FLORHAM PARK, N.J. — And now, the New York Jets are left with a mess.
With their Monday afternoon introduction of Tim Tebow, the Jets now have a quarterback controversy on their hands just two weeks after giving incumbent starter Mark Sanchez a five-year contract extension which included over $24 million in guaranteed money. Last Wednesday night after reaching a deal with the Denver Broncos to acquire Tebow, Jets general manager Mike Tannenbaum said that his newest acquisition was coming in to be the team's backup quarterback.
"Mark Sanchez is, has been and will be our starting quarterback," Tannenbaum said. "We're adding Tim to be our backup quarterback and to play in roles and packages as coach [Rex] Ryan and [offensive coordinator Tony] Sparano see fit. Tim is comfortable with that."
But not so fast -- someone didn't tell that to Tebow.
While Tebow spoke about his friendship with Sanchez and said that "working together we'll be able to encourage one another and be stronger together than we would be apart," it was clear that he won't be content carrying a clipboard on the sidelines. Tebow was clear that he wants to be a good teammate and support Sanchez, whom he has been friends with for several years, but he also wants to be more than just an understudy.
"I haven't had time to spend with coach Ryan and I think a lot of it has to do with how well it works, how it does in practice. Obviously you're not going to put something out there that's not executing, not running well so I think it really matters how well we do," Tebow said.
"My goal is to go out there and try and execute and try to do as well as I possibly can. Improve every single day and really get comfortable with my role and expand my role by going out there and competing well."
Tebow was dressed in a grey suit with a green tie, answered questions from the media for just over 32 minutes, the majority of them focused on his role with the team and his transition to New York. He was asked about his faith, being a "gimmick," and if he's willing to switch positions. Even Pat Robertson's name was bandied about.
But more than anything, the focus settled on Tebow's battle for the starting position with Sanchez, who is set to enter his fourth year in the league after an 8-8 season for the Jets where he regressed in many categories.
The two competing quarterbacks first met at the ESPYs several years ago and struck up the foundation of their friendship. Then they met at the Super Bowl a year later during a fan event and it got even stronger.
Tebow spoke glowingly about the Jets team he beat last season in Week 11 behind his late-game touchdown drive. He also said that Sanchez won't be affected by his presence, especially given the rocky relationship in the Jets locker room last season