Now it is done. Now the story ends. And there is no way to tell it. The art of fiction is dead. Reality has strangled invention. Only the utterly impossible, the inexpressibly fantastic, can ever be plausible again. –Red Smith, New York Herald Tribune, Oct. 4, 1951
Red Smith wrote what Deadspin called the greatest lede ever after Bobby Thomson hit the Shot Heard ‘Round The World. But viewed in a farcical light, the sentiment is perfect for the Masterpiece Theater that is the Jets and their new most famous player, backup quarterback Tim Tebow.
TebowMania kicked off Monday with a noon press conference introducing the polarizing QB to the New York media horde. A quick primer from a football standpoint: The Jets effectively traded backup QB Drew Stanton for Brad Smith 2.0, and while Rex Ryan said he may use Tebow in the Wildcat formation up to 20 times a game, the reality is that Tebow and Mark Sanchez can’t both live up to their potential (or ever feel comfortable) on the same team. It’s simply too much to ask of two aggressively mediocre signal-callers.
Alright, enough foreplay. Here’s how Tebow’s introduction went down.
11:58 — Welcome to ESPN2, where #TebowTakesManhattan happens! Seriously, that’s the Twitter hashtag the Worldwide Leader has introduced for Monday’s press conference.
12:00 — The screen is one-quarter press conference, one-quarter Skip Bayless typing on a computer, and one-half a list of Skip’s tweets. This must be what Hell is like.
12:02 — “I don’t normally like press conferences for backup QBs, but… #TebowTake Manhattan!” That quote actually just happened.
12:03 — The count is 31 TV tripods and more than 10 satellite trucks to cover the event. So many media members requested credentials that the Jets had to move the conference to their practice fieldhouse. Maybe Tebow can underthrow a couple media guys after the questions are over.
12:06 — The ESPN2 guys hammer Mark Sanchez for 95 uninterrupted seconds by comparing him unfavorably to Matt Ryan, elite NFL QBs, and even Tebow himself. “Tebow is every bit the clutch player that this guy is not,” Bayless said of Sanchez. And that’s tame coverage compared to the New York tabloids.
12:08 — TEEEEBBOOOWWWWWW!!!!! 150 members of the press watch Tebow stride to the podium.
12:09 — I really really hope anyone reading this enjoys it more than I enjoy a screen full of Skip Bayless’s tweets, which is about negative 1000%.
12:09 — First question is a softball about his emotions upon learning he was a Jet. “I was excited.”
12:10 — Tebow always sounds so breathless when he talks. He’s consistently got the voice of Tony Soprano after one of his extramarital romps.
12:12 — Here we go… “Do you want to be the starter?”
12:13 — Tebow artfully deflects the question with 60 seconds of platitudes. But yeah guys, it’s safe to say that an NFL backup QB wants to become the starter.
12:14 — Tebow and Sanchez have been friends for three years? Did Tebow protest one of Sanchez’s USC pool parties?
12:14 — Third straight question about Sanchez — Tebow: “I have a lot of respect for him as a player and a person. I think we’ll have a great working relationship supporting one another… hopefully we’ll be able to thrive together.” Yeah, right.
12:16 — Tebow sounds open to being used at positions other than QB. Though he didn’t look happy to be saying that.
12:17 — Tebow mentions a long-standing relationship with both Ryan and new offensive coordinator Tony Sparano for the second time. First interesting new piece of info — didn’t know he had past dealings with those guys.
12:18 — The other side of Tebow’s whole “work together as a team” collective-mentality words is that it makes him and Sanchez sound like equals.
12:19 — Sanchez and Tebow first met at the ESPYs? Natch.
12:21 — Blah blah blah what else is going on? Wait, the Jets’ most prominent sponsor on their ‘green screen’ is Toyota? BUY AMERICAN PEOPLE.
12:22 — Tebow and Ryan have the same agent. Not sure if that’s relevant, but still.
12:24 — The discussion turns to the pros of the Wildcat offense. Worth noting that Sparano used the Wildcat frequently with Ronnie Brown/Reggie Bush while he was head coach of the Dolphins.
12:25 — FIRST FAITH-BASED QUESTION!!! Tebow says he “not sure why” his signature pose is called “Tebowing”. If you believe that, I’ve got the Brooklyn Bridge to sell you.
12:27 — Discussing his charity work, Tebow is in his wheelhouse. Whatever you think about him as a player, he’s done a huge amount of good for the world.
12:28 — Says he was inspired to be charitable to fans when he waited hours to get an autograph from Danny Wuerffel, of all people. It’s a mad, mad world.
12:32 — The feed of the press conference takes up about 10% of my TV screen. Skip Bayless takes up about 70%. For God’s sake, ESPN.
12:34 — Tebow asked to expound on his faith and major political/religious issues. “We’re at a press conference for a football team, so maybe this isn’t the platform for those issues,” he replies. Very nice — those questions aren’t appropriate here.
12:37 — He’s really mastered the art of saying nothing in many words (in this case about how good a team the Jets are). Dick Vitale would be so proud.
12:40 — Message for Giants fans? “I wish them nothing but the best.” Yeah, right.
12:41 — For the fourth and fifth time, reminds media that the Jets brass scheduled this conference, not him.
12:42 — “Thank you everybody. God bless.” And that’s a wrap.
POST SCRIPT: If Tebow could play the field as well as he played the media today, he’d be a Pro Bowler. He escaped a 40-minute press conference without any incendiary quotes or controversial statements. That said, we just saw a 40-minute presser for a backup QB. This was just the appetizer. Training camp and the inevitable Sanchez struggles in preseason/early season is the real main course.