So the Oakland Raiders acquired Matt Flynn from the Seattle Seahawks to be their new starting quarterback. Thus the Carson Palmer era ends in Oakland after a mere 25 games and his trade to the Arizona Cardinals.
And just to refresh everyone, when the Raiders traded for Palmer he was retired. They gave up a first round draft pick and a conditional 2nd round pick that could have been another first round pick had Oakland made the playoffs. And just for good measure they renegotiated Palmer’s contract and paid him 12.5 million for 2012 season
What does this have to do with Tim Tebow? Well, all of this Palmer activity was going on in the middle of the Tebow S—t storm. When the 25th pick of the first round was being treated with more reverence then the arc of the covenant in the movie Raiders of The Lost Arc.
Look, I’m on record as saying Tebow was a reach as the 25th pick of the first round of his draft. But the hysteria and hate thrown his way as a result of that pick, and the criticism leveled at the Denver Broncos for selecting him, was way over the top. I have never heard the degree of scrutiny and value placed on a 25th pick before or since.
But then came the Raiders, giving up one and potentially two number one picks for Palmer, a retired quarterback, who never quite played the same post his playoff injury against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
I thought this was a horrible move for the Raiders. At best they looked to be a first round playoff loser. Ultimately they did not make the playoffs. And now that the Raiders are parting ways with Palmer, as Darth Vader said to Luke Skywalker in Return of The Jedi, their failure is complete.
However, the Raiders were never ripped for making the Palmer move in the first place anywhere close to what Denver was. Now that the move is a bust they’re still not getting ripped. Oh by the way, the first round pick the Raiders traded for Palmer turned out to be # 17!
ESPN talking head Skip Bayless received a lot of criticism for his dramatic defense of Tebow. It was seen as exploitive and for ratings and attention. I disagree with Skip frequently and certainly didn’t agree with everything he had to say about Tebow, but you can make a case that his defense was triggered OR perpetuated by the disproportionate amount of hate and criticism leveled at Tebow and Denver.
You can argue it is a chicken or the egg debate. Did Tebow supporters ignite the haters or vice versa. Maybe in retrospect it was a little of both, with neither side willing to let it go.
Interestingly, with the success of RG III, Russell Wilson and Colin Kaepernick, perhaps former Broncos coach Josh McDaniels had the right idea with Tebow, but didn’t survive long enough as coach to put it to the test. What we have seen of Tebow suggests he does not have the skill set of those other players to pull it off.
However, with a draft history littered with over reaches and busts, what the Palmer/ Tebow comparison suggests to me is that Tebow’s religion and race played a role in the Tebow mania, hysteria, controversy or whatever you want to call it.
It would be unfair of me to pin it all on that so I won’t. First, some opinions were grounded in sports analysis. Others overstated it for ratings. Further, draft analysts like to be right. I’ll paraphrase former NFL quarterback and Tebow supporter Doug Flutie, he said as much when he stated on ESPN’s First Take: “If you make a safe mistake or pick who they think is right, you’re okay”. In other words, make an unsafe mistake by going against their almighty draft board picks, and to borrow a word from Tebow’s religion, they crucify you.
Calm down kids. Remember it’s just a game.