Friday, March 23, 2012

Tebowmania in the Big Apple – a disaster waiting to unfold

Late Wednesday evening, the New York Jets completed what one day may be recognized as one of, if not, the most nonsensical trades in National Football League history – picking up Tim Tebow from the Denver Broncos. The Jets and the Broncos exchanged two late round 2012 selections in April’s NFL Draft and the Jets fourth round pick for Tebow. Tebow, a second string NFL quarterback who believes he should be an NFL starting quarterback, will create turmoil and unrest in the Jets locker room.

“I don’t think they know what they’re doing over there right now. . . . I’m baffled,” former Jets and Hall of Fame Quarterback Joe Namath said on ESPN Radio on Wednesday. “They’re kind of mixed up over there. I’m talking about the folks that are making the decisions.

“Come on. This is crazy,” Namath said. “I don’t know what it’s about. It appears the Jets are trying to grab headlines once again just by making noise.”

Two weeks ago the Jets signed their current starting quarterback Mark Sanchez to a three-year contract extension for $40.5M and he now has five years remaining on his deal for a total of $58.25 million.

Sanchez will earn $20.5M guaranteed over next two seasons. The Jets starting quarterback, their leader on the field is Sanchez.

Now add the arrival of Tebow, one of the most polarizing players in National Football League history. He was drafted by the Denver Broncos as the 25th overall pick in the 2010 NFL Draft. Two NFL seasons later, Tebow was traded for a fourth round draft pick. The Broncos were forced to trade Tebow after signing 36-year old NFL free-agent Quarterback Peyton Manning to a five-year $95 million contract Tuesday.

Loved by millions, but not appreciated by just as many, Tebow led the Broncos to an improbable 2011 AFC West Division title. He started three meaningless games during his 2010 rookie season, became the Broncos starting quarterback during week seven of the 2011 season – after media pundits suggested Tebow was fourth on the Broncos three-man quarterback depth chart during the Broncos pre-season.

Kyle Orton started the 2011 season directing the Broncos offense. The Broncos started their 2011 season winning one game, while losing the team’s four other games. In late September, a group of Broncos fans decided they wanted to see Tebow quarterback their team. Saving for a trip to see a Super Bowl, employees at Denver’s Multiline International Imports spent more than $10,000 on a digital billboard that read: Broncos Fans to John Fox: Play Tebow!” The image then rotated to show a picture of Tebow coming out of the tunnel at the Broncos’ stadium.

Shortly after the billboard appeared Broncos head Coach John Fox announced that Tebow would replace Kyle Orton as the Broncos starting quarterback.

Sanchez took the Jets to the AFC title game in his first two years as the Jets starting quarterback. The Jets didn’t make the playoffs last year. The 2011 Jets season ended with the team losing the last three games of the regular season, on the outside looking in, as the playoffs began. In a tear-filled wrap up to his team’s season, Jets head coach Rex Ryan admitted his team had been dysfunctional on and off the field.

The Jets imploded near the end of the 2011 season, unnamed teammates criticizing Sanchez in the New York media in the days leading up to the Jets season ending loss to the Dallas Cowboys that cost the Jets a playoff spot.

"It is a gutless thing to do," Sanchez said during an interview on "The Michael Kay Show" on ESPN1050 in New York, in reference to the anonymous attacks earlier this month.

Later, in a 25-minute interview with the media, Sanchez added: "If you're not going to put your name on something, why waste anybody's time? Obviously, they had strong opinions about it, but not strong enough to say who they were. "

Into this mix, Tim Tebow and “Tebowmania” arrive in the biggest NFL market. Nine daily newspapers, two cable sports channels, three all-sports radio stations – the arrival of Tim Tebow is a disaster waiting to happen.

As for reactions from current Jets, TE Jeff Cumberland tweeted, "Welcome a bored [sic] Tebow."

"I think for the Jets this is an abject disaster," former player Mark Schlereth said on ESPN NY 1050.

Jets Cornerback Antonio Cromartie, took to Twitter on Wednesday to express his confidence in Sanchez and the offense as structured before the deal was finalized.

"Y bring Tebow in when we need to bring in more Weapons for (at)Mark_Sanchez," Cromartie tweeted. "Let's build the team around him. We already signed to 3 year ext."

Tim Tebow, the new NY Jets quarterback, will be a big hit like Jeremy Lin on Madison Ave., only adding to the challenge Jets Head Coach Rex Ryan faces when Tebow arrives at the Jets training camp in July.

“Tim Tebow can be the king,” marketing expert Ronn Torossian, the CEO and president of 5W Public Relations in New York told the New York Daily News. “In terms of the Tebow brand, I think that Tim Tebow is already a national celebrity. He’s known off the field. There is no bigger place to shine than in New York City and I think the Tebow brand is one that transcends sports. I think the guy can get unlimited sponsorships in New York City.”

Torossian’s assessment is correct. Tim Tebow and the people who represent him in the marketplace, have done a wonderful job selling Tebow’s image. Tebow’s face will be on billboards throughout the Greater New York area (29 million people), and in commercials on one of countless New York television stations. There are more than 100 TV shows taped in New York City, many of those shows will be interested in having Tebow appear on their shows – Tim Tebow has always been interested in taking advantage of every media opportunity he has been presented with.

The spotlight Tim Tebow is going to attract everyday he is in New York as the Jets backup quarterback isn’t going to help Mark Sanchez. The spotlight Tim Tebow is going to attract everyday he is in New York isn’t going to help Jets Coach Rex Ryan gain control of the Jets dysfunctional locker room. The Jets have a rapid fan base, and the first time Mark Sanchez makes a mistake in a Jets game, Broncos fans putting up billboards in the Denver area will seem like a non-reaction when compared to how vocal and demonstrative Jets fans will be in wanting to see Tebow play for the Jets.

Tim Tebow heading to the York Jets is a disaster waiting to happen.

For Sports Business News, this is Howard Bloom

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