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Cortland is Tebow Town for a few weeks this summer

By Dennis Waszak Jr.

Associated Press

Published: Monday, Aug. 6 2012 9:45 a.m. MDT

A mile away in downtown Cortland, store fronts are decorated in Jets green and white, with signs welcoming the players, coaches and fans. At Bernard's Custom Logo and Trophy Shop, a full window display is dedicated to Tebow with a huge picture of the quarterback and the words "TEBOWMANIA!" blaring out at everyone walking by. There are also at least a half-dozen different T-shirts dedicated to Tebow that customers can choose from — a marketing touchdown for Steve Wineberg, president of Bernard's.

"He saw an opportunity there and ran with it, and I think he's glad he did," Dempsey said. "For him, it's been Christmas in August, literally, with the sales from that promotion he's done there."

Across the street, Hairy Tony's restaurant greets diners with a huge fierce-looking blowup of the Jets player. Owner Tony Caruso knew this summer might be a little different when he heard the Jets acquired Tebow from Denver in March.

"It wasn't a unique reaction, that's for sure," Caruso said. "We were like, 'It's going to be a big circus here.' And, I have to say, yes, Tebow being here has had an effect. We're having a steady, strong year. It's been predictable."

George Seibel, owner of the Dark Horse Tavern next door to Hairy Tony's, also said business has been terrific with Tebow in town. He even heard from a niece in North Carolina, who wanted a favor.

"She asked me that if I see Tebow, if I can get her his autograph," Seibel said, laughing. "And she doesn't even care about football."

Fans are allowed to watch most of the Jets' practices, and other than a handful of hecklers who mocked Tebow for his penchant for holding onto the ball too long, there have been mostly big cheers for him. Especially when he takes off and runs with the football — something the Jets will surely take advantage of this season.

Tebow is a rock star, and the people of Cortland can't get enough.

"He's doing really well with it and they are, for the most part, great people," said Sanchez, who compared the attention Tebow gets to a Grateful Dead concert. "They come out and support us and him, so it has been fun for all of us."

And, especially, for the town of Cortland.

"It's so great," Tebow said with a huge smile. "You have a lot of great, passionate fans out here."

Follow Dennis Waszak on Twitter: http://twitter.com/DWAZ73 Online: http://bigstory.ap.org/NFL-Pro32 and http://twitter.com/AP_NFL

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