Jockey Helps Welcome Tim Tebow to NYC

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The Twitter trending hashtag #tebowtakesmanhattan is one just one sign that Tim Tebow has arrived in the Big Apple.

The New York Jets held a press conference Monday to “announce” the acquisition of Tim Tebow via a trade with the Denver Broncos, but Tebowmania already has moved far beyond the team’s control. Just ask the thousands of motorists who spotted the quarterback’s sponsor Jockey’s electronic billboard featuring Tebow’s image (see above) outside the Lincoln Tunnel, on the New Jersey side, over the weekend. And there’s already a new “Jetbow” sandwich at a New York deli.

“We Support Tebow & New York. Jockey” the sign reads. It’s supposed to come down by Friday, but Jockey’s broadside in support of its highly visible spokesman is only the beginning of the wars over Tebow.[more]

For it turns out that Tebow actually did have a say in which team Denver selected for a trade after the Broncos signed Peyton Manning last week to replace Tebow as the team’s starting quarterback. And Tebow apparently indicated a preference for the Jets over the Jacksonville Jaguars even though the latter is his hometown NFL team.

Though some of the New York tabloids can’t figure it out (to quote the New York Post’s headline, “God Him!”), there’s actually no mystery as to why Tebow nodded toward the Jets. It may have something to do with the apparent vulnerability of Mark Sanchez as the franchise’s starting quarterback.

But also likely is that, although Tebow apparently hasn’t yet put it this way, he clearly understood another kind of opportunity in New York. He’ll have the chance to display his faith on the world’s biggest media stage and to do so in the face of widely presumed cultural hostilities there potentially opening the door for much greater impact for his message of Christian faith than to do so in relatively safe Jacksonville, which amounts to an extension of the Bible Belt.

And that’s all OK with a surprisingly large number of people as Tebow moves on to the “big tent” of Gotham from the relatively benign environs of Denver, which also abuts a central-Colorado Bible belt.

“On its face, Tebowmania appeals to many fans who appreciate his personally evangelical spiritual mission,” wrote Dan Shanoff, the New York-based creator of TimTeblog.com, in a New York Times op-ed column on Saturday. “But I’m a secularly focused Jewish liberal [and] hardly the stereotypical exurbanite religoius conservative Tebow fan. I and many like me found it easy to believe in Tebow’s essential humanism: work hard and good things will happen.

“As we newly intermingle — the Tebow faithful and the New York skeptics — perhaps it is the Tebow fans who welcome Jets fans to a winning team, not the other way around.”

So Jets management can go back and forth about whether Tebow really can compete for Sanchez’s job, and fellow Jets players can carp about why Tebow has received a hero’s welcome today, with his own press conference and all, even though he’s only a “backup quarterback.”

But Tebow’s sights are also set higher than the dysfunctional Jets and even the NFL. And so let the show begin.

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