DENVER, CO - NOVEMBER 17: Tim Tebow (15) of the Denver Broncos prays during the final minute of the game against the New York Jets at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on November 17, 2011 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Garrett W. Ellwood/Getty Images)
While New York is The City That Never Sleeps, it's also The City That Blows Things Out of Proportion, The City That Loves Hype and The City That Feeds On Hysteria. So if the question at the beginning of The Odd Couple was, "Can two divorced men share an apartment without driving each other crazy?" then today's query is, "Can one city handle two manias without exploding into a fiery ball of hyperbolic delirium?" We already have Jeremy Lin, so now take Tim Tebow, Tebowing and all the hype, hoopla and hysteria that comes with it, mix it with New York City, shake well -- and what do you get? Tebowmania and Linsanity squared to the nth degree.
Controversy in New York is usually a Reggie-Billy-George love/hate triangle, a bombastic, larger-than-life Joe Namath making a guarantee come true, a Plaxico Burress shooting himself in the leg, a celebrity free agent signing gone horribly, horribly wrong -- most often something negative. But now we have a pair of lightning rods, with endless debate about both athletes' talent and future success. Their celebrity transcends what they do during a game, though, as each brings a unique set of characteristics and skill (or lack of skill) sets to the table, which is why their popularity -- or ensuing backlash -- is so high.
This past autumn gave us a glimpse into the hype of a sensation with Victor Cruz and his salsa-dancing success story. But that was just a warmup for Linsanity, as the New York Knicks' point guard seemingly arrived from nowhere (ok, the waiver wire and Harvard) to transform the Knicks into a winning team, and he's caused a frenzy in New York and just about every city he's played in. And that will most likely just be an appetizer for Tebowmania. Will we all be able to contain ourselves for half a year until football season begins again? Unlikely.
Besides the hoopla and endless debate about their skill and talent, one common theme of Tebow and Lin (and Cruz as well) is that they are both mature, respectful citizens and good teammates. And we can never have enough if those guys. Yes, Tebow and Lin get mocked for their wholesomeness (well, especially Tebow: "In order to win a Super Bowl, the Broncos had to sacrifice a virgin" is one running joke) and may be too good for their own good, but who would you rather root for? A do-gooding, humble, religious man or a player who's just as likely to end up in a police lineup as the opening-day lineup? If Gary Carter could thrive and somehow fit it on the bad-guy 1986 Mets, maybe Tebow can find a place in the New York Jets locker room, whose players have been doing a pretty good job of impersonating those Mets (but without the championship).
If a big reason for trading for Tebow was publicity and raking in sales from merchandise and tickets, then the Jets succeeded. But they may be taking a page out of the Knicks' playbook by just adding guys who become available without any real plan or preparation, and in the Knicks' case it led to the departure of Mike D'Antoni. So if this Tebow thing doesn't pan out, this could be the end of Mike Tannenbaum, as he's put his own neck on the chopping block with this transaction.
The Jeremy Lin Story occurred naturally and organically and popped up unexpectedly after Lin spent his college career and rookie season anonymously, while Tebow was a celebrity in college and Tebowmania has followed the unorthodox quarterback everywhere he's gone. And now it comes to New York, side by side with Linsanity. Will New York be able to survive? Will Tim Tebow be able to survive? If any city can handle both, it's New York, right? Actually, New York is bigger than both of them, and once they succeed, fail, thrive or get eaten alive, it will move on to the next big thing. But for now, let's get down on one knee, and do some Tebowing. And maybe, just maybe, a little of Tebow's humbleness will rub off onto his new coach, Rex Ryan. Then at least something good will have come from his trade to the Jets.