- Last Updated: 7:04 AM, July 26, 2012
- Posted: 2:03 AM, July 26, 2012
CORTLAND, N.Y. — The Cortland Zoo — also known as the No-Ring Circus — is the perfect place to visit during your summer vacation.
The main attraction, of course, will be wearing No. 15 for the New York Jets. He will be hard to miss. He will be the 250-pound hunk of muscle with the magnetic smile who doesn’t look like a quarterback or throw like a quarterback. His name is Tim Tebow, and you may have heard that he can’t hit the broad side of the Vatican. But he will have an enormous following, and all eyes will be on him, even when he lines up to protect the punter. But he wouldn’t be here if he didn’t think he had a prayer of winning the starting quarterback job. You gawkers who heckle him every time he throws a ball that lands at a receiver’s feet, go right ahead. You won’t bother him at all. Don’t be surprised if you see him around town in one of the nearby churches.
It takes Zoo to tango, and wherever you see Tebow, you will see Mark Sanchez. He has the job Tebow wants, and will fight to hold on to it because he loves it. He will be wearing the eye of the tiger because he has plenty to prove after falling down last season, and if he looks bigger and stronger than you remember, that’s because he is.
He will play nice with Tebow, and with Santonio Holmes, No. 10, and say all the right things, and try hard not to be looking over his shoulder, not now, not yet, not here, because he doesn’t want the players or coaches or media to see him sweat at a time when his job will not be threatened. Not now, not here, not yet, anyway. Don’t be surprised if you see him around town picking up Mexican food for the quarterbacks.
You may not recognize the skinny man with the whistle, but that’s Rex Ryan, the coach. No longer does he look as if he just swallowed Kris Jenkins whole. He’s Sexy Rexy now. He will be smiling a lot, especially when he’s cutting up with his defensive favorites, and if his Mexican food intake is down, there’s always the chance he will put his foot in his mouth. Before he lost all that weight, he lost the team, so he will be looking to make sure Holmes and Sanchez play nice, and Holmes and Brandon Moore play nice, and Holmes and Wayne Hunter play nice.
Holmes will be the one with most of the swagger, the one catching most of the passes from the quarterbacks. He also may be the one throwing his arms up in the air when the quarterback misses him. He may also be the one lecturing the media on his Theory of Negativity, which is not to be confused with Einstein’s Theory of Relativity. He can be happy one minute, scowling and pouting the next. Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Holmes.
Darrelle Revis, the bearded one, was nowhere to be found the last time the Jets were here. He will be wearing No. 24 and a smile through clenched teeth, in all likelihood. He will not be a happy camper because he maintains the organization promised to continue to make him the highest-paid cornerback in the NFL. You either will find him intercepting passes at will or, in the event that he should suddenly feel a twinge in his hamstring (wink, wink), riding an exercise bike on the sidelines, or maybe even ordering the blue plate special at the Roscoe Diner.
You may hear Tony Sparano, the new offensive coordinator and Wildcat originator, before you see him. He will be the gum-chewing squatty-body filling the summer air with exhortations and exclamations and protestations as he roams from one position group to the next.
The gruff figure barking at everyone in his path is Mike Westhoff, the best special teams coach in the business who is retiring after the season.
Bart Scott, No. 57, is another one who has slimmed down, but visitors with cameras are cautioned not to get too close because he might decide he “can’t wait” to flip you the bird right in the center of the Finger Lakes region.
The hulking new tight end’s name is Hayden Smith. He’s the 6-foot-7, 240-pound Australian rugby star sure to be addressing everyone as “mate” and trying to figure out what it is he’s gotten into here.
Nick Mangold, the dry-witted center, you may see around town at a local sports bar cheering on his kid sister Holley, the Olympic weightlifter.
Whenever you see Antonio Cromartie away from the field, you likely will see little children. Some of them may even belong to him.
The man wearing either the white safari hat or Jets cap will be Woody Johnson, the fan-friendly owner who probably has a PSL brochure handy. If you’re interested.
The man standing alongside Johnson will be general manager Mike Tannenbaum, who was last seen by spectators here falling on his rump backpedaling to catch a punt, much to Ryan’s delight. The quickest way to dampen Tannenbaum’s mood — or the owner’s mood — will be by shouting, “Pay Revis!”
The Jets begin arriving Thursday and begin practice Friday. The Cortland Zoo — also known as the No-Ring Circus — will be open to the public beginning Saturday. Admission is free. Warning: Don’t feed the Jets.