Fooch's Note: I've updated the title on this post from "First openly gay athlete", because that is not correct.
It's finally happened. A player who is currently active in one of the four major sports has come out and told everyone he's gay. Jason Collins is not the most widely known player in the NBA. He doesn't score a lot of points, get a lot of rebounds, or even play a lot of minutes. He's hung around for 10 years in the league basically because he's 7 feet tall and there's always room on at least one team's 15-man roster for a player that tall. In fact, probably about the only thing he's even remotely known for is being a good defender against Dwight Howard. Now he's becoming a household name as the first active player to announce he's gay.
This is big news. He'll be seen as an idol by people in the gay and lesbian movement everywhere. He'll also be seen as an enemy by others. But the feeling I get from most people when I bring it up ranges from, "Good for him, did you see that Warriors/Nuggets game?" to "It's about time someone came out, did you see that Warriors/Nuggets game?" In other words, the reaction by most is simply, why should I care that he's gay?
That more than anything tells me how far we've come on this subject. If this had happened 13 years ago during the rhetoric laced firestorm known as the Knight Amendment (later Prop 8) all holy hell would have broken loose. Now we get a reaction about as big as if I told people I painted my house green. As far as I'm concerned that's a great thing because it shouldn't be an issue.
The problem for some people is they only focus on the sex. But how much of any relationship is spent having sex? For sure it's an important part, but it's only one small part of any good relationship. How many people have married simply because the other person was good in bed? How many people have gotten divorced, especially with someone they really got along with, just because sex wasn't that great? People have relationships and get married because they want to share their life with someone. They want someone there they can talk to and unburden themselves or have someone to lean on when times are tough. As long as it's with a consenting adult, why should any of us care who others spend their free time with?
The end of Tebowmania?
Tim Tebow has been on a crazy ride so far in his brief three year NFL career. Josh McDaniels and the Broncos traded up into the first round to get Tebow. He played in three games near the end of his rookie season and even showed flashes of potential, throwing for 308 yards in a win against the Texans in Week 16. Then McDaniels was fired and John Fox was brought in. After a 1-4 start to the season, Fox pulled Kyle Orton and let Tebow see what he could do. The Broncos completely overhauled their offensive system to match Tebow's more unique skill set and all he did was resurrect the Broncos season leading them to an AFC West title and a first round OT win against the Steelers in the playoffs. People were going crazy and Tebow mania was sweeping the nation, but that's when the rug got pulled out from under him.
John Elway never wanted Tebow as his QB. The look on his face when Tebow was out there ranged from disbelief to sheer pain. He desperately wanted to get rid of Tebow but how could he do it without a full scale riot in Denver? Elway's savior came in the form of Peyton Manning. Hey, how could Elway pass up an opportunity to get Manning? He wasn't really getting rid of Tebow, he was just giving him an opportunity to play elsewhere.
That's when the twenty car pileup known as the NY Jets stepped in. It seemed like a perfect fit. Rex Ryan needed more playmakers on offense and offensive coordinator Tony Sparano was the architect of the Wild Cat offense. It was a match made in heaven but only if heaven is run by The Three Stooges. When he was in Denver the coaches there designed plays that matched Tebow's strengths as an athlete. In New York, they made plays and simply hoped they might work without having any idea what they were doing whatsoever. When Mark Sanchez go hurt it wasn't Tebow they turned to but Greg McElroy, a player who may not even making the Jets roster this season.
Now that Tebow's been unceremoniously dumped what does the future have in store for him? One of the things working against Tebow is his own fame. Any team with a struggling QB will be leery of bringing him in since they know the uproar they'll hear from fans if their incumbent QB struggles at all. It's probably why the Jaguars want nothing to do with him. Then there's the problem that he doesn't necessarily make the best backup, even behind a quality starter, since any offense that uses him will have to change to match his own skill set. Most teams would prefer to have a backup that could be plugged in seamlessly without having to make any adjustments.
So what team out there might want him? The team that makes the most sense to me is the New England Patriots. Josh McDaniels, the guy who drafted Tebow in the first place, is the Patriots offensive coordinator, while Bill Belichick is not afraid of trying new things and getting creative on offense. Plus, there's the added bonus that if it works, and the Patriots are able to creatively plug Tebow into their offense, they'll be able to thumb their noses at the Jets and say, "See guys, this is how real coaching is done."