The New York Jets‘ new backup quarterback has a sandwich named after him at the Carnegie Deli and his picture on a billboard above the Lincoln Tunnel.
Welcome to New York, Tim Tebow.
If the Jets were looking for buzz when they traded for Tebow, after the former Denver Broncos starter was replaced by future Hall of Famer Peyton Manning in the Mile High City, they certainly got it. Tebow’s introductory press conference earlier this week at the Jets’ training facility drew more than 200 reporters, 36 camera crews and was carried live by most of New York City’s television outlets.
Tebow already had the No. 2-selling NFL jersey before the trade and those sales are likely to soar now that he’s in the Big Apple. In fact, Nike and Reebok are engaged in a legal battle over the rights to his replica jersey. Still, Tebow’s arrival hasn’t exactly led to a rush on the ticket windows for the Jets. At least not yet.
When Manning was signed by the Broncos, sales of their season tickets on StubHub.com saw a 25 percent jump within 24 hours of the news breaking that he was going to play in Denver. Similarly, StubHub saw huge spikes in searches and pageviews for Broncos tickets. Despite Tebow’s enormous popularity, the Jets haven’t enjoyed a similar boost in their season ticket sales.
Jets media relations coordinator Nick Filis told TicketNews he wasn’t sure about ticket sales since the trade, but for New York-area ticket broker Tom Patania, owner of Select-A-Ticket, the Jets weren’t even on his radar this week. “No, not right now,” Patania told Ticket News. “It’s all Final Four for us at the moment”
StubHub spokesperson Joellen Ferrer told TicketNews that after the initial flurry, Broncos season ticket sales have diminished and the Jets’ haven’t really taken off.
“Not much for Tebow,” Ferrer said, “but overall demand has subsided for both he and Peyton.”
Chris Matcovich, spokesman for ticket search site TiqIQ.com, said Jets ticket activity on his site has actually decreased slightly.
“Not much ticket-wise here,” Matcovich told TicketNews. “We have seen a near zero percent weekly trend for the Broncos and a slight dip of about 2 percent for the Jets season ticket packages, which can probably be attributed to a small increase in quantity. I think there will be more of a sense in terms of impact when the schedule is released in the middle of April.”
Granted, dates and times of the games have not been released yet. That will come in April 2012. The only NFL game that is set is the season opener, which will be at the MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J., the home field that the Jets share with the Super Bowl champion New York Giants. The NFL has set a Wednesday, September 5 date for the Giants to open against the Dallas Cowboys. Normally, the opener is on a Thursday, but the league wanted to avoid conflicting with President Barack Obama’s speech at the Democratic National Convention on September 6.
While dates for other games aren’t known yet, the opponents are. The Jets, after losses in their final three games last season led to them missing the playoffs and finishing at a disappointing 8-8, will play only three teams that made the playoffs: the New England Patriots, home and away, the Pittsburgh Steelers on the road and the Houston Texans at home. Higher demand will only increase a resale ticket price that had the highest average face value in the NFL last season at $120.85.
Incumbent Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez has said all the right things about welcoming Tebow to the team, but Sanchez will no doubt be looking over his shoulder wondering how secure his starting job is once training camp begins. Outspoken Jets coach Rex Ryan has also expressed confidence that his two quarterbacks can live together in harmony.
One thing is for sure, they’ll each have to play better for the Jets to be successful. Tebow’s 46.5 completion percentage was the 33rd in the NFL last season, Sanchez’s 56.7 was 27th.
Ryan has talked about using Tebow for up to 20 plays a game in a ”wildcat” offensive formation. Still, weeks before the trade, the Jets gave Sanchez a three-year, $40.5 million contract extension, with $20 million guaranteed, presumably to be the starting quarterback. One poor series by Sanchez should start the “Tebow” chants from the Jets faithful.
It all adds up to more drama in an already combustible locker room that saw its share of infighting last season and into the off-season. Add Tebow and his legion of fans — for whom he’s as much a cultural icon for his fervent fundamentalist Christian beliefs as he is a quarterback — the bombastic Ryan, and the glare of the New York spotlight to the mix, and the Jets will continue to be the most-talked about team in the NFL.
Perhaps that’s why the Jets wanted to bring Tebowmania to New York to begin with.