Tebow Takes New York

When I first began blogging, I set out to not write about sports. The sports-blogosphere is cluttered with amateur analysts. Some of it is quite well written and some of it is not, but it’s all kind of ridiculous. I didn’t think I could add anything to the public narrative about sports, better to just shut up and write about Donald Trump or something.

It was Tim Tebow and his miraculous run of unconventional wins that forced me to begin writing about sports. Last fall, Tim Tebow captivated the nation with his unorthodox quarterbacking style and orthodox religious beliefs. It seemed all he knew how to do was win football games and love Jesus. Tebow was a cultural touchstone. With each passing win he converted non-believers, and he did so with a humility that made him endearing. He led his Broncos into an improbable playoff birth, and upset the Steelers in what was his finest game of the season.

But the one person who seemed unswayed by Tebow’s heroics was the one man who really mattered. The Bronco’s president, and former legendary Quarterback, John Elway seemed to view Tebow with incredulity and only tepidly supported him. Despite his proclamations that Tebow was ‘his guy’ he never seemed to really believe it. When Peyton Manning was released by the Colts, Elway swooped in and signed the star Quarterback. Now Elway was in a tough position. The Denver faithful had led a coup of sorts to get Tebow to start in the first place, and it seemed improbable that they would accept Tebow as a back up again. Any mistake Manning made would bring howls from the crowd to bring back Tebow. So Elway decided to shop him.

At first it seemed only a few teams had just a passing interest in him. The Jacksonville Jaguars made the most sense and were the odds on favorites to land Tebow’s services. Jacksonville struggles to attract fans and the hometown Tebow was sure to drive attendance up. Then all of a sudden the New York Jets swooped in and landed Tebow for a couple of draft picks.

I have been fairly clear in my admiration for Tim Tebow, but now that he’s on the Jets, my team, I’ve been forced to reconsider. I admired Tebow from afar, but do I really want any part of the circus that is the Tim Tebow experience? The Jets’ blogs seem to be universally against this deal, and I’ve got to admit it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.

The Jets have just extended Mark Sanchez’s contract, and wouldn’t Tim Tebow undermine that? After any mistake Sanchez makes, and he certainly seems to make a lot, won’t the fans demand that Tebow plays? Do the Jets really want to risk their future for a quarterback who struggles to play the position the proper way? Is this merely a ploy to sell tickets and generate publicity?

Well, let me take the contrarian stance, I like this move. The Jets new offensive coordinator, Tony Sparano, pioneered the Wildcat and Tebow should be able to add interesting, and potentially effective, wrinkles to that formation. In my optimistic scenario, Tebow will be an unconventional running back who happens to have a good arm. He will prove effective in short yardage situations, and will provide a good change of pace when Sanchez struggles.

As far as Sanchez’s fragile confidence, if he can’t take the pressure of being backed up by a popular quarterback, then can I really pencil him in as the QB of the future? I think Jets fans will bring a healthy skepticism about Tebow’s game and thus won’t call for Sanchez’s head at the drop of a dime. In fact, in comparison to Tebow’s erratic play, Jet’s fans might start to gain an appreciation of Sanchez. I have no evidence to back this up, but I suspect that Jets fans are more secular than their Denver counterparts and less susceptible to blind faith in Tebow.

The biggest story in all of this is Tim Tebow in the land of secular humanists. Colorado is home to Focus on the Family, and New York is home to Jews, gays, liberals, and Planned Parenthood. Tebow is now positioned as the crusading Christian here to bring religion to the masses. New York is also the media capital of the world. If Tebow has any kind of success with the Jets, it will make Twitter, ESPN, and talk radio explode.

From a football perspective, I think this move may work out well for the Jets. If Tebow plays the Brad Smith role, he could provide the Jets with a bit of unpredictability and excitement. He’ll be effective in their refound commitment to “ground and pound.” If the Jets, however, think that he may be the QB of the future than I want no part of it. In all of the hype over Tim Tebow, the fact that he does have real skills has been diminished. If the Jets had acquired some random running first QB with the 4th round selection they traded for him, I doubt it would’ve been nearly as controversial.

As it stands, Tim Tebow is a New York Jet and I almost can’t believe it. Tebow had been a sideshow for my football fandom, but now he becomes an integral part of it. The choirboy steps into a locker room led by the foul mouthed Rex Ryan. No matter what I think about Tebow, as a Jet fan he’ll no get my wholehearted support. I want the Jets to win. If Tebow can help the Jets win, great, if not, so be it.

One thing I’ll say is that I like that the Jets seem unafraid to make daring moves. They went out and acquired Brett Favre when he became available, and they just did the same thing with Tebow. It might work out or it might not, but I can almost guarantee that Tebow won’t text dick pics to anyone. And if he does, then it will probably break the internet, perhaps irrevocably.

Jonah Redel-Traub is a blogger from New York City. Recently graduated from the University of Wisconsin, Mr. Redel-Traub started The Redel Traub Report, which features his hard hitting, insightful, tre ...read more

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