Jets fans, is Tebow-mania officially dead?

November, 7, 2012
11/07/12
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Jets FansElsa/Getty ImagesThere was a lot of hoopla when Tim Tebow arrived for the Jets, but he hasn't delivered.
New York Jets coach Rex Ryan isn't tipping his hand on how he'll use backup quarterback Tim Tebow.

“We will be doing some different things,” Ryan told the media this week. “I don’t want to get into the specifics of it. I hope you understand."

The only things fans understand is:

• The once-promising team is 3-5 with a tough matchup this weekend at the surging Seattle Seahawks.

• Ryan on Tuesday was voted the most overrated coach in a Sporting News players' poll.

• And Tebow recently was voted the most overrated player in a Sports Illustrated players' poll.

Is Tebow-mania officially dead?

"Right now, I'd say yes. Especially in the Northeast, people love to follow winners," said Mitchell Modell, CEO of national chain Modell's Sporting Goods. "And that's not the case with Tebow right now. I'm not saying that it won't turn around, but not right now."

ESPN broadcaster Mike Greenberg, a lifelong Jets fan, was a little more blunt: "I think it is dead, and they killed it. Their use of him, or lack thereof, has been the least creative coaching I have ever seen."

The Jets, in third place in the AFC East, still haven't figured out what to do with the unorthodox Tebow, who was acquired in the spring from the Denver Broncos.

Tebow, selected in the first round of the 2010 NFL draft, is averaging only eight offensive snaps per game. He has rushed 22 times for only 76 yards, and he has completed only two of three passes, including one completion on a fake punt.

[+] EnlargeNew York Jets fans
Robert Duyos/Sun Sentinel/Getty ImagesWith a 3-5 record, can the Jets turn it around in the second half?
And like it or not, the Jets are sticking with Mark Sanchez as starting quarterback.

Ryan was asked specifically about using Tebow more, and his response was: “I guess we’ll see.”

Not a lot of confidence there.

Tebow himself is saying the right things.

"I'm just ready and anxious for when my number's called to just try to help this team," Tebow told ESPNNewYork.com recently. "The same attitude I've had the whole time, and when my number's called, just want to have competitive excellence to help these guys."

But the fans' frustration is an all-time high, especially when the New York Giants -- who just came off a championship Super Bowl season -- play in the same MetLife Stadium as the Jets.

Scott Salmon, feature writer for the Jets' fan site Gang Green Nation, said that fans of the Jets -- who haven't won a Super Bowl in more than 40 years -- always question why they are Jets fans.

"Every year the season starts where you think this is our year, but then reality sets in," Salmon said. "I think the Jets this season are in a tough situation."

Salmon said he thinks the Jets are in a Catch-22: If Sanchez struggles and you play Tebow and he struggles, can you go back to Sanchez?

"Overall, I think people still are in favor of Sanchez," Salmon said. "I think they [the coaches] don't really trust Tebow. They don't think he can do it."

The Gotham Gators -- a 1,000-member fan club organization in the New York area for fans of the Florida Gators -- would like Tebow to at least get that opportunity.

"We've never lost faith in Tebow. At heart, Tebow is a winner," said Nicole Weltman, president of the Gotham Gators. "With the way the season is going, I'm thinking that if you need a miracle and your backs are against the wall, my guy would be Tim Tebow."

From a marketing perspective, Ketchum Sports & Entertainment vice president Patrick Wixted said he doesn't think Tebow is finished. The quarterback, who recently had his high school number retired, still has endorsement deals with Jockey, Nike, EA Sports and Soul headphones.

[+] EnlargeSanchez/Tebow
AP Photo/Seth WenigObviously, a team is more likely to replace a starter if it has a viable alternative. Are the Jets better off with Mark Sanchez or Tim Tebow taking the snaps?
"I think right now it's more wait-and-see, but he still has marketability, just not in the New York market. New Yorkers really care only about what you put on the field," Wixted said. "He would have more appeal in the South or the Midwest. He's a great role model with strong character traits and values. Brands would want to align with him."

Ryan Lochte, who is Tebow's friend and also a Florida Gators graduate, has some advice for Tebow. Lochte waited in the wings while Michael Phelps was the darling in past Olympics. Lochte persevered and eventually won 11 medals.

"Stay focused and true to yourself. As long as you keep improving, you'll get your shot," Lochte said. "When your time is right, you'll show the rest of the world what you're capable of doing."

That was the case in Denver as Tebow waited behind starting quarterback Kyle Orton last year. Fans camped out to catch a glimpse of Tebow at practice. When the Broncos' season got off to a slow start, the coaches turned to Tebow. Ticket demand went through the roof as he led Denver to the playoffs, and when the Broncos beat the Steelers in the first round, Tebow really was the "Mile High Messiah."

Denver Post columnist Woody Paige said Tebow will be a factor in people's lives for the next 40 years.

"He will be either an evangelist or a U.S. senator. He's building hospitals and orphanages already," Paige said. "He's such a great communicator. He will be prominent even after his football days are over. Tebow-mania in some form will never disappear."

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