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Column: Tebowmania may soon be over, and Linsanity not too far behind
The thump-thump of helicopter blades announced Peyton Manning's arrival in Denver, prompting some curious fans to head over to team headquarters to see if they could catch a glimpse of the quarterback cast off by the Colts just a few days before.
The television helicopters may well have announced the end of Tebowmania, too, with John Elway making clear what he has hinted at before ' that Tim Tebow is not the player he sees leading the Broncos to future glory. Elway is so taken with the idea of luring Manning to Denver that he dispatched a jet to bring him to town, then spent nearly six hours showing him around the place.
No disrespect to Tebow; this is just the way business is done in the NFL. Even the fans who chanted Tebow's name all season long don't seem terribly conflicted about it all, with two of every three in a Denver Post poll saying they would like to see Manning under center for the Broncos next season.
As crazes go, Tebowmania didn't last long. A playoff win over Pittsburgh helped keep it alive, but the reality is Tebow looked just this side of awful toward the end of the season as Denver stumbled to losses in four of its last five games.
Hard to blame Elway for looking elsewhere. The prototype of an NFL quarterback in his prime, he doesn't see much of himself in the ungainly way Tebow plays the position, even if Tebow's will to win is so great it's probably the only reason the Broncos even made the playoffs.
Manning came along at a perfect time for Elway, who was boxed in by Tebow's early success and the way Denver fans took to their underdog quarterback. Questions about Manning's health aside, it's hard for anyone but the most ardent Tebow believers to argue against pursuing one of the great quarterbacks of our time.
Whether Elway can convince Manning that Denver is the best place to display his talents is another matter. There are other suitors, though the field was narrowed Friday when the Jets and Redskins made quarterback moves of their own that took them out of the Manning chase.
Still, Elway made it clear that Tebow Time is running out in Denver. As compelling as it was, it was never destined to last long, because crazes never do.
The same can be said about Linsanity. That's still the semi-official title, though the only thing Linsane about the New York Knicks lately is their inability to figure out a way to win when Jeremy Lin is not surrounded by a bunch of cast-offs.
A month after Lin exploded in the public consciousness, the Knicks are a team in turmoil. They've lost four straight, Carmelo Anthony can't figure out where he fits in, and coach Mike D'Antoni was heard muttering this week about his team's inability to score.
Like Tebow, Lin still draws cheers every time he makes a play. That was true on Friday night in Milwaukee, where even fans of the home team got excited about a 20-point, 13-assist performance that broke him out of a mini slump.
Unfortunately, the Knicks with Anthony and Amare Stoudemire aren't the same Knicks as the ragtag bunch Lin took over and began leading to improbable wins. There are chemistry issues with what should be a much-improved lineup, and now that opposing teams are paying special attention to Lin his path to the basket gets more crowded every time he takes the court.
Unlike the Broncos with Tebow, though, no one is even suggesting replacing Lin. Until the Knicks hit the wall with losses in five of their last six games, his play had revitalized the franchise and made Madison Square Garden a happening place to be once again.
Linsanity may have a short shelf life as a craze, but Lin figures to be running the Knicks offense for quite some time. He may even outlast D'Antoni, who turned to Lin in desperation when nothing was working for the Knicks and whose job likely will be in jeopardy if he can't find a way to get them playing as a team again.
While both crazes may be subsiding, there's a lot to like about Linsanity and Tebowmania. At the center of both are humble and likeable players who preach team first and get those around them to play better. In an era of selfish and spoiled athletes, they are refreshing examples of what can be right about sports.
As crazes usually are, they were a lot of fun while they lasted.
Tim Dahlberg is a national sports columnist for The Associated Press. Write to him at tdahlberg(at)ap.org or follow at http://twitter.com/timdahlberg