The New York Jets are visiting Miami this week for a clash with the Dolphins. While this usually means a hard-fought rivalry game, a new dimension has been added this season in the form of Tim Tebow, the Jets' backup quarterback and (arguably) star attraction.
The Miami Dolphins, though, don't seem to get why Tebow gets so much attention from the national media. "It's a case of, you've got a good PR guy," LB Kevin Burnett told the Miami Herald Wednesday. "I need to call him up, find out who he is."
Tebow started 13 games for the Denver Broncos last season, leading the team to a playoff victory in the Wild Card round against Pittsburgh. His 6 game-winning drives were second only to Eli Manning of the New York Giants.
Tebowmania picked up major steam in Miami last season, when Tebow threw two touchdowns in the final 2:44 of a Week 7 game against the Dolphins to force overtime. The Broncos ended up winning, giving Tebow the victory in his first start of the 2011 season.
But when the Broncos signed Peyton Manning over the offseason, Tebow became expendable, and he was shipped to the Jets. Though he does not start in New York, Jets offensive coordinator (and former Dolphins coach) Tony Sparano will occasionally insert Tebow as a Wildcat quarterback to make use of his running ability.
Even so, he has just played on 13 offensive snaps through three games, hardly the kind of action that normally merits a GQ cover.
Dolphins WR Brian Hartline equated Tebow with reality TV stars. "Everybody loves him, but the same people go with the Kardashians," he said. "I don't know what they did either. They're on every cover, everywhere."
Worried that he might give the Jets too much motivational bulletin board material, Hartline added, "Tim Tebow won a lot of football games in college. He's won basically wherever he's gone."
DT Jared Odrick went a step further, saying "You don't want to know my real answer" when asked what he thought about Tebow. "I'd be on the front page of every newspaper. And I'd definitely be on [sports blog] Deadspin."
Indeed, the hype seems a bit much for a player who is used more often on punt protection than offense. The Jets seem confident so far to use Tebow as a decoy, making opposing defenses spend time planning how to stop Tebow, and taking away preparation time that could be used to study starting QB Mark Sanchez.
Tebow is bound to get more snaps on offense sooner or later, but whether those snaps will make the amount of time opponents prepare for him worth it remains to be seen. For now, Tebow is still the most glorified backup quarterback in the history of the NFL.