- Associated Press - Saturday, July 28, 2012

CORTLAND, N.Y. (AP) - Tebowmania nearly got rained out.

The expected wild scene as Jets fans descended on this central New York college town for the team’s first public practice was tamed by the elements Saturday. Except for scattered cheers and a handful of hecklers shouting comments about the popular backup quarterback’s penchant for holding the ball too long before throwing, it was a relatively uneventful session.

Although the sight of a thoroughly soaked Tim Tebow jogging bare-chested through the deluge after practice might have excited more than a few folks. It even left coach Rex Ryan somewhat speechless.

“Don’t know if I’m there yet,” Ryan said of casting off his shirt, too, even if he has lost 100 pounds.

The wet conditions seemed to cut down not only on the fans’ enthusiasm, but on the number of banners on display. One man wore a green and white shirt with “Mark 6:15 Thou Shalt Have Only One Quarterback” printed on the front.

Real scripture? Not quite.

Mark would be Sanchez, the incumbent QB and the guy who wears the No. 6 jersey to Tebow’s 15. The fan in the shirt, Todd Harmon of Buffalo _ a tough place to be a Jets fan, he admitted _ made the three-hour drive to support Sanchez, but also to observe Tebow.

“I think having him here will help Mark push through and will motivate Mark,” Harmon said. “He’s never had someone pushing him.”

True enough. And from what everyone has seen from the fourth-year pro early in camp, he is responding. Sanchez has looked sharp, throwing darting spirals and hitting his targets in stride.

Even in a downpour.

“Mark can spin it in any conditions,” Ryan said.

As for Tebow, well, as one impatient observer shouted from the grandstand as the rain pelted down: “Throw it, Tebow!” And when he connected with a receiver, the same fan added: “Wow, you completed one!”

After a wobbly toss, another fan shouted: “That’s a Tebow ball!”

Yes, the natives seemed restless.

That doesn’t mean they are losing faith in Tebow, whose enormous national following has made him a lightning rod wherever he has played. Give everyone a sunny day and a few precise passes from the left-hander and joy will reign in Cortland.

Story Continues →