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Thursday, July 07, 2022

NEW YORK - With Tim Tebow all but a sure a thing to win the Heisman last night, I focused my anticipation on what would happen after he lifted the 25-pound bronze statue.

The head-scratching layout of the ceremony forced Tebow to walk about half a block across Broadway in the heart of Times Square to get to his press conference after ESPN's coverage ended.

So, I followed Tebow.

I waited outside in freezing temperatures just to see the reaction he would get.

We all know he is a hero in Florida and a celebrity in the Southeast, but how would New Yorkers take him in?

Surrounded by an entourage of police, coaches, reporters, autograph hounds and even Florida Athletic Director Jeremy Foley, Tebow made his way from the Nokia Theater to the Hard Rock Café.

Traffic was halted on one lane of Broadway for a few seconds as Tebow avoided the packed New York sidewalk.

The screams started when Tebow emerged from behind a car.

Cell phone cameras flashed, nearly blinding me.

One woman yelled "Oh my God! Tebow!" and possibly fainted shortly thereafter, though I couldn't see much of the crowd.

Once he entered the Hard Rock, Gator Nation made its presence known.

Fans started chanting "It's great to be a Florida Gator!" as he walked into a gift shop to a procession of Gator Chomps and applause.

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Most of the non-Gator fans likely knew the Heisman Trophy ceremony was taking place and must have known something was up when they saw one man surrounded by a group of police.

But I would love to know how many people would recognize Tebow if he walked down that same stretch Sunday morning, alone in plain clothes.

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