to a private conversation between Mark Schlereth and Hannah Storm, and the topic was the future of Tim Tebow in the NFL.

Once upon a time, ESPN was a shameless promoter in Tim Tebow – and they weren’t afraid to show it.

Former ESPN personalities weren’t afraid to admit that the network was pro-Tebow.

Even more so after his trade to the New York Jets, where he would become a seldom-used backup quarterback.

So one year removed from leading the Denver Broncos to an improbable playoff victory, he’s watching the playoffs at home. And judging by his Twitter feed – so far this year, his tweets have consisted of nothing but retweets – clearly, he’s at a loss for words.

But it sounds like a couple of ESPN personalities aren’t.

On Tuesday, during coverage of Super Bowl Media Day, ESPN had inadvertently cut away from a press conference with San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick to the middle of a conversation between Hannah Storm and Mark Schlereth.

They appeared to be talking about a quarterback – and it wasn’t Kaepernick.

Based on what we could gather, brand-new grandfather Schlereth – who should be hosting ESPN’s “SportsNation” by now – was discussing potential future use for Tebow – and it didn’t sound like his future was bright, in Schlereth’s view.

And Storm, who actually looks quite nice, thank you, weeks removed from that horrific gas grill incident, seemed to buy what the former Broncos guard was selling.

Here’s the transcript:


MARK SCHLERETH: He’s like a tight end, basically.

STORM: Oh, yeah, yeah… Oh, yeah… Yeah, that’s interesting.

SCHLERETH: But I, I have to tell you, I talked to a bunch of the Broncos coaches, and… I just don’t know if he’s a fluent enough athlete to go over and play tight end, because he doesn’t catch the ball naturally, either.

STORM: Oh. And — okay, okay, okay. Yeah… Sure. Sure.

STAGE DIRECTOR: Okay, stand by, guys…

JIM HARBAUGH: Well, the way he played, ugh…

And at that point, ESPN cut to another presser with Niners head coach Jim Harbaugh.

Now, granted, Schlereth never mentioned Tebow by name. But it wouldn’t be the first time he spoke of the quarterback in a negative light.

Also, it’s actually not the first time an ESPN talking head spoke ill will of Tebow on the air (at least Merril Hoge knew he was on camera).

So what led to this snafu? Was it sabotage from a Worldwide Leader insider who sought payback on the network for going wall-to-wall Tebow for many times over the last year or so?

Remember, ESPN recently went on the record and admitted that they did spend a bit too much time on their air with “Tebow time.”

Depending on what franchise Tebow ends up with in the 2013-14 season, we’ll see if the network is true to its word (like, for starters, whether or not August 15 of this year will be a regularly scheduled broadcast day).

But regardless of which side of the Tim Tebow fence ESPN may be on, I’m sure this is one piece of embarrassing video that they wish never crashed their Super Bowl party.

Mike Francesa Gives "Inside Edition" The Handwave Treatment







Mike Francesa isn’t a fan of “Inside Edition.” He reportedly flipped out at a cameraman from the show who was roaming WFAN, asking its hosts for comment on Jets head coach Rex Ryan’s unique tattoo.

Let’s just say that Friday was a bad day to get on Mike Francesa’s bad side.

Well, any day ending with “Y” in particular, but especially the first Friday of 2013.

The top sports story on this day in New York City, where Francesa’s afternoon drive radio show is based: the discovery of a tattoo on New York Jets head coach Rex Ryan’s arm, depicting his wife, Michelle, clad in a Jets jersey with the number 6 on it – 6 is Mark Sanchez’s number, and as far as we can tell, she appears to be Tebowing in the drawing; of course, Tim Tebow is the Jets’ backup quarterback – for now, anyway.

The source of the photo of the tattoo, by the way, was a paparazzi working on behalf of the New York Daily News.

Anyway, later that day, Daily News sports media columnist Bob Raissman reported via a source that as an unidentified TV station or network was making the rounds at the studios of New York’s leading sports radio station, WFAN, soliciting opinions from hosts on Ryan’s one-of-a-kind ink, ‘FAN franchise Francesa “got ticked… when some TV peon dared stick a camera in his face.”

