This week was the calm after the storm after the previous week's avalanche of craziness. We didn't get to just ignore Tim Tebow, though, once the trade got its official stamp of approval on Saturday, as the New York Jets went full-on Tebowmania with a press conference on Monday for their new backup quarterback (which a few of his new teammates weren't especially happy about). If it's all a publicity stunt, mission accomplished, but do the Jets really know what they're getting themselves into? Tebow answered all questions with his usual politeness, and he's so accustomed to the fanaticism and lunacy he causes that not even the New York media crush can faze him. Has there ever been so much hoopla for such a well-mannered young man?
At any rate, here a few questions that were not asked at the press conference nor could they be answered as of yet:
Are the Jets aware of the full extent of the frenzy that Tebow inspires?
Will their plan of Tebow just playing in a few select packages per game work?
Or will he end up as the starter?
Or even a true backup?
How will all this affect Mark Sanchez?
Do the Jets even care?
Will both quarterbacks bomb?
Will playing less make Tebow a better quarterback?
Is he really just a novelty? Is he the 1970s Oakland A's failed-experiment designated-runner Herb Washington of the NFL? Is Tebow more one-armed Pete Gray than Fran Tarkenton? More Gheorghe Muresan or Dave Schultz than a legitimate NFL talent? A one-trick pony, an attraction?
The jury is still out on Tebow and how the Jets will use him, but it will no doubt be interesting to see how this all plays out. One thing's for sure, though, Jets games will be must-watch TV in the 2012 season, so they at least have that going for them.
And now on to the other top stories of the week in the world of New York sports.
Steppin' Up: After the New York Knicks' first loss in the Mike Woodson era on Friday, when they fell to the Toronto Raptors in an all-around clunker, they put up pictures of the NBA championship trophy over their lockers as inspiration for their ultimate goal. And the results showed that the photos worked (though there may be a curse of Larry O'Brien going on, as Knick players started dropping like flies). On Saturday, they blew out the Detroit Pistons, 101-79, but lost Amar'e Stoudemire, who's out two to four weeks with a bulging disk in his back, and Jeremy Lin, who's day-to-day with a sore knee (not to mention still missing Jared Jeffries). With their depth and chemistry put to the test in Monday's showdown with the Milwaukee Bucks and Wednesday's challenge against the first-place Orlando Magic, the Knicks passed with flying colors. Not only did a hobbled Carmelo Anthony play like the star he's supposed to be in both wins (is this what he really wants, by the way, all the focus and load on him?), but everyone stepped up, especially Iman Shumpert on Wednesday, who moved into the starting small forward role. The Knicks continued their excellent defense under Woodson, and the ball-sharing offense that was the key to Linsanity has sparked the offense.
Still in First: Like the Knicks, the New York Rangers lost on Friday, doomed by the odd-man-rush tidal wave of the Buffalo Sabres (and they lost a player as well, when Mats Zuccarello broke his wrist). But also like the Knicks, they recovered with three consecutive victories, led by their captain, Ryan Callahan. In Saturday's 4-3 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs, it was Callahan who scored the shootout winner, after Marian Gaborik had netted two goals during regulation. They narrowly defeated the Minnesota Wild, 3-2, on Tuesday, and then Callahan put on a show in Wednesday's 4-2 win in Winnipeg. And "putting on a show" for Callahan doesn't mean fancy, dipsy-doodle displays of skill but instead blocking shots, relentlessly forechecking, killing penalties and hitting opponents. His hard work led to the Rangers' first goal, which came while shorthanded, and he tied the game with a power-play goal. The Rangers are beginning to get that winning feeling again, and getting back to the "Ranger Way" of playing as they get closer to the playoffs. And the "Ranger Way" is, of course, the "Ryan Callahan Way."
Shootouts & Shortys: The New Jersey Devils' week began with Pete DeBoer and Lou Lamoriello being reprimanded by the league for the fights that opened the game against the Rangers, though they weren't fined or suspended in any bounty-like penalization. And in their games this week, much like their season, they lived and died by the shootout -- though they mostly live by the shootout, as they've thrived and depended on the skills competition all season long. After gaining a point against the Maple Leafs on Friday in a rare shootout loss, they defeated the Chicago Blackhawks, 2-1, in a shootout on Tuesday. In between, they lost to the Pittsburgh Penguins, 5-2, on Sunday in Travis Zajac's return, but on Thursday they whipped the Tampa Bay Lightning, 6-4, getting some much-needed scoring and also notching their league-leading 15th shorthanded goal, which was a big step in getting their game back in order as they're one win (or one Capitals loss) away from clinching a playoff spot.
