The New York Jets showed Thomas Jones how much they appreciated his efforts with a full-page ad in the Kansas City Star. But according to Ian O’Connor of the Bergen Record, the Jets would have been better off by showing Jones the money.
Here’s the best way to judge this Jones-for-Tomlinson trade, even if Jones was fired before Tomlinson decided to bet the twilight of his Hall of Fame career on the Jets:
Who would you rather have on your team, right now, after the 2009 season left the Jets’ 2010 mission statement a Super Bowl-or-bust proposition?
Nine out of 10 doctors (and general managers) agree Jones is the fresher, superior player, and the one more likely to help the Jets scale Mount Peyton next time around.
Listen, Tomlinson is an all-time great. As Bill Parcells said of the original LT, the one who did his dominating on the more hostile side of the ball, he’s heading to Canton on roller skates.
Three years ago, Tomlinson was the league’s best player, good for 1,815 yards and 28 touchdowns on the ground, 508 yards and three touchdowns through the air. He was fast enough and elusive enough to earn mentions with the idols of his youth: Jim Brown, Walter Payton and Emmitt Smith.
But last time the Jets saw Tomlinson in full pads, he was being booed by his own fans. Out in sunny San Diego, where the fast-breaking Chargers were supposed to run layup lines through the Jets on the way to the Super Bowl, the crowd exploded when Philip Rivers handed off to LT rather than pass his team out of increasingly dire straits.
This was the soundtrack to a legend gone south. Tomlinson gained all of 24 yards on 12 carries in that one-and-done defeat, and looked every bit the washed-up star San Diego suggested he was when it cut him last month.
I don’t know that I’ve come across anyone that feels the Jets are a better team now than two weeks ago. If it’s not Jones’ presence in the locker room then it’s his willingness/ability to play when he is hurt the way he did at the end of last season.
There is no debating the amazing talent that Tomlinson has had throughout his career or the stats that talent produced for the Chargers. But at the same time you have to acknowledge that he was not always willing to give it a go through injuries the way many of his teammates were.
The game that always sticks out in my mind is the 2007 AFC Championship. In that game Philip Rivers had a torn ligament in his knee, Antonio Gates a dislocated toe and Tomlinson a bruised knee. Of the three, LT was the only one not to play the majority of the game, instead he stood on the sidelines with a huge jacket on. Obviously every injury is different and Rivers didn’t have to cut on his knee the way Tomlinson did but that doesn’t change the perception.
No one knows how much Jones or Tomlinson will have left in the tank next season, but I do know if I had my choice between the two I would rather have Jones.