Based on what we could gather, the only media outlet that was fielding comments from WFAN hosts about Ryan’s tattoo on Friday was the syndicated news program “Inside Edition,” which has already garnered reaction from Craig Carton, one half of WFAN’s morning show “Boomer and Carton,” and Joe Benigno, one of the midday co-hosts on WFAN – and one of the “slobs” responsible for Francesa’s rant about his messy studio at the start of his Friday show, as “Mike’s On” airs right after “Joe And Evan.” During that open, Francesa suggested WFAN now “fumigate” his studio before his program.

We wouldn’t be surprised if he also called for an exterminator for the tabloid TV shows.

By the way, if you’re looking for video of the “Inside Edition” report on Rex Ryan’s tattoo featuring the WFAN talkies’ takes, it may air on their daily show on Monday (check local listings) or as early as today on the weekend edition of their show (check local listings).

Merril Hoge: Tim Tebow Is "Phony As A Three-Dollar Bill," Would "Set Franchise Back Further" If He Went To Jaguars

Merril Hoge argued that New York Jets quarterback Tim Tebow, on top of being “not a good football player,” isn’t even a team player, and that might hurt whatever value he has left, should he go to the Jacksonville Jaguars. “He would set the franchise back further, if that is a possible feat.”

There was a juicy debate on ESPN on Christmas Eve morning.

No, it was not on “First Take.”

But yes, it was about Tim Tebow.

During the Monday morning edition of “SportsCenter,” a panel of analysts discussed Tebow’s role – or lack thereof – during the New York Jets’ 27-17 loss at home to the San Diego Chargers on Sunday. Coach Rex Ryan named Greg McElroy as their starting quarterback for the game after Mark Sanchez came up short in Tennessee last Monday night. And all McElroy did was get sacked nearly a dozen times.

Adding fuel to the fire that has already enveloped the embers of an already torched season, Tebow claimed, according to sources, that he wanted no part of the Wildcat offense if he was not going to start the Jets’ home finale. This is why you saw wideout Jeremy Kerley work the Wildcat during the game (and in the process, pick up a better QB rating than any of the Jets’ three quarterbacks, as well as the Giants’ Eli Manning yesterday) and not Tebow.

Anyway, part of the four-person “SportsCenter” panel debating “Tebow no-go” was Merril Hoge, who has been known to have less than positive things to say about Tebow in the past. Days before his trade to the Jets, Hoge said Tebow’s “IQ as a football player is not very good.”

Well, it didn’t take a genius that Hoge was far from Tebow’s foxhole in this situation, as well.

“To me, it smells like three-day-old fish,” Hoge said. “I think he’s phony as a three-dollar bill, because at the end of the day, what have I heard, that he would do ‘anything, at anytime you asked me to do it, I’ll do it.’ And all of a sudden, now that’s unacceptable? That’s also, ‘now, I want to play quarterback, or I’m not gonna play Wildcat’?… If [the Jets] said, ‘Listen, you’re just gonna play Wildcat, and [McElroy’s] gonna play our quarterback, Tim Tebow, being the teammate that he is, accepts that, because he says ‘I’ll do anything for the team.’ That’s all I’ve ever heard about him. Well, I think this now shows really what he’s about.

“He got mad because he wasn’t going to be the quarterback,” he continued. “So he’s… now sulking…There shouldn’t even be a story coming out of here, if he did what the coaches asked him to do. He got upset because he wasn’t going to be the starting quarterback.

“If you are for the team… then, guess what, whatever that coach makes that decision, sure, you can be upset, but you still do what you can for the team. You don’t make a rift, you don’t sit there and argue, you don’t take yourself out, ‘well, don’t play me on the Wildcat’.”

After Adam Schefter makes an excuse for Gang Green (“it was a culmination of a full season of frustration and disappointment, where basically, he thought that he would get the chance to be the number two [quarterback]”), Hoge says this:

“Here’s what happened in New York. Okay? They didn’t realize how bad Tim Tebow was. Once he comes in there, and they got to see the sampling, they’re like, ‘Oh my gosh,’ okay? Not only can he not play quarterback, he’s not really a good football player, either. He’s an okay football player.”

He then had a warning for the NFL franchise in Tebow’s hometown that is all but a lock to acquire the quarterback next year.