Thank You: On Tuesday and Thursday, the New York Islanders surprisingly and impressively defeated one of their most hated rivals, the Penguins, twice by the same score of 5-3 (with Josh Bailey having the game of his life with two goals and three assists in the second contest), putting a dent in the Penguins' chase of the Rangers for first place. Of course, the Islanders were also doing their biggest rival, the Rangers, a favor in the process. The Blueshirts owe the Isles one big gift basket. The Islanders also beat the Florida Panthers this week, 4-3, in a shootout and lost to the Tampa Bay Lightning on Saturday, but Matt Moulson scored his 100th career goal in that game. The New Jersey Nets are heading toward the spoiler portion of their season. They flip-flopped wins and losses this week: After losing to the Atlanta Hawks on Friday, they beat the Charlotte Bobcats, then lost to the Utah Jazz but ended their week with a win over the Indiana Pacers. They also lost Brook Lopez for a couple of weeks, as a small crack was detected in his ankle. He just can't catch a break this season.
One Week to Go: Joba Chamberlain joined a long line of baseball players with bizarre injuries when he suffered an open dislocation of a joint near his heel jumping on a trampoline only weeks after teammate David Robertson fell down a flight of stairs. Chamberlain is most likely out for the season, after making huge strides in his comeback from Tommy John surgery. At any rate, the New York Yankees reliever will forever be placed aside Glenallen Hill who once had to go on the DL after having a nightmare about spiders, jumped out of bed, crashed into a glass table and fell down the stairs, and John Smoltz who burned himself while ironing a shirt he was wearing, and Clint Barmes who broke his collarbone carrying deer meat up a flight of stairs, and Adam Eaton who stabbed himself in the stomach while trying to open a DVD. In less drastic, less unfortunate and more prosaic news for the Yankees, Derek Jeter returned, Robertson appeared in his first few games after his accident, Raul Ibanez hit a pair of home runs, Joe Girardi (unintentionally I'm sure) stuck it to Bobby Valentine by playing extra-inning games against everybody but the Boston Red Sox this week (well, the Tigers twice and the Braves once), Hiroki Kuroda had two solid outings, CC Sabathia threw six innings in his second-to-last spring start, Andy Pettitte's workouts are going fine and he hasn't re-retired yet and it's looking like the last spot in the rotation will come down to either Michael Pineda or Ivan Nova.
Getting Healthy: David Wright made his spring debut on Monday, singling in his first at-bat while also making a nice diving play at third, and he belted a grand slam on Thursday, Johan Santana continues to progress, Scott Hairston saw some game action this week, Jason Bay was hit in the forearm but he miraculously won't have to begin the season on the DL, Lucas Duda continued with his spring home-run and RBI barrage, Jon Niese threw six strong innings on Wednesday, Chris Young is back once again, Mike Pelfrey had his best outing of the spring on Thursday, pitching six-plus innings and only allowing one run, and the team will honor Gary Carter on opening day with a moment of silence and have his family throw out the ceremonial first pitch, which was all good news for the New York Mets as they're getting closer to fielding a full, healthy team with opening day less than a week away. Also in the news was R.A. Dickey, who courageously revealed, in his upcoming book, Wherever I Wind Up, that he was sexually abused as a child. In this era of Jerry Sandusky and Bernie Fine, his confession can only help victims, as they can see how someone grew up to succeed despite that childhood tragedy. Dickey stated, "A lot of times sexual abuse can be, it's almost like the bullying stuff. Unless you talk about it and unless it gets out there, unless you know there are people that care about you regardless of what's happened to you, unless you know that it's hard to get to a place where you get comfortable not only talking about that, but talking about what it's made you into."
We Hardly Knew Ya: On Friday, the Jets traded Drew Stanton and a seventh-round pick to the Indianapolis Colts for a sixth-round pick. He never got to play for the Jets, but he will now be the answer to a trivia question. And Darrelle Revis raised a few eyebrows this week by claiming the Jets locker room was still in "disarray" and calling Bill Belichick a "jerk."
The Defense of Their Title Begins: The New York Giants are close to giving Tom Coughlin a well-deserved contract extension, while former Giants Brandon Jacobs signed with the San Francisco 49ers and Devin Thomas went to the Chicago Bears, and it was announced that Big Blue will begin the defense of their Super Bowl title by opening the NFL season at home on Wednesday, Sept. 5, against the loathed Dallas Cowboys. We can't wait.
And that's the New York week that was.