The surprising thing about Tebow fans
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Whether in Florida Gators or Denver Broncos jerseys or green and white T-shirts emblazoned with his name on the back, New York Jets quarterback Tim Tebow brought a legion of fans with him to MetLife Stadium for his first home game with his new team. It doesn't matter that he's the team's backup, he's the starter in the hearts and minds of his passionate following.
"Tebow Nation" comes in all ages, genders and variety of fans, both young and old. Some are drawn to him because of his brand of smash-mouth football, others due to his outspoken Christian faith, but no matter the reason why, they love Tebow. More often than not, the Tebow-supporting crowd on hand this Saturday night aren't even Jets fans and their allegiance dates back to his college career in Florida or the last two years in Denver. They couldn't care less about current Jets starter Mark Sanchez or that Tebow is the backup.
Frank Spallone of Brick, N.J., came to the game with his wife and their two children. A New York Giants fan, he came to support his niece who was part of the youth dancers who participated at halftime. But despite his allegiance to the Giants, Spallone was wearing a Broncos No. 15 jersey.
That's right, his Giants were playing and Spallone was wearing the jersey of the other team's quarterback.
"We always cheer for Tebow, that's why we bought the jerseys last year. You hear more about NFL players doing the wrong thing, he does the right thing," Spallone said.
"He's a fantastic role model, my son plays football and he's a fantastic role model."
Spallone's daughter Kailey carried a sign into the stadium, proposing to Tebow -- it was confiscated by security and thrown out. Her younger brother Ryan, who grew up a Giants fan, said he's now splitting his allegiance with the Jets "since Tebow is with them now."
The curious thing about many of the Tebow fans is that they have no ties to the Jets team he now plays on. Simply, they are there for Tebow and purely Tebow. No other player in the NFL can boast of such a purpose-driven following. It is all Tebow all the time.
It is a curious twist from many diehards of the team who are firmly entrenched in Camp Sanchez. In fact, during the first open session of training camp three weeks ago, Tebow was getting booed and heckled by many Jets fans when he missed receivers. He was the only player on the team to receive such treatment.
Saturday night saw a different reaction.