“Jacksonville Jaguars, beware,” Hoge exclaimed. “If you think you’re gonna bring Tim Tebow in there to change your organization around, and bring a wind in there, and bring fans in there, you are crazy. The only way Jacksonville’s going to bring their fans back, you bring a winning organization together. This guy, he’s not going to win for the Jacksonville Jaguars. He is not going to do that. All he would do is set the franchise back further, if that is a possible feat, because this organization is down as far as you get. The last person they need is a guy like this. Now that we’re starting to see even his true colors… then he has not proven he is good enough to be a starter in the National Football League. If he had shown that, the New York Jets would start him.”

Something tells me Merril Hoge isn’t going to be getting any Christmas cards from Tim Tebow apologist Skip Bayless this year.

Concussions, Linsanity And Tebowmania: Sports Media Journalists Look Back At 2012

In this scene from SNY’s “The Year In Review” of 2012, Daily News sports media columnist Bob Raissman takes the Post’s Phil Mushnick to school.

Christmas time means it’s almost the end of the year – and that means many year-end specials.

The regional sports network SNY has once again assembled a “Year In Sports” special for 2012, consisting in discussions of the biggest topics in the sports world not only in New York City, but nationally as well.

The local sports media panel consisted of Bob Raissman of the New York Daily News, Phil Mushnick of the New York Post, and Neil Best of New York Newsday, all of whom appeared on the 2011 edition of “The Year In Sports.” This year, the trio is joined by their counterpart from The New York Times, Ken Belson.

One of the topics discussed during the national window was the phenomenon that was Linsanity, when Jeremy Lin had led the Knicks for a remarkable stretch. He currently plays for the Houston Rockets – but the show’s moderator, Chris Carlin, asked if Linsanity would have even reached such heights if, say, Lin had never played in New York at all.

“Not one fan needed the media to tell you that that guy did something special to that team,” Mushnick contested. “No one had to read a paper, turn on the radio, watch TV, other than the [Knicks] game.”

“The beauty of the Linsanity story,” according to Best, “compared to Tebow, he actually did do something.”

In the same segment the brief Linsanity period in New York was discussed, the seemingly outgoing Tebowmania period in New York was also touched on.

“Jeremy Lin kind of came and went,” said Best. “The staying power of this Tebow story is amazing.”

“It’s driven by the media,” remarked Raissman on the media’s fixation with the Jets’ backup quarterback. “He’s not dressing, and they’re writing stories about him.”

Raissman also argued – as he has in past Daily News columns – that networks that covered Jets games this season showed more shots of Tebow on the sidelines than Jets players that are actually playing.

“We have to give this guy credit for the way he has handled this,” Best said, “because with this ridiculous spotlight on him, he has not wavered, not complained; he’s been accessible with the media.”

(By the way, not too long after the special was recorded, Tebow did kinda complain a bit.)

Also discussed by the New York sports media writers was the surreal year R.A. Dickey had for the New York Mets. “He’s a genuine character,” opined Belson. “He’ll stand at his locker and talk to you forever… You can’t help but like the guy.”

That did not seem to be the case when during the Mets’ Christmas party, he discussed his contract situation at length. “This guy was asked a question, and he gives what he always gives, an honest answer,” said Raissman. “It’s interesting to watch… the guy go from hero to bum.”

(Since the taping of the special, the Cy Young award winner has gone from New York to Toronto.)

The foursome also talked about the swift resolution of the Bernie Madoff situation involving the Mets; the future of the Yankees franchise if the team’s YES Network is sold to Fox magnate Rupert Murdoch (Raissman: “You look at everything Fox has gotten into and owns the majorityship: they’re not there to be sitting in the back of the bus; they’ll be driving the bus”); and the media’s role in the fate of the New York City Marathon after Hurricane Sandy crippled the city – and not one of them mentioned Mike Francesa – at least not in that discussion.

The locals were asked about the possibility of Francesa and his old WFAN on-air buddy, Chris “Mad Dog” Russo, reuniting on the radio.

“I’m sure there’s a shot, but no,” answered Mushnick. “They’d be killing each other.”

Best affirmed that the two “do not hate each other,” they just “got sick of each other professionally.”

“Why pay them both the kind of money they’re making,” asked Raissman. “You think Francesa’s gonna give Dog part of his salary? The Pope would never do that… He’s doing his own thing with his ratings; [WFAN] don’t have to pay two guys.”

Best pointed out that Francesa could be retiring in 2014; Raissman suspects it’s a contract negotiation.

Best: “I think he’s serious about maybe walking away in 2014.”

