The Wall Street Journal — which, improbably, has become the most consistently amusing newspaper sports section in town — had a lot of fun this morning with their wrap-up of Jets practice yesterday, in which the Jets and Tim Tebow reportedly ran the Wildcat for the first time all spring. (Honestly, you would think the Wildcat formation were some sort nuclear code rather than a widely misused and misunderstood offensive package.)
The Jets allowed reporters to watch the practice, but they were not allowed to say what happened at that practice, which led to the Journal, perfectly logically, running these little gems.
The first time Tim Tebow lined up in the Wildcat formation at Jets practice Monday, he [REDACTED]. .... On multiple occasions while Tebow was playing quarterback Monday, Sanchez [REDACTED] to the [REDACTED] and [REDACTED]. And in one surprising sequence, Sanchez [REDACTED] and [REDACTED] Tebow, who instead of lining up at [REDACTED] had [REDACTED].
"I think it can be a [REDACTED]," Sanchez said. "If we run it the [REDACTED] way, like Coach Sparano will do, we can be [REDACTED] with it."
It's an amusing read, though one can't help but wonder if the average Jets fan is gonna pick up his paper this morning, wonder What the hell is this? and then go find a game story that's not sorta jerking him around to make an overarching philosophical point.
But we spent a long weekend at Jets practice earlier this summer, and we can tell you that it's actually worse than just "you can't report on this, we're Wildcatting." Not being allowed to report on formations and lineup changes is a fairly regular part of spring practice, and in fact the Jets are among the more liberal teams about media access. Many college teams, for example, close every practice, out of the usual coaching paranoia and self-aggrandizing sense that what they're doing is the most important thing in the world.
At Jets practice, you're regularly told, Wildcat or not, that you can't write about certain plays the Jets are running, and you definitely can't film it. This wasn't an issue for us, because we weren't going to write about that stuff anyway, in large part because we never quite understood football plays. This would sometimes lead to Stockholmian instances where one cameraperson would be clandestinely filming a series of plays, and another cameraperson would tell the Jets about it to make them stop.
It's a bit embarrassing for those of us in the fourth estate, but hey, you want your practice updates on Twitter, you want your injury news for your fantasy team — this is the sort of thing that happens. They gotta be there, and they're only there because the Jets allow them to be. That's the NFL for you: paranoid, consumed with power, and convinced that everyone in the world cares what sort of screen pass they're running. This is the NFL. What a bunch of [REDACTED.]