Wearing a number that once belonged to someone as synonymous to sports as anybody on TV, Jake Heaps took to the New York Jets practice field sporting the same No. 3 jersey as another legend: Kelly Leak, that sandy haired, cigarette smoking teen-aged bad boy slugger from all those Bad News Bears movies.
Wherever Heaps has gone–be it BYU, Kansas, or Miami–he’s been bad news. His reputation has preceded him. Sure, he wasn’t a complete public nuisance like Leak taking drags off of his cigarette while burying his motorcycle tires in the freshly manicured infield somebody spent hours painstakingly creating but yeah, the prodigal son out of BYU has definitely had his moments.
It also seems that like Leak, Heaps has been starring in a very long movie series, playing the heel superstar athlete who never seems to get things right as he bounces from team to team, trying to find the meaning of life with whatever iteration of a ball team he’s playing for next. Football seems rather secondary but it is the vehicle which propels him forward towards this imaginary goal.
Even so, nobody dared take a feeler on Heaps at the NFL Draft a bizarre college football career in which he had more downs than ups–so naturally he went undrafted. And so finally, after having such lofty expectations unfulfilled at several D-1 schools, Heaps ventured on to the Jets with nothing more in his back pocket than a tryout opportunity.
By comparison, Leak did go from Cali–where he smoked, dated older girls and popped wheelies in his Enduro at age 13–to Houston’s Astrodome where he scoffed at reading Playboys in a hotel room like his teammates because he was all grown up at age 14 now, man.
And by comparison, fans of Heaps probably thought he might stick with the Jets after earning a contract in May, beating out 23 other hopefuls at said tryout. But that only bought the rook more time–not a guarantee by any means.
Leak’s story was similar in one sense. There was something deeper, more real to Leak and we all found that out when he and the Bears went to Japan to hit homers and he won over a sweet, innocent girl, thus showing us all this human side we never saw in previous Bad News Bears movies.
Heaps was also misunderstood in a sense. He’d bounce from team to team, from BYU starring as the program’s savior until it didn’t work out–then on to Kansas as Charlie Weis’ potential saving grace– before leaving that school, too, to go to Miami as an insurance policy in what will probably become stock footage from The U Part 3 before too long.
At all places near and far and in all ways, Heaps took advantage of his ability to throw a football–just like Leak did with a baseball. It’s just that when you throw more interceptions than touchdowns at enough places–or draw more attention to yourself than necessary–somebody will eventually catch on.
The Jets were the latest team to take a feeler on Heaps potential. Yet his time there was also for naught by the weekend as the J-E-T-S let go of the former BYU star, sending him packing yet again as this ongoing saga closed yet another chapter on his rather interesting career.
Apparently, chucking four interceptions in one practice will not help you keep your job–even if you’ve had a storied and interesting football career. Nevertheless, Heaps was cool about the whole thing on his Instagram page.
“Thank you to the @nyjets for giving me an opportunity.. Also thank you to Jets fans for being awesome while I have been here! Know that God has a plan.. Just gotta keep working hard,” Heaps said.
The prodigal son from Seattle with the never say die attitude and unyielding faith, Heaps has yet to complete a pass in the NFL. Will he ever get the opportunity to throw again? Like Leak, you’d be crazy to count out the rookie Heaps–even if this story would lead you to believe it’s just going to be the same ol story in another sequel.