One year after bringing Tim Tebow to Broadway, creating a nationwide fascination that slowly evolved into controversy, the New York Jets on Monday made the long-anticipated move of releasing one of the NFL’s most popular players.
The Jets confirmed the release in a three-paragraph news release, a long way from his Super Bowl-sized news conference last March.
We have a great deal of respect for Tim Tebow,” coach Rex Ryan said. “Unfortunately, things did not work out the way we all had hoped. Tim is an extremely hard worker, evident by the shape he came back in this offseason. We wish him the best moving forward.”
Ryan and general manager John Idzik informed Tebow early Monday morning in a face-to-face meeting at the team’s facility before he was expected to work out with teammates, a source said. Tebow left the building shortly thereafter.
Tebow was dressed in his workout clothes Monday when he was called to Idzik’s office, according to league sources.
So ends one of the strangest chapters in team history — maybe in league history.
Tebow received rock-star media coverage from the moment he arrived. His introductory news conference last March drew more than 200 media members, highly unusual for a backup quarterback. The Jets were criticized for the excess.
After using a second-round pick on Geno Smith this past weekend, the Jets had six quarterbacks on the roster, and someone had to go. The Jets tried for months to trade Tebow, sources said. His release was earlier reported by the New York Post.
The team’s plan always was to take no more than five quarterbacks into its organized team activities. When no other team offered even a seventh-round draft pick for Tebow by the conclusion of the NFL draft on Saturday, the decision was imminent, sources said.
The Jets had given permission this offseason to Tebow’s agent, Jimmy Sexton, to try to seek a trade, a source familiar with situation said. More than one team reached out to see whether Tebow was willing to switch positions from quarterback to tight end, but he was not.
Various members of the Jets organization were warming to Tebow this offseason, which is one reason Idzik released the quarterback Monday morning, the source said. Idzik did not want the type of Tebow distractions in 2013 that last year’s team endured.
Tebow attended the first two weeks of the offseason program. In fact, he reported 12 pounds under his 2012 playing weight. Despite vague comments by team officials, they never had any intention of retaining him.
Editor’s note: Chris Kluwe is a punter for the Minnesota Vikings of the National Football League. He is an ambassador for Athlete Ally, an organization working to end homophobia in sports, as are Brendon Ayanbadejo of the Baltimore Ravens and Scott Fujita of the New Orleans Saints.
(CNN) — “Don’t be a distraction.”
These words are pounded into every single NFL player’s head from the day he enters the league until the day he leaves (and I would imagine it holds true for just about every professional sport).
The same message, over and over and over — “The team comes first,” “Sacrifice your personal goals to win,” “Only be judged by what goes on between the lines” — which is why I find it unsurprising that there are no openly gay athletes in any of the big four professional sports leagues in the U.S.: the NFL, NBA, NHL, and MLB.
The message is pushed on us so hard, in fact, that players run the very real risk of losing their jobs if the team deems them too much of a distraction, and unfortunately it seems gay players feel that being comfortable with who they are has to take second place to keeping their jobs.
This isn’t right.
It’s not right that professional sports, and especially the professional sports media, have created an environment where gay players are willing to hide essential components of themselves as human beings in order to pursue their dreams, in order to not be a distraction. It’s not right that our insatiable lust for sports coverage creates an atmosphere where someone would willingly subordinate his life to a backward and bigoted worldview in order to stay employed.
It’s not right that we can’t just accept someone for who he is.
Why do people care so much about someone else’s sexuality? Why do people give two s***s how someone else lives his life? Why do people have this absolutely idiotic notion that being gay has any sort of effect on how well a player can play football, or basketball, or baseball? Why the f*** do I even have to write this column for a major news organization to talk about something that shouldn’t even remotely be a factor in sports?
Well, the reason is simple. I’m writing this because no gay player is currently out, and the first gay player who eventually does come out needs to know that — despite all the indoctrination from the league about not being a distraction — if he’s the one to take the first step, he will have allies. He will have support. He will have those of us who realize that people’s sexuality doesn’t define who they are, just as their jobs don’t define who they are, and that guys who bring our wives and children to games and team events are no different than those who would bring their husbands and children.
