Tim Tebow is a sensation. He's a lightning rod. He's unique. He's also controversial, galvanizing and causes endless debate. And there have been numerous players on the New York Jets throughout the decades who fit that profile. Here's a list of the Top 5 sensations, lightning rods, controversial players -- whatever you want to call them. Guys who created much debate, guys you couldn't stop reading about or talking about, guys everyone had an opinion about, guys who created a mania around them. None had the boy-next-door personality of Tebow (actually, none were even close), but they all made a big impression like the Jets' new backup quarterback, and they were all unique.
5. Wahoo McDaniel: The Native American linebacker came to the Jets in 1964 in a nine-player trade with the Denver Broncos. His first game coincided with the football debut of Shea Stadium. After their first four seasons of existence, the Jets' best record was 7-7, so they hadn't had much success up to that point and they were starving for a hero (though Don Maynard was already entering his fifth season with the franchise). McDaniel, who wrestled professionally in the offseason, was a square block of granite, who talked a lot, drank a lot and fought a lot. And the fans took to him instantly. Every time he made a tackle in that season-opener of '64, the fans went wild for this charismatic man with the funny name. By the second half, the PA announcer, instead of stating who made the tackle, began asking the crowd, "Who made the tackle?!" "Wahoo!!" was the response. After the 30-6 victory over his old team, the Broncos, McDaniel was given credit for making 23 tackles. When he stepped on the field for his second game with the Jets the following week, he had a new name over his No. 54 on the back of his jersey: "Wahoo." McDaniel was named the Most Popular Jet after his first season, but unfortunately he only played in Queens for two seasons as he was scooped up by the Miami Dolphins in the 1966 expansion draft. He played nine seasons in the AFL (and did a little punting besides playing linebacker), but received more fame and glory for his wrestling career, which spanned four decades (though his best sport was arguably golf). Chief Wahoo was a sensation and an original.
4. Keyshawn Johnson: Just Give Me the Damn Ball. The title of Johnson's book pretty much says it all about the receiver's four years with the Jets. After being named the Player of the Game after his USC won the Rose Bowl, he not-so-humbly announced, "Ok, I'm ready to go play for the Jets," as Gang Green held the No. 1 pick in the draft. Johnson was the prototype of the classic prima donna receiver, the precursor for Terrell Owens, Chad Ochocinco and Randy Moss. He complained, often and loudly, about "too many guys from Hofstra," Wayne Chrebet, Neil O'Donnell, Rich Kotite (well, could you blame him?) and, of course, not getting the damn ball enough, and he caused a ruckus when his book was published after only one year in the NFL. He thought very highly of himself, but he was good. Damn good.
3. Rex Ryan: When the Jets hired Ryan as their coach, they may have had an inkling of what they were getting, but there was no way of foreseeing the tidal wave of controversy and bluster that would be coming their way. Yes, it was no secret that Buddy Ryan's son was brash and loud, and knew his defense, but did Gang Green know of the endless guarantees, F-bombs, bird-flipping, foot-fetishes, Trip-gate, Holmes-gate and other negative twists and turns that would be rampant with Ryan leading the franchise? There's one thing that Ryan surely did for the Jets: He's gotten them noticed, as they are now one of the most hated teams in the league.
2. Mark Gastineau: In his days with the Jets, Gastineau was one of the most loathed players in the league -- and that contempt came from the direction of some of his own teammates as well. His pass-rushing acumen was at an upper-echelon level (he held the single-season sack record for almost two decades); it was what happened after getting to the quarterback that caused the despisement. His infamous sack dance rubbed just about everybody the wrong way, including a couple of his fellow Sack Exhange teammates, Joe Klecko and Marty Lyons. Along with his flamboyant style on the field, there was a long list of other ingredients that were part of the mix in the "That's just Gastineau being Gastineau" legend: Brigitte Nielsen, steroids, arrests, fights, an unexpected early retirement, crossing a picket line, prison, boxing and, of course, mullets.
1. Joe Namath: Broadway Joe had the fame that Tebow now possesses but replace the sobriety, virginity, devoutness, humbleness and scrambling ability with booze, broads, braggadocio, rebelliousness and bad knees. When Namath came along in the '60s, he caused a stir with his hard-partying ways, long hair, Fu Manchu and brash personality. He was the anti-hero, a polar opposite of the star quarterbacks of the day, like Johnny Unitas, Bart Starr and Daryle Lamonica. He represented the new generation of groovy hippies that the old guard didn't care for. And there was plenty of hype to go with Namath throughout his career that not all of his fellow AFL/NFLers appreciated. But his star power and personality (and finally the Super Bowl victory) legitimized the AFL, which led to the merging of the two leagues. His guarantee and wild ways were controversial, but unlike Tebow his talent was never in question -- until long after his career was over that is. Some look at his stats, and without putting them into context, are not that impressed with his body of work. And he's still a lightning rod to this day, as he looms large over the Jet franchise and shares his opinion on everything that goes on with his old team, whether they like it or not (and they usually don't).