SAN DIEGO, March 22, 2012—Did anyone see this coming? The news dropped like the ball in Times Square on New Year’s Eve early Tuesday: FoxSports.com was first to report that Tim Tebow has been traded from the Denver Broncos to the New York Jets.
What ensued was a roller coaster day for sports fans on Wednesday, trying to follow the barrage of “yes, it’s true,” and “wait, there’s a snag” stories about the reported trade. Add in the Twitter traffic and it was a full-time job. So much for workplace productivity. March Madness is one thing; Timsanity is another.
The trade news turned out to be for real, and was finally confirmed by the New York Jets late Wednesday. Tebow will once again become a backup quarterback, this time to Mark Sanchez, who signed a new three-year, $40.5 million contract extension earlier this month.
The Denver Broncos agreed to the trade with the Jets for a fourth and a sixth round draft pick in exchange for Tebow plus a seventh-round pick to the Jets, according to ESPN. The trade was held up initially because Tebow’s contract had $5 million in “recapture language,” meaning any team who traded for Tebow owed the Broncos this sum as part of the deal.
The Jacksonville Jaguars also turned out to be in the hunt after all. It was widely believed Tebow would be heading south to Florida, where he played high school and college football, and won a Heisman Trophy playing quarterback for the Florida Gators. In the end, reportedly Tebow was given a choice of the Jets or Jacksonville. It seems the bright lights of Broadway were more alluring.
Tebow became available after the Broncos signed Peyton Manning to a five-year deal earlier this week, much to the disappointment of many fans in Denver who embraced Tebow after he led their team following a 1-4 start, ending up with a 7-4 record, the AFC title, and an improbable overtime playoff victory.
But as many performers will tell you, being second-string on the world’s greatest stage in the entertainment capital of the world is in many ways preferable to being the big fish in the Jacksonville pond. Tebow was already a media darling. Becoming a part of the New York media machine is a match made in Heaven.
New York may seems like an odd fit for the devout Christian Tebow, whose religious values and “Tebowing” style of praying on the football field are in some ways better known than his athletic skills. But New Yorkers are a tolerant lot, and have always been accepting of people from diverse backgrounds. They fully embrace anyone who’s a standout among the crowd, no matter the reason.
Forget what you might think about New Yorkers. They really do live the words engraved at the Statue of Liberty: “Give me your tired, your poor, Your Tebowing masses, yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore, Send these, the homeless, tempest tossed, I lift my lamp beside the golden door.” OK, perhaps I changed this famous Emma Lazarus poem just a little bit.
The Jets don’t need Tebow in town to sell tickets. Their games are sellouts every weekend. Athletically, there seems to be consensus that Tebow will fit nicely in new offensive coordinator Tony Sparano’s “Wildcat” style offense.
But much of the success for a team happens off the field. The Jets’ locker room isn’t known for a congenial atmosphere. Relationships among certain players are poor to say the least. Could Tebow lead by example by showing the rest of the team that character and faith on and off the field means just as much, perhaps more, to the fans in many ways as sheer athletic skills?
This kind of move could also lead people in many parts of the United States without an NFL team to embrace the New York Jets as “America’s Team,” much as the nation did the Dallas Cowboys decades ago.
Not everyone thinks the acquisition was a wise move. Former Jets star and perhaps the greatest Jets player ever, Joe Namath, told ESPN New York Radio he thinks it’s all a publicity stunt, and not good for the team.
“I do not agree with this situation,” Namath said. “I’m a Tim Tebow fan. But I’m a bigger Jet fan than I am a Tim Tebow fan.”
One person publicly expressed happiness over the trade. Jeremy Lin of the New York Knicks knows what it’s like to have the attention of the media and the fans in New York. He weighed in on the trade after a great game for the Knicks in a Wednesday night win over the Philadelphia 76ers.
“It’s awesome. I’m just excited for him and to see what he does,” Lin was quoted as saying . “We’ll see what happens next year, but I’m excited obviously that he’s going to be in New York.” Lin offered Tebow this advice in the New York Post: don’t read the newspapers.
Lin said he has not been in touch with Tebow. They have reportedly have had one phone conversation. But they do have a lot in common. They share their Christian faith, and they know what it’s like to become the center of the media universe overnight.
Lin was sleeping on a teammate’s couch when he rose to sudden improbable fame, but now he has an apartment in White Plains, New York, and a swanky condo in the W Hotel. Maybe he’d like to pay it forward and let Tebow sleep on his couch when he gets to New York.
Now that Linsanty has started dying down, Timsanity is apparently already in full swing. Fans are reportedly already sporting green and white Jets jerseys with Tebow’s name and his number 15. How long will it be before a flash mob is Tebowing in Times Square?
Gayle Lynn Falkenthal, APR, is President/Owner of the Falcon Valley Group in San Diego, California. Read more Media Migraine in the Communities at The Washington Times. Follow Gayle on Facebook and on Twitter @PRProSanDiego.
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