Most importantly, I’m writing this so that coaches, managers, players, owners and fans realize that the first gay player who comes out won’t spontaneously cause rainbows to erupt out of everyone’s rear.
In professional sports, the players on a team are a team. We eat together. We practice together. We watch film together, and we succeed or fail together. We see each other more than our own families during the season. To think that a gay player is suddenly going to destroy all that because he’s out is asinine.
The idea that a gay player will be a distraction needs to change.
Coaches, administrative personnel — will an openly gay player bring extra attention? Maybe, but guess what — there’s a whole bunch of other crap that happens during the season every year, anything from sexting to arrests to profane letters, and somehow we’ve managed to find a way through it each time without the entire edifice of football collapsing into ruin.
Players — Those of you worried about a gay teammate checking out your ass in the shower, or hitting on you in the steam room, or bringing too much attention to the team — I have four simple words for you. Grow the f*** up. This is our job, we are adults, so would you kindly act like one?
There are millions of people across America who work with gay co-workers every day, and they handle their business without riotous orgies consuming the work environment. In the extremely unlikely event that a gay player harasses you? We have an HR department. File a complaint, just the way a female employee would if you harassed her. If the media want to ask you about a gay teammate? He’s a teammate, and you’re focused on winning — together. As a team.
And finally, to the gay player who does eventually come out, whoever that brave individual happens to be — will you have to deal with media attention, with heightened scrutiny? Yes. Despite everything Brendon, Scott, myself, and all your other allies do, despite all the articles we write and interviews we give, despite the growing acceptance across this entire country, there are going to be people who insist on looking at you through the lens of your sexuality, and not at your skills as a football player. But you know what? All of us understand the truth.
Seattle Seahawks defensive end Chris Clemons on Tuesday fired off a series of tweets, some of which came in response to his Twitter followers, in which he said that a gay player coming out would represent a “selfish act” that would “immediately separate a lockerroom (sic) and divide a team.”
A Pro Bowl alternate this season, Clemons was the leader in sacks for a Seahawks team that boasted one of the league’s best defenses and advanced to the second round of the playoffs.
Jake Long has made his decision. And the St. Louis Rams have a new left tackle.
NFL.com’s Albert Breer reported late Sunday night that Long and the Rams have agreed to a new deal, according to a team source. The contract is for four years and $34 million, with incentives that could push it to $36 million, according to the source. Breer also reports that $16 million is guaranteed at signing, with another $4 million guaranteed if he is on the roster at the start of the 2014 league year.
Two club sources told Breer that coach Jeff Fisher’s pitch on the direction of the Rams franchise was instrumental in landing Long. According to ESPN’s Ed Werder, Long turned down a higher offer from a team other than the Miami Dolphins to join the Rams.
The news was somewhat surprising given reports this weekend that Long and the Dolphins were heading toward a deal that would keep Long with the team that selected him first overall in the 2008 NFL Draft. Long joins tight end Jared Cook as the second player in the past week to choose the Rams over the Dolphins.
“It was a tough decision,” Long told the Post-Dispatch. “I came in for a visit and coach Fisher and Kevin Demoff and Les Snead were amazing. I just fell in love with their vision and the entire organization. And all the great things they had to say about Mr. (Stan) Kroenke and the way they go about football.”
Long said the Rams ”really made me feel welcome, my wife and I. It was such a great family atmosphere. It was something I wanted to be a part of.”
Long becomes Sam Bradford’s new blindside protector, a move that no doubt has Bradford doing cartwheels in his foyer. To make room for the four-time Pro Bowl lineman, Rodger Saffold is likely to move to the right side — though his agent told the Post-Dispatch recently that Saffold doesn’t want to move to right tackle.
Long sustained a season ending triceps injury last season. In an interview with NFL Network on Sunday, Fisher said Long checked out medically and the team had no short- or long-term medical concerns.
