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Dolphins roll out red carpet for Tebow on 'Gator Day'

  • By Jeff Darlington NFL.com
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Three months ago, when many expected Tim Tebow to be the Broncos' starting quarterback job before Kyle Orton's play in training camp dictated otherwise, the business side of the Dolphins' organization had an idea.

They'd honor the University of Florida -- located 325 miles north of Sun Life Stadium -- on the day Tebow's Broncos were scheduled to play Miami on Oct. 23. But nobody could have imagined the drama that would unfold since.

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As it turns out, Tebow will make his first start on that day, resulting in what could be as dramatic a game as anyone could expect from two teams with losing records.

If the Dolphins' business side has its way, Tebow's faithful will scoop up tickets, which have been packaged as part of a Gator Day experience for $115 per person, as they head to Sun Life Stadium to watch their old quarterback play. They'll dress in the Gators' orange and blue (which happen to be the Broncos' colors), and they'll cheer for Tebow (who will be trying to defeat the Dolphins). And they'll do all of this in the same venue where the Miami Hurricanes play their homes games.

Aw-kward.

The Dolphins, who have struggled to sell out games, view this as an opportunity to unload thousands of tickets to South Florida's base of Florida alumni.

Dolphins' Gator Day Experience
For $115 each, this is what fans will get, according to the team's website:
» A ticket
» A 2-hour pregame celebration with Dolphins/UF alumni and Dolphins cheerleaders
» All you can eat and all you can drink (beer, wine, water, soda)
» Post-game photo op with UF alumni players and current NFL player.

True, two other NFL teams (the Bucs and the Jaguars) play their home games closer to the University of Florida than the Dolphins do. True, the University of Miami's campus is a 30-minute drive down Interstate 95. But the Hurricanes weren't interested in partaking in a similar day of honor when the Dolphins' organization reached out to them -- so the team instead continued to move forward with the Gator Day event.

Whether it will be a success is a matter of how you'd define it. In terms of ticket sales, the timing of Tebow's ascent couldn't be much better. In terms of the current state of the Dolphins' organization, it couldn't be much worse.

Four Gators -- Tebow, Derrick Harvey, Marcus Thomas and Mike Pouncey -- will be a part of the Dolphins' celebration. All but Pouncey play for the opposing team. Alas, it looks like Tebow won't have to worry about facing a raucous crowd on the road for his much anticipated 2011 debut as the Broncos' starter.

Instead, he'll play in a place that might support him nearly as much as crowds in Denver or Gainesville. So Gators fans, get out your No. 15 jerseys. It might just be Tebow Time. In Denver. And in Miami. However strange it might seem.

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