Magazine article The New Yorker

Backup

Magazine article The New Yorker

Backup

Article excerpt

At 2:30 P.M. last Wednesday, the sales clerks at the New York Jets' official retail shop, on Fiftieth Street off Madison Avenue, were awaiting word from management on what number the team's latest reported acquisition would be wearing on his jersey, and deflecting the early birds who stopped in, hoping to beat the merchandising rush. "You guys went from something to nothing all of a sudden," a security guard said to the clerks, marvelling, and then corrected himself: "Nothing to something, I mean." His confusion was understandable, given the circumstances. March is not traditionally a banner month in the N.F.L. retail business. The Jets, having opted out of the Peyton Manning sweepstakes (nothing), decided instead to double down on their commitment to Mark Sanchez (something?), giving him a three-year extension--and then appeared to pull off a stunning trade with Manning's new team, the Denver Broncos, for the guy Manning was replacing. That was Tim Tebow, of course, the sport's top-selling name, and clumsiest passer, not to mention its kneeling-Christian-in-chief.

An enterprising customer approached the store's FanZone terminal, a kind of A.T.M. for licensed gear, and selected the Jets' roster from the touch-screen menu. Voila! Tebow's name appeared among the options, on a green jersey bearing the number 15, his old Broncos digits. "Tebow's on there?" one of the clerks said. "Thank you, Jesus!" (Prepare yourself for months of such jokes.) She picked up the phone and called her superiors, who soon put the kibosh on selling any new Tebow gear, regardless of what the machine promised. There was a snag in the negotiations. The Broncos and the Jets couldn't agree on who should pay Tebow the five million dollars he is owed, according to his contract. Five million for a second-stringer? Never mind that his jersey sales would likely cover the balance.

A quick refresher, for the uninitiated: The Broncos selected Tebow, a homeschooled Heisman Trophy winner for the Florida Gators, in the first round of the 2010 draft, in spite of widespread scouting reports that dismissed his style of quarterbacking as unfit for the N.F.L. (In short, he runs but can't throw, or, as Matt Taibbi, of Rolling Stone, put it, "Tim Tebow trying to throw a forward pass is like a moose trying to fuck a washing machine.") Tebow then took over a lousy 2011 Broncos team, mid-season, and led them on an improbable run to the playoffs, where they defeated the heavily favored Pittsburgh Steelers before bowing out to Tom Brady's New England Patriots. …

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