A saint in the city
Imagine for a minute a Rex Ryan locker room after a Jets loss. Voices are raised, and F-bombs are flying around. Even by NFL standards, the atmosphere is raunchy.
Ryan can't even mention getting a bite to eat without famously calling it "a g--damn snack."
Why, there you are, Tim Tebow.
It's the Bible Belt meets "Jersey Shore." Crocodile Dundee's first trip to Broadway, only the Australian has a Southern twang and cowboy boots and uses the word "abstinence" with a straight face.
On his first conference call as a Jet, Tebow laughed when asked about Ryan's profanity on HBO's "Hard Knocks" two years ago (not to mention his clever use of the word "nuts" in reference to draft bust Vernon Gholston). Tebow mustered his best seasoned veteran voice and pretty much said the Jets aren't the only team that uses profanity.
Tebow was engaging and likable on the call, which ended just before midnight Wednesday in New York, when many around his age in the city were getting ready to leave their apartments for a sin-filled night out. Tebow said he was excited about the opportunity to become a Jet and wanted to help the team. Then, he repeated that answer for just about every question.
There was one revelation: Tebow said he didn't have a choice in his final destination -- who do we think he is, Peyton Manning? – and that it was Denver's decision all along.
"Ultimately, I really didn't have any because the Broncos had all that power," Tebow said, brushing aside reports (including one on ESPN) that he controlled where he would end up and adding that Denver was "gracious" in the way it handled the process. "I was just kind of watching and waiting -- kind of like everybody else. It was an interesting day."
And that really isn't a surprise when the other finalist, the Jacksonville Jaguars, was in his home state of Florida. Like he would opt for a blue state where red meat, mom and apple pie can be legally declared contraband if found in your possession on alternating Tuesdays. Or as I like to call it, home.
New York must be one of those heaven-sent tests, like wandering in the desert or pious Job being consigned to the ash heap. The Jets' fan base seemed stunned the team traded for Tebow and his new teammates. Just ask Antonio "We don't need Tebow" Cromartie how happy he is to get the publicity magnet.
(As an aside, would love to overhear a conversation between those two on family planning.)
I'm sure Tebow will feel much more at home when Santonio Holmes takes him out for a welcome-to-New York dinner. Or maybe not, given the wide receiver's track record with existing Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez. The Jets' locker room, after all, was a dysfunctional place at the end of last season, when a few players anonymously and privately said Sanchez had peaked as a quarterback.
Will it be long before those same players start quietly saying they'd like to see more Tebow? Really, this could ultimately be more of a divine challenge for Sanchez. Then there will be the charity events and nights out when Sanchez is entertaining fans who keep looking over his shoulder and asking, "Hey, is Tim Tebow going to be here? No? Valet, get my car."
Even if Sanchez and Tebow are personally friendly, and they have been friends for a few years, it's an awkward dynamic.
Forget the on-the-field competition; TMZ has already slapped up the "Who'd you rather?" headline over pictures of the two robust young signal-callers. Just wait until the fans of No. 15 set up tailgates next to some of No. 6's supporters.
Are the Tebow fans really willing to come to New York, where a decent hotel room will set you back 200 clams? Do the legions of Tebow fans even have anything in common with Jets fans? Given the number of beer bottles I have to avoid driving out of the MetLife parking lot after games, I'm guessing many Jets fans don't think of alcohol as wicked. Although I imagine they would have no trouble learning to Tebow, the verb, if it got them their first Super Bowl victory since 1969.
All it will take is a few Sanchez interceptions for Jets fans to warm up to their backup. Tebow is, by all accounts, a polite, genuine person. And he could fit the Jets' scheme well.
Perhaps Tebow will find his way through the forest of temptations. And maybe he can think of this as a kind of purgatory, where he bides his time until there is a team that wants him as a starting quarterback.
Like maybe the Jets.