What were you doing last Christmas? Has your life changed much in a year? Have your fortunes turned as much as those of Tim Tebow?
As remarkable as it seems, it is still less than a year since he was the toast of Denver when he knocked Pittsburgh out of the playoffs with one of the 10 best moments of the 2011 NFL season.
The 80-yard touchdown pass he threw to Demaryius Thomas on the first play of overtime to send the Steelers home and the Broncos on to a disappointing, if predictable, exit at the hands of New England the following week had Denver fans and neutrals alike out of their seats and cheering wildly.
Fast forward 49 weeks with his new team the New York Jets and the same Tebow is not only in a different world but he has hit rock bottom following reports that not only has he been demoted on the depth chart but that he all but refused to be part of the Jets wildcat package. He considered the demotion such an insult that if he wasn’t going to be utilised properly, he didn’t want to be included at all.
And just like that, it would appear, his career in New York is over. Some people would say his career in the Big Apple never actually got started and the stats would certainly confirm that. One season has seen him complete just six passes for 39 yards and no touchdowns. His replacement in the wildcat set-up last week, receiver Jeremy Kerley, completed a 42-yard pass in the loss to San Diego. That one pass was for more yards passing that Tebow’s entire Jets career.
Clearly, Tebow has not got anything like he expected when he was lured to the Jets in March but making it known to the coaching staff that he didn’t want to be part of the act was a bit over the top and probably signals the end of his time in the north east.
But if one good thing is likely to come from the fallout, it will be that finally, after three years of failing to find his true calling, Tebow will probably end up where he should have been all along.
When he played in college at the University of Florida, he was treated like a god. As a young man just leaving his teens, he was the biggest thing in sport in northern Florida. Fans came from miles around just to see him play. And when his college career was winding down, the same fans dreamed that he would find his way to Jacksonville when he turned pro in 2010.
Unfortunately for Jaguars fans, the team at that time had some huge requirements on defense and went that way in the draft while Denver spent the second of their two first-round picks on taking Tebow to the Mile High City.
Now at last he could be heading home if reports from close to the Jaguars are to be believed and if ever a player and a team needed each other, it has to be Tebow and the Jaguars.
The team is crying out for a break of some sort, any sort while Tebow needs to feel the love of a place that has worshipped him once before.
He may not fix the Jaguars and they may not rescue his shattered career but while Tebow is far from my favourite player, I do believe this – he has something to offer and he needs to be playing. If he goes to the Jags, it will be exciting at least. A guy like Tebow should not be sitting on a bench. Whether or not he is an NFL quarterback remains to be seen but he is an entertainer and entertainers need to be in the spotlight for us to enjoy and appreciate them. I look forward to witnessing that with Tebow in Jacksonville. If nothing else he will sell tickets. Northern Floridians have known that for years. After all, they came from miles around to see him once in a previous life. I reckon they will do it in the next one.
Calvin Johnson is the 92nd best NFL receiver of all time. It doesn’t sound like much of a proud boast but the next guy he will pass on the list – probably this weekend – will be Dallas legend Drew Pearson.
This time next year, he will probably be in the top 50. Within three years he will be in the top 30. Another year after that at his current rate will probably push him into the top 20 and the top 10 will follow a year or so after that.
And then he can start to concentrate on the big guns – Cris Carter, Tony Gonzalez, Tim Brown, Randy Moss, Terrell Owens until he works his way to the top and attempts to surpass Jerry Rice.
Johnson went past one of Rice’s many records this week when he beat his single-season yardage mark of 1,848.
It is one of those records you think cannot be topped but it also gives us a chance to recall once more, lest we should ever forget, just how good some of Rice’s numbers were.
And perhaps no number better illustrates what Johnson is up against than the difference between being second on the receiver list and being at the top.
Owens is at No.2 with 15,934 yards but even then he lags almost 7,000 yards behind Rice and his 22,895 yards. And to put that in even sharper focus, Rice’s total is roughly the equivalent of 12 of Johnson’s record-breaking seasons.
If he stays healthy, Johnson will be one of the great receivers and will probably get to the second spot but Rice’s records are the sort that are spoken of in hushed tones and Johnson is going to have to repeat 2012 a few more times to get himself to a position of being called The Greatest.
With this guy however, you suspect it just could be possible.
Certain teams have it and they have shamelessly exploited it for years. Buffalo have done it. Cleveland, Chicago and Pittsburgh have been experts at it. Denver frustrated many a team with it. And Green Bay have been, perhaps, its finest exponents.
It? Snow, ice, freezing cold weather.
And yet, if you were watching the Green Bay clash with Detroit a couple of weeks ago, you might have been tempted to think the Packers have finally gone soft when it comes to terrorising opponents with the elements.
On a night when the snow started falling long before kickoff, those snow lovers among us were dreaming of a white field, with ground staff desperately trying to clear the lines during time outs while all the time great big flakes kept them in work all night long.
A sneak peak from NBC went underground at Lambeau Field to reveal strenuous, high-tech efforts being made to keep the field in a much more friendly state than we might sometimes associate with Green Bay’s home field. The field’s heating system was, I presume, what those in the know would consider state of the art. It certainly looked it.
But a short history lesson before you go thinking the Packers have suddenly decided to try to level the playing field come playoff time in Wisconsin,
Undersoil heating is nothing new in Green Bay. In fact, there was undersoil heating there when the Packers and Cowboys played the Ice Bowl on the last day of 1967. And the reason the Ice Bowl became so notorious is because the system, installed at the urging of coach Vince Lombardi, broke.
The Ice Bowl was cold enough right from the start – in fact, long before the start it was the sort of day that would make grown men weep – and the surface was always going to be a problem. The heating breaking down simply ensured that it turned from a cold day to a nightmare surface on which to play football. The field became such a sheet of glass that players could barely stay upright.
But that is what the weather up there does to football in the winter. It can be so brutal that even with the aid of technology, football can still be incredibly difficult to play.
And although the snow was not heavy enough to lie against Detroit recently, it still ended up having a key bearing on the game when it made the ball slippy enough for Matthew Stafford to fumble with nobody near him and allow Green Bay to return it for a touchdown and turn the game.
Scientists and engineers can keep coming up with new ways to attack the elements but I have a feeling that Mother Nature will find a way to stay ahead of the curve and ensure that winter football in Chicago, Green Bay and Denver will always mean battling the weather as well as the Bears, Packers and Broncos.