A mile away in downtown Cortland, storefronts are decorated in Jets green and white, with signs welcoming the players, coaches and fans. At Bernard’s Custom Logo and Trophy Shop, a full window display is dedicated to Tebow with a huge picture of the quarterback and “TEBOWMANIA!” blaring at everyone walking by. Customers can choose from at least a half-dozen T-shirts dedicated to Tebow — a marketing touchdown for Steve Wineberg, president of Bernard’s.
“He saw an opportunity there and ran with it, and I think he’s glad he did,” Mr. Dempsey said. “For him, it’s been Christmas in August, literally, with the sales from that promotion he’s done there.”
Across the street, Hairy Tony’s restaurant greets diners with a huge, fierce-looking blowup of the Jets player. Owner Tony Caruso knew this summer might be different when he heard that the Jets acquired Tebow from Denver in March.
“It wasn’t a unique reaction, that’s for sure,” Mr. Caruso said. “We were like, ‘It’s going to be a big circus here.’ And, I have to say, yes, Tebow being here has had an effect. We’re having a steady, strong year. It’s been predictable.”
George Seibel, owner of the Dark Horse Tavern next door to Hairy Tony’s, also said business has been terrific with Tebow in town. He even heard from a niece in North Carolina who wanted a favor.
“She asked me that if I see Tebow, if I can get her his autograph,” Mr. Seibel said with a laugh. “And she doesn’t even care about football.”
Fans are allowed to watch most of the Jets‘ practices. Other than a handful of hecklers who mocked Tebow for his penchant for holding on to the ball too long, he has received mostly big cheers — especially when he takes off and runs with the football, something the Jets surely will take advantage of this season.
Tebow is a rock star, and the people of Cortland can’t get enough.
“He’s doing really well with it and they are, for the most part, great people,” said Mr. Sanchez, who compared the attention Tebow gets to a Grateful Dead concert. “They come out and support us and him, so it has been fun for all of us.”
Especially for the town of Cortland.
“It’s so great,” Tebow said with a huge smile. “You have a lot of great, passionate fans out here.”