By DENNIS WASZAK Jr., Associated Press
NEW YORK (AP) — Tebowmania's headed to New York, and the drama has already started for Jets fans.
It began the moment the Jets pulled off the deal for the Broncos quarterback. Or thought they did.
Eight hours and one huge snag later, the trade was on again. But not before the Jets added to the franchise's already lengthy list of embarrassing moments.
Sure, Tebowmania is coming to New York, but it certainly wasn't a smooth deal. And it didn't come without some controversy — something this Jets season could be filled with the moment Mark Sanchez struggles and restless fans call for Tebow to replace him.
"Mark Sanchez is, has been and will be our starting quarterback," general manager Mike Tannenbaum said on conference call late Wednesday night.
But the Jets have opened themselves — and Sanchez — to added pressure by bringing in Tebow. New York recently signed Sanchez to a three-year contract extension after falling out of the hunt for Peyton Manning, a vote of confidence for a quarterback whose pride took a serious shot at the end of last season as the Jets finished 8-8 and out of the playoffs. Some players questioned his leadership abilities, but Sanchez recently vowed to be the guy the franchise can lean on.
Turns out, Rex Ryan's Jets now have two of those guys, including one in Tebow who might automatically be the biggest star in New York right now. Not Sanchez. Not Derek Jeter. Not even Jeremy Lin.
"I'm just excited for him and to see what he does," Lin said in Philadelphia, where the Knicks beat the 76ers. "We'll see what happens next year."
Just a few weeks after "Linsanity" swept New York and the rest of the NBA, "Timsanity" now will take over New York after the Jets acquired the polarizing quarterback and a seventh-round draft pick from the Denver Broncos for fourth- and sixth-round picks.
Hall of Fame quarterback Joe Namath, who led the Jets to their only Super Bowl title in 1969, was among many who were unhappy about the deal.
"I'm just sorry that I can't agree with this situation. I think it's just a publicity stunt. I can't go with it. I think it's wrong," Namath told 1050 ESPN Radio on Wednesday. "I don't think they know what they're doing over there."
The trade was completed hours after the sides initially agreed to a deal, which was hung up when the Jets balked at repaying Denver more than $5 million for a salary advance due Tebow. The two sides agreed to split that cost, and Tannenbaum said the team was "comfortable with the compensation."
He said there was a disagreement about how to handle the salary advance after Denver received the papers.
"We knew what the contract was," he said. "We had read it. ... We felt it was one way; they felt it was another. Based on that, they were well within their rights to assess their different possibilities of what to do and their alternatives. And they did so throughout the day."
So the Jets waited and waited — and looked as if they had botched the big deal.
Despite ultimately pulling off the trade, it's just another bizarre moment for the Jets, conjuring memories of Bill Belichick's hiring as coach and his resignation one day later.
"I'm thankful they stuck with me through this whole crazy process," Tebow said, repeating several times that he was "excited" to be a member of the Jets.
But the deal also raised questions about the Jets' commitment to Sanchez, who received a $40.5 million contract extension, with $20.5 million guaranteed, earlier this month. During a call late Wednesday night, Tannenbaum repeatedly referred to Sanchez as "our guy" and the team's unquestioned starting quarterback.
"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."
Tebow said he had a "great conversation" on Wednesday with Sanchez, adding that they've been friends for several years. He said he's not here to take Sanchez's job, but to help him as a unique addition to the offense, someone who could run Tony Sparano's wildcat package — and anything else they ask him to do.