Raissman: “Yeah, right… You’ll have to carry him out of that studio.”

The national panel consisted of Sports Business Journal’s John Ourand and Sports Illustrated’s Richard Deitsch, both making return appearances this year; plus panel newcomers Rachel Cohen from the Associated Press, and the Wall Street Journal’s Matthew Futterman. The latter had a strong opinion on the impact of concussions in the NFL.

“It’s the old journalism adage, you have to follow the money. This is cigarettes, this is asbestos, this is another big liability case, and how do those cases end? Usually, they end in really big settlements. And at some point, the NFL is probably, I think, going to have to write a very large check to a lot of people, and I don’t think it’s gonna be five years. If you let this thing drag out for five years, it’s going to be a big mistake.”

Deitsch argued that only something “catastrophic” such as “deaths on the field” would negatively impact the league. “It is a violent game; I think people have accepted that.”

When the current NHL lockout and whether or not it could be a death knell to the hockey league was brought up, after Carlin pointed out “ratings have gone down continually” before the lockout, Deitsch chimed in with: “Chris, there’s nothing more I love than hunting and fishing shows on the NBC Sports Network.” (NBCSN would be airing NHL games right about now, had there been no lockout.) Deitsch believes that viewership and attendance levels will be retained, but at “a far lower base than the NFL and the NBA,” it will take between two and four years.”

“The fans might forgive once,” Cohen argued, “I don’t know if they’ll forgive twice.”

Ourand suggested that the league consider contration in order to survive. “There’s value to having teams… in Florida and… in Phoenix,” Futterman replied, “but if you’re going to do that, you have to figure out a way to support them, because those teams can’t seem to support themselves.”

As was the case with the New York sports media panel, the red meat that is Tim Tebow was also thrown out to the national sports media panel.

Ourand: “He is such a fascinating character nationally, and polarizing. People just want to know what’s happening with him.”

Carlin: “Why is he so fascinating, especially this year when he hasn’t been on the field?”

Deitsch: “Well, he’s fascinating for [ESPN boss] John Skipper because no network has ridden Tebow harder than ESPN.”

And with social media playing a huge role in the Olympics – for viewers as a complaining device, mostly – Twitter’s existence vis a vis sports events was also discussed.

“Twitter is a game changer,” Deitsch said. “It’s become the water cooler conversation for sports fans… The fact is, we now live in a universe where the second screen is how we watch TV: first screen, we look at TV; second screen, we want to be social with our friends and family, and Twitter is among the best social emdia services you can have for sports.”

“It feels like the event’s over, and you gotta keep looking at your computer, and looking at your iPhone,” Futterman said, adding that “it can be a little frustrating” and “distracting” to the sports fan.

It can also be distracting for athletes, in a way. “Every time you put an athlete on Twitter, you give him another excuse not to grant you an interview,” Futterman argued. “And that’s my real problem with it… I think we empower it sometimes too much, in the sense that — I don’t need to talk to you, just follow my Twitter feed.”

Warned Ourand: “You do have to worry much more about what you put out there and what you tweet… But it’s changed the way people watch sports, period.”

Ourand also commented on the changing landscape of college sports, predicting that there will be “more realignment” in college football to the tune of “four 16-team conferences.”

Quoth Deitsch: “Money is driving this ship.”

Cohen: “It’s very obvious, they’re following the money.”

Futterman joked that eventually in college football, there will be “two conferences: one would be ESPN, and the other is Fox.” Yet he added: “They [schools] need the money. They gotta get it from somewhere, and TV seems to be the place where they’re going to get it.”

Members of both panels were asked to choose what they thought was their biggest stories or personalities of 2012, and what they think will be the biggest story in 2013 – but I won’t spoil it for you. (Okay, I’ll share one: Ourand says he’s looking forward to the launch of the new Fox Sports One cable network. “It’s the latest potential competitor to ESPN, and I’m dying to see what it looks like.”)

Catch the “Geico SportsNite: 2012: The Year In Sports” special when it re-airs for the remainder of the year on SNY. The special will be rebroadcast on SNY at the following dates and times: Thursday, December 20, 2 PM; Sunday, December 23, 3 PM; Wednesday, December 26, 7:30 PM; Saturday, December 29, 9 PM; and Tuesday, January 1, 2013 (New Year’s Day) at 12 Noon (all times Eastern).