Church groups are organizing a mass pilgrimage to watch Tim Tebow at a NY Jets summer training camp. The huge crowds expected at the State University of New York at Cortland are the latest testament to the allure of Tebow, who is renowned for drawing large audiences of Evangelical Christians.
Jim Dempsey of the Cortland County Convention and Visitors Bureau told the New York Daily News:
“A couple months ago, I got a call from a church group, then another and I thought it was interesting, not groups we normally get calls from. Right now, we have no way of knowing how many more groups will come because of Tim Tebow. But we expect a lot.”
While Tebow may be a second-stringer in football terms (he is set to play back-up to Mark Sanchez when the Jets begin their 2012-13 campaign against the Bills on September 9), his status as a vocal proponent of his faith and as the author of best-selling memoir Through My Eyes will ensure no other Jets player will draw the same level of attention.
Tebow regularly discusses his faith in interviews, has preached to crowds of thousands and is heavily involved in the evangelical Christian community. Over Easter, a 15,000-strong audience in Texas heard Tebow preach about being a Christian role model.
Speaking about the upcoming pilgrimage, George Seibel, the owner of the Dark Horse Tavern on Main St, said:
“It’s a group we have not really noticed coming here before. We really don’t know what to expect, but we are preparing for it to be big.”
However, it seems Tebow will be at the training camp on strictly business terms. Kitty Jones, owner of the Spirit Life Christian bookstore, revealed her efforts to get the quarter-back to a book signing failed:
“They said he is not doing any more signings this year. I wish he would change his mind. I mean he is going to be here for a month.”