Earlier this week I wrote that Tebow-Mania was over. Boy, was I ever wrong.
Instead of being dealt to a second-tier NFL city in the wake of Peyton Manning’s signing with the Denver Broncos, Tim Tebow now finds himself smack in the middle of the nation’s largest media market. After a brief dispute over a clause in Tebow’s contract nearly scuppered the deal, the Florida grad is now playing for the New York Jets after a trade that was completed on Wednesday.
Even better, he’s become the presumptive second-string quarterback behind Mark Sanchez, an individual who reportedly possesses such a fragile ego that the team’s acquisition of Tebow could very well spell the end of his football career.
Unquestionably, this deal is great for Tebow. On the field, he’ll be backing up a quarterback known for inconsistent play. Consider this: If Tebow had been New York’s second-string quarterback last season, there would have been more than a few instances where Jets head coach Rex Ryan would have been tempted to put him in the game. Even better for Tebow, the Jets have installed former Dolphins head coach Tony Sparano as their offensive coordinator. While in Miami, Sparano proved to be a devotee of the “wildcat” offense, an offensive set that plays to Tebow’s strengths.
So even if Tebow starts the season as the team’s second-string quarterback, it’s a near certainty that he’ll be on the field in critical situations. And in many cases, it will be Tebow behind center, with Sanchez either split out wide or standing on the sidelines waiting for a chance to get back in the game.
Finally, let’s take a look at the business aspects of the deal. If I were one of Tebow’s sponsors, like say, Jockey, I’d be making plans to erect a giant billboard in Times Square. In short, Tebow’s value as an endorser is now stratospheric. And when it comes to the news media, the stories practically write themselves. Here we have a good upstanding Christian gentleman trying to make it in New York City, a place where his public displays of faith are considered anathema by many.
Of course, if your name is Mark Sanchez, the story looks a whole lot different. In your first three seasons with the Jets, you’ve helped lead them to the doorstep of the Super Bowl twice. Despite this, the team has now acquired a player who comes to town with your job clearly in his sights. What’s worse, because Tebow is such a media superstar, Sanchez will undoubtedly find himself eclipsed in his own town.
Mark my words: The New York Jets will start the season with Sanchez as their starting quarterback. And as certain as I am about that, I’m just as certain that he will falter, and that Tebow will have more than an ample opportunity to make the job his own.
The quarterback controversy starts today. Where it’ll end, nobody knows.
Eric McErlain blogs at Off Wing Opinion, a Forbes “Best of the Web” winner. In 2006 he wrote a “bloggers bill of rights” to help integrate bloggers into the Washington Capitals’ press box. Eric has also written for Deadspin, NBC Sports and the Sporting News, and covers sports television for The TV News. Follow Eric on Twitter.