New York sure to test Tebow, on and off the field

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Now, Tebow walks into a city where fans won’t have any qualms about sharing their feelings _ these are fans who make a near-annual ritual of booing their top draft pick when his name is announced _ and onto a team that already has a shaky situation with its quarterback, Mark Sanchez.

Sanchez’s psyche was already fragile after the debacle that was last season and seeing the Jets pine for Manning couldn’t have helped. Then, not two weeks after he’s signed to a three-year extension, the Jets go out and get Tebow.

“Mark Sanchez is, has been and will be our starting quarterback,” Jets general manager Mike Tannenbaum said late Wednesday.

Uh-huh. The Broncos said similar things about Kyle Orton, and he finished last season in Kansas City.

The New York fan base is notoriously fickle _ Linsanity? That’s so two weeks ago _ and one interception by Sanchez, heck, one glare from Santonio Holmes, and Jets fans will be calling for Tebow. The tabloids won’t even be that restrained; one paper Thursday featured the Statue of Liberty, Tebowing.

“We obviously know that Tim has a magnetic following,” Tannenbaum said. “We understand the popularity of the backup quarterback, and this one is more unique than others.”

“Unique,” that’s a good way of putting it.

Tebow has had a large and fervent following since his days at Florida, and as much as the two national titles he brought to the program, he drew people in because of his Christian faith. He is hardly the first player to name-drop God or kneel in prayer amid the chaos of a game; Jeremy Lin, New York’s most recent fad, makes no secret of his Christian faith, either.

But Tebow is seen as more outspoken, more passionate. As appealing as that is to some, it’s a turnoff for others, and there is very little middle ground to be found.

“I’m sure that there will be plenty of scoffing at Tim Tebow and his kind of earnest, evangelical spirituality,” Dodd said.

That may have been part of the reason the Jets wanted him, however.

Now that the Oakland Raiders are on good behavior, the Jets have assumed the title of the NFL’s bad boys: brash, mouthy, itching to stir up trouble. Oh, it’s entertaining at first; at times, “Hard Knocks” felt like a football version of “Dance Moms.”

But the act can wear thin fast _ especially when a team and its coach aren’t winning.

Tebow “models this life of serving other people, of selflessness, these character traits that, at end of day, are conducive to winning,” Dodd said. “Even though his status as an NFL quarterback is open to question and we don’t know what we’re getting from him as a quarterback, you definitely know what you’re getting from him as a person and that’s a person of character. Strong leadership ability, the capacity to rally people around him.

“Maybe they’re hoping that will rub off on people.”

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