New York's in a Tebow state of mind

Jets quarterback Tim Tebow speaks to the media at the team's training center in Florham Park, N.J.,...

Jets quarterback Tim Tebow speaks to the media at the team's training center in Florham Park, N.J., March 26, 2012. (MIKE SEGAR/Reuters)

BILL LANKHOF, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 7:47 PM ET

It is the monster that ate New York.

There was King Kong. Godzilla got a crack. The Joker (and no, we’re not thinking Joe Namath, but you might). And, now, Tebowmania.

It has inflicted itself on every talk show.

It’s chronic.

It dominates the back pages of the city’s newspapers. In office towers, it is uttered between slurps from the water cooler and, on the street corners the thought prevails like a thousand whirling dust devils.

When Jets’ owner Woody Johnson traded for Tim Tebow he got the biggest cult figure in NFL history. Tebow already has a commercial billboard at the Lincoln Tunnel and a sandwich in his name at the Carnegie Deli — a “Jetbow.”

When he attended the Broadway show “Wicked” at the weekend, cameras clicked. Johnson and head coach Rex Ryan say this was a football decision, and perhaps it is. But it’s also a marketing decision for Johnson, who as a gadzillionaire understands dollar signs as much as he understands X’s and O’s.

Ryan says Mark Sanchez has nothing to worry about. Right. And that’s no ape; just Faye Wray getting a hand up to the observation deck.

It has been said that Tim Tebow doesn’t wear a wrist watch; Tebow decides what time it is. Monday, 200 credentialed media showed up for Tebow’s introductory press conference. There were 13 TV trucks. Tebow spoke behind a podium, facing at least 35 TV cameras in the largest news conference in team history.

Tebow may not have created this phenomenon but he has done little to stop it, either. Meantime, the Jets just keep feeding this monster, answering criticism about holding a press conference for a backup quarterback by explaining it was due to media demands. In other words, not their idea.

Or Tebow’s.

“Blame the guys upstairs,” said Tebow. “They wanted me to do it.”

This is about football as much as Penny is on the cast of Big Bang Theory because of her lovely brains.

Johnson decided long ago that if he can’t own a Super Bowl, he can at least own the New York media. He wants the Jets to be the No. 1 team in town, even if it means messing up Sanchez, who three years ago was good enough to be the No. 5 over-all draft pick.

He’s won four playoff games. He beat Tom Brady. He beat Peyton Manning.

But, he can’t beat Tebowmania. The Jets, sensitive to the fact that Tebow is not supposed to be pushing Sanchez to the sidelines, tried to keep Monday’s event understated. So, they resisted the ticker tape.

He didn’t pose for pictures.

There was no jersey presentation. No club officials were there, which is probably just as well because it’s difficult to speak with your foot in your mouth.

Tebow tried to diffuse a quarterback controversy. ”Me and Mark have a great relationship,” Tebow said. “We have been friends and text back and forth and have talked already. We are going to have a great working relationship and I think we will have a lot of fun together.”

Yeah. And, that’s why his new teammates are singing the hallelujah chorus in praise of Sanchez — and anonymously of course — suggesting Tebow is about as welcome as a zit on date night.

As the New York Daily News streamed the press conference on its website, one fan joked: “(unconfirmed) Report: Mark Sanchez is at the press conference in Disguise, and has his shoe off, preparing to throw it at Tebow.”

None of it seemed to faze the man of the minute; skirting in, around and through questions like he disassembled the Jets’ secondary last season. He’s Teflon Tim. Those Jets and media who keep ragging on him? He just wants “to earn their respect.”

Nobody even asked if, as the backup, he will be using his left, or right hand, to hold the clipboard? Now that’s respect!

But then, he’s Tebow. So, he’s probably ambidextrous.

He was everything you would expect: polite, earnest, accommodating, cordial.

It was like watching an amalgam of Wally & the Beav. He said it was “cool” to talk about his faith. But not this day, thank-you. This, he said, was about football.

He takes “no offence” that the media have him as a gimmick. A ticket magnet.

If he holds a grudge with Broncos’ vice-president John Elway, he is turning the other cheek. “They got one of the best quarterbacks ever to play the game in Peyton Manning.” he said.

Whether Tebow becomes more than Johnson’s publicity toy remains questionable.

Few would suggest he has more talent than Sanchez. But Tebow has never been about talent. “I seem to play better when there is something on the line,” he said. So, at Florida, he was Cam Newton before there was a Newton. Wherever he goes there is magic. So, in Denver he made Kyle Orton disappear. He pulled a season out of the hat for Elway.

Tebow’s philosophy: “Hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard.” Sanchez might want to start reading from the same text. And, learning. Maybe that, as much as being a cheap publicity tool (and we mean that in the nicest way possible), and change-of-pace back-up, is what his legacy will be in New York.

Sanchez’ chivvy. He believes he can be more. And, history suggests there is one way to get Tebow to do something — and, that’s to suggest he can’t do it.

ESPN stats show that in Tebow’s first eight NFL starts he did better than (insert drum roll please ...) John Elway. There are five wins against three, more passing yardage (1,281 vs. 1,041), touchdown passes (10-3) and interceptions (four to Elway’s 10).

So, there. He’s just a dozen more years like that from the Hall of Fame. And, when he gets there, he’ll even be all practised up for the press conference.

TEBOW CHOSE NEW YORK OVER JACKSONVILLE

In the end, Tim Tebow decided he couldn’t go home again.

Tebow admitted at Monday’s press conference that he did have input into whether he ended up with the Jets or in Jacksonville.

“I felt more comfortable with the coaches in New York,” Tebow said. He played under Tony Sparano, the Jets’ offensive co-ordinator at the Senior Bowl, and the Jets coaching staff wanted him.

In Jacksonville, owner Shahid Khan wanted him. Khan’s football people didn’t.

“He didn’t want to come, obviously,” Khan said Monday. “Any one of the 53 players we have, have to be committed to Jacksonville.”

It’s difficult to blame Tebow for picking N.Y. when he knew the Jacksonville coaching staff wasn’t eager to have him.

Besides, if it doesn’t work out in New York, Tebow can always go to Jacksonville which will always be an option.

bill.lankhof@sunmedia.ca


Videos

Photos