(Photo: Reuters/Adam Fenster)
Speculation about how the N.Y. Jets will use Tim Tebow on the field was put on temporary hold at the end of the team's first open practice Saturday – the former Bronco took his shirt off in the rain.
Jets beat reporter Lisa Zimmerman from CBSSports.com filed a sports news brief in which she wrote: "Jets QB Mark Sanchez remained sharp during practice amid a rain storm on Saturday and the cheers he received from fans showed they were clearly behind him.
"However, QB Tim Tebow still managed to be the story of the day by leaving the practice field well after the rest of his teammates ... running shirtless in the downpour," Zimmerman explained. "Tebow ran through the horde of media who were trying desperately to stay dry under two small tents.
"Why he took his shirt off remains unclear," she wrote.
Photos and a video of the "incident" taken by William Perlman of The Star-Ledger almost immediately spread throughout the Internet. Discussions on the Web about how the Jets will use Tebow, whether it be in a Wildcat or red zone offense, or special teams, were hard to find in regards to the practice session on Saturday.
Jets coach Rex Ryan appeared to be at a loss for words when he was asked at a post-practice press conference about Tebow's shirtless jog towards the locker room at the SUNY Cortland facility.
"I'm not quite there yet," he said with a somewhat uncomfortable chuckle.
Also unclear from media reports is how many fans in attendance booed Tebow's miscues during practice. Some observers reported the number of hecklers to be a "few spectators," while others wrote "the crowd" had a mixed reaction.
Tebow finished 3-of-8 for passing and was sacked once during the team's second practice (first open to the public and media), The Star-Ledger reported. "It was a slippery and wet practice in which the receivers struggled to hold onto the ball," wrote Jenny Ventras.
Ryan made a quip about the hecklers when asked during the press conference if he heard the boos. "I thought it was some of the defensive guys. No, I'm just kidding,'' he said.
While some Tebow supporters were visible in the crowd, wearing brand new Tebow replica jerseys, Newsday.com reported that one fan made a "silent statement" with a shirt that read, "Mark 6:15. Thou Shalt Have Only One Quarterback.''
Newsday gave an update on "the pilgrimage to Cortland," by Tebow fans seemingly more interested in following the quarterback than the Jets.
"I think he gives people a reason to believe,'' Joannie Bedient of Delhi, N.Y., who wore a Tebow shirt, told Newsday.
"My son, who's 14, used to have a Michael Vick shirt. Once Vick got in trouble, I said, 'No more.' I do believe these athletes are role models. I think Tebow, besides his religion, sets a wonderful example for kids,'' said Bedient.
Rebecca Traver of Binghamton, who wore a replica Tebow jersey from his college days, told Newsday that she is a Cowboys fan who is currently cheering for Tebow. "He was a good college quarterback,'' she said, "and I like his beliefs and I like that he's not afraid to show his beliefs.''
Tebow and Sanchez are intent on not letting the fishbowl atmosphere at the Jets' training camp affect their friendship, according to USA Today Sports.
"It is a strong relationship and it is genuine and we know we have to have a great relationship because of the scrutiny and everybody watching," he said. "We just have to handle this pretty well … I know regardless if we're on the same team or opposing teams, we're going to be friends."