Arriving to the tabloid greeting of “Amen!,” ex-Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow yesterday became the New York Jets’ newest God-fearing backup QB. He replaces (numerically, at least) aging former Washington Husky and prominent Christian athlete Mark Brunell who, having just completed a court-approved bankruptcy that forced him to sell off his Rose Bowl rings, is still praying he can find a job somewhere in pro football.Tebow will provide the challenge that Brunell didn’t to Jets’ starter Mark Sanchez, creating a situation somewhat similar to that of the Seattle Seahawks, where former Green Bay Packers’ backup Matt Flynn has been brought in to compete with last year’s starter Tarvaris Jackson, now that his tepid backup Charlie Whitehurst has also departed (landing in San Diego).The Great Quarterback Shuffle began of course when Denver signed ex-Colts great Peyton Manning for roughly $96 million over five years ($18 million guaranteed the first year, less thereafter due to his questionable neck injury). That made Tebow expendable, and too expensive to keep around as a backup. Despite the NY headlines, Tebow’s deal with the Jets isn’t exactly spectacular – under $10 million for five years (Flynn’s pact with the Hawks is good for up to $26 million, $10 million guaranteed, for three, even though his experience is mostly as a backup to the Packers’ All-Pro QB Aaron Rodgers). It being New York, there’s no shortage of mouthing off about the arrival of Tebowmania. “On the field, [the Jets] are a three-ring circus,” said WFAN’s Mike Frances, while ex-Jets great Joe Namath observed, “I don’t think they know what they’re doing over there right now.”
Well, “Every quarterback has a backup,” Jets GM Mike Tannenbaum said. “We just changed who ours is.”It was Tannenbaum who announced earlier this year – after ex-Husky Brunell said he hoped to return to New York – that he wanted to “improve the depth” at QB, indicating Brunell’s two-decade NFL career was over, at least with the Jets.Brunell was used mostly as a scout-team quarterback and a kick holder, though he played in two games in 2010 and threw two TD passes as a backup to Sanchez, who was memorably caught on camera during one game wiping a booger on Brunell’s jersey. The onetime Rose Bowl star was paid $960,000 last season and critics regularly complained he was no real threat – or challenge – to the sometimes underperforming Sanchez. In January, Brunell said that, should the Jets not bring him back, “I would certainly welcome another opportunity” anywhere. But none has yet materialized. On his Twitter feed, several fans asked what his plans are, but he hasn’t responded. In his bankruptcy filings, Brunell said he had a job awaiting him as a $5,000-a-month entry-level salesman specializing in selling equipment used in orthopedic surgery – a natural field, perhaps, for a 42-year-old ex-quarterback.