Chicago Cubs legend Ernie “Mr. Cub” Banks joined other celebrated Chicago athletes in support for extending the freedom to marry to gay and lesbian couples in Illinois.
Banks, along with three other sports stars, voiced support in an open letter urging the Illinois House of Representatives to approve the Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act, which has already been approved in the Illinois Senate and has the support of Gov. Pat Quinn.
The athletes wrote that, “treating any group of people as second-class citizens hurts us all, because discrimination is wrong no matter whom the target is.”
“We come from a variety of backgrounds, and we have played different sports for different teams. But one thing that binds us together is our belief in the importance of fairness and respect – in all aspects of life,” the letter stated. ”In Illinois today, gay and lesbian couples who are in lifetime committed relationships do not have the freedom to marry. This violates our sense of fairness and respect. It also goes against the Golden Rule of treating others as you would like to be treated yourself.”
Those signing the letter are:
Ernie Banks – a beloved Chicago icon nicknamed “Mr. Cub,” Banks played as a shortstop and first baseman for the Chicago Cubs from 1953 through 1971. Banks was elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1977 and the Major League Baseball All-Century Team in 1999.
Richard Dent – played defensive end for the Chicago Bears for eleven seasons. He was the MVP of legendary Super Bowl XX and was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2011.
Hunter Hillenmeyer – played linebacker for the Chicago Bears from 2003-2010. Along with All-Pro linebackers Brian Urlacher and Lance Briggs, Hillenmeyer was part of a linebacking corps considered one of the best in the league.
Brendon Ayanbadejo – Having played for the Chicago Bears from 2005-2007, Ayanbadejo now plays linebacker for the Super Bowl XLVII champion Baltimore Ravens. A three-time NFL Pro-Bowler, Ayanbadejo was born in Chicago and lived in the Lathrop Homes as a child.
The athletes, in the letter, continued, “We come from a variety of backgrounds, and we have played different sports for different teams. But one thing that binds us together is our belief in the importance of fairness and respect – in all aspects of life,” the letter stated. ”In Illinois today, gay and lesbian couples who are in lifetime committed relationships do not have the freedom to marry. This violates our sense of fairness and respect. It also goes against the Golden Rule of treating others as you would like to be treated yourself.”
Not only is Johnny Hekker of the St. Louis Rams one of the NFL’s up-and-coming young punters, and arguably the most dangerous throwing punter in football, but he’s now sweeping the world of social media with his unique “Sketch Time” gig.
The idea is very simple: Hekker announces over Twitter that he will be taking sketch requests from other users, and then he takes the ideas to create wacky and clever sketches using only his colored pens and pad.
A Canadian man who beat out four million competitors to win a fantasy football league’s grand prize of tickets to last night’s Super Bowl was stopped at the border and denied entry because U.S. customs officials discovered he had a minor pot possession conviction on his record from 1981.
Myles Wilkinson was 19 years old when he was caught carrying two grams of marijuana and paid a $50 fine. Nearly 32 years later, he’s still paying for that infraction:
A Vancouver Island man who won an all-expenses-paid trip to the Super Bowl in New Orleans has been refused entry into the U.S. because of a marijuana possession conviction dating back to 1981.
Victoria resident Myles Wilkinson won the trip in a fantasy football league contest, competing against nearly four million other players for the chance to attend the National Football League championship, featuring the Baltimore Ravens and the San Francisco 49ers.
But when he got to Pearson International Airport in Toronto on Thursday, U.S. customs agents learned of a marijuana possession conviction in Vancouver in 1981 and told him he was not allowed to enter the country.
Though Wilkinson’s border ordeal is noteworthy, it’s one that affects a significant number of foreigners who want to visit the United States.
Following the episode, the fantasy football contest’s organizers offered Wilkinson a consolation prize: entrance to a private Super Bowl watch party in Vancouver.
The puritans are up in arms against Beyoncé’s Super Bowl performance, which included a reunion with her 1990s R&B group, Destiny’s Child. It wasn’t “family friendly”. They say their kids can’t watch the Super Bowl anymore if women are going to dress like that and lick their fingers.
I hope these same people don’t take their kids to that bastion of family values, Hooters.
Here’s Beyoncé’s smoking hot performance, in which we are told she sang live (talent is sexy, no?):
It astounds me that anyone living in this culture could be offended by Beyoncé’s performance. Is it offensive that women can’t play football and that they are served up as objects of lust who cheer on the men? Yes, that’s offensive. But that is hardly Beyoncé’s fault. Is football a sport that attracts the sort of male energy that objectifies women? Often, yes. Again, NOT Beyoncé’s fault.
Is it offensive that these same puritans are okay with Smiling Barbie cheerleaders’ costumes but offended by the same coverage when done in leather? It’s okay to show off your breasts and bottom in order to cheer the men on, but if you are fierce and awesome in black leather while showing your tummy and bottom as your own act, you are no longer family friendly.
After the performance, the focus of America’s criticism for being too sexy/sexist left an inspiring letter for her fellow female performers, Kelly Rowland, Michelle Williams, Alicia Keys and Jennifer Hudson. Beyoncé wrote that it was “an honor” to perform with the “phenomenal ladies… You are all beautiful, talented and showed so much class!”
This is a nation that calls Hooters a family restaurant, so spare me the puritanical outrage over Beyoncé.
That this is a sexist, misogynistic culture is not up for debate among sane people. I don’t blame mothers who don’t like it, but it’s a bit short-sighted to blame Beyoncé for this fact. Is she making money off of her sexuality? Yes. So are the women anchors at Fox News. So are the girls at Hooters. Models. Sarah Palin when she had it. And so many more. Because of our culture, almost all women in media have to sell their sexuality, even if by withholding it (so rare) and creating a more valuable commodity. Some of those people also have talent to back up their sex appeal. Some of them don’t, which should be offensive but somehow we don’t seem to mind a girl selling herself short or bemoan the women with talent who are ignored by our culture because they aren’t “hot”.
This culture is offensive to women and bad for young girls and it’s not fixed by cheering women in the front lines of combat, because even that, while progress, is still an attempt to catch the approval of the American male centric value system in which power is equated with being like a man.When a woman is seen as an equal because of her more feminine traits (not sexual traits; feminine traits, like cooperation – and I note that Beyoncé demonstrated one such feminine trait by praising her female co-performers) we will have advanced into post-knuckle-dragging days.
Beyoncé is actually a strong, talented woman making the most of her short shelf life as an object of desire and using that sexuality to empower herself. In 2010, Knowles was ranked first on Forbes list of the “100 Most Powerful and Influential Musicians in the World”. She designs clothes and markets perfumes because she’s smart enough to know where this is going to land.
Hey, the First Lady enjoyed Beyonce’s performance, as did most of the country. Michelle Obama tweeted, “Watching the #SuperBowl with family & friends. @Beyonce was phenomenal! I am so proud of her!”
Here’s the family friendly argument: Cheerleaders, who make a lot less money, have no power and often wear less, are a great model for their daughters but Beyoncé isn’t. Here’s a hint, puritans of America — if the men aren’t watching the NFL expecting sex, then why do the cheerleaders dress like strippers, albeit American sparkly strippers? Maybe if Beyoncé had put some Sarah Palin sparkly stars on her leather, she wouldn’t have been so darn scary, eh?
Some people seem to have a real problem with a woman being center stage in her own life. Who would you rather your daughter emulate in her career: Beyoncé or a cheerleader?
NBC pre-empted the first quarter of tonight’s 49ers-Patriots game to show President Obama’s speech at the Newtown memorial for victims of the Sandy Hook shooting. As you might expect, many football fans didn’t take kindly to this. (So, too, some Bob’s Burgers fans.) Here are those idiots, led by someone who claims to be a Division II football player in the state of Alabama. [Update: UNA says he’s no longer a member of the team.]
We’re pretty sure that New York Jets owner Woody Johnson, an avowed backer of the Mitt Romney campaign, will not like what Senator Harry Reid (D-Nevada), the Senate Majority leader, had to say about his franchise while recently speaking on the Senate floor.
As everyone in the world seemingly must these days, Senator Reid then turned his attention to the New York Jets.
“Coach [Rex] Ryan — he’s got a problem. He’s got three quarterbacks. [Mark] Sanchez, he’s got Tim Tebow, and he’s got a guy by the name of [Greg] McElroy. He can’t decide who their quarterback is going to be. That’s the same problem the Republicans are having. Romney’s gone, but he’s still in the background. Who is the quarterback, Mr. President? My friend talks about the trillions of dollars of debt. Mr. President, we just had an election. The people overwhelmingly know why we have this deficit.”
By the way, this isn’t the first time Senator Reid has used a sports angle to further his cause. In June, he was asked if Senator Mitch McConnell was waiting for Romney’s take on President Obama’s immigration order before he spoke about it. Reid’s response?
Immediately after the suicide of Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belcher, who police say murdered his girlfriend at their home before driving to the Chiefs’ practice facility and shooting himself in front of the team’s coach and general manager, thoughts turned to the role concussions and brain injuries may have played in the tragedy.
But during halftime of last night’s Sunday Night Football broadcast, NBC’s Bob Costas brought up another angle: the role guns, and our nation’s lax gun laws, played in the tragedy. After a brief introduction, Costas quoted Kansas City-based columnist Jason Whitlock, who wrote yesterday that he believed both Belcher and his girlfriend, Kasandra Perkins, would be alive today were it not for Belcher’s possession of a gun:
‘Our current gun culture,’ Whitlock wrote, ‘ensures that more and more domestic disputes will end in the ultimate tragedy. And more convenience store confrontations over loud music coming from a car will leave more teenage boys bloodied and dead. Handguns do not enhance our safety. They exacerbate our flaws, tempt us to escalate arguments and bait us into embracing confrontation rather than avoiding it. In the coming days, Jovan Belcher’s actions and their possible connection to football will be analyzed. Who knows? But here,’ wrote Jason Whitlock, ‘is what I believe — if Jovan Belcher didn’t possess a gun, he and Kasandra Perkins would both be alive today.’
Conservatives and gun advocates are, of course, angry at Costas’ insinuation, via Whitlock, that gun control could have prevented the murder of Kasandra Perkins.
Fox & Friends blasted Costas this morning, with co-host Brian Kilmeade relying on the tried-and-true point that follows every outbreak of gun violence this country has. “I just don’t know if it’s appropriate enough on a Sunday night, less than 24 hours after this guy took his own life and killed his girlfriend and the mother of his baby, to make that stance,” Kilmeade said. “I don’t think we needed to hear that last night.”
When, then, is the appropriate time to talk about gun violence? According to gun advocates, it wasn’t after another black teenager was shot in a parking lot because he was listening to loud music. It wasn’t after another mass murder at one of our schools, shopping malls, or movie theaters. It wasn’t in a year when another 11,000 Americans lost their lives to firearms, or in a country where 1,800 women like Kasandra Perkins are killed in gun disputes and another 5,000 are treated for assault-related gunshot wounds every year. It wasn’t during presidential debates. It wasn’t after Trayvon Martin was killed for wearing a hoodie, after Jared Lee Loughner shot a member of Congress in the head, after the Dark Knight Rises theater shooting, or after the latest murderous weekend in one of our nation’s biggest cities. So if those weren’t the right times, and this isn’t either, when? Which high-profile murder, suicide, or mass killing will be the one that gets us to talk?
Perhaps, if Jovan Belcher didn’t own a gun, he would have found another way to kill Kasandra Perkins and himself. Or perhaps he wouldn’t have. Having a gun in the home, after all, increases both the risk of homicide and suicide, and 60 percent of our nation’s homicides are committed with guns. Studies have shown that guns in the home increase chances of homicide two to three times, and gun death rates are seven times higher in states that have high household gun ownership (Missouri is 21st, and considered a high-ownership state), according to the Brady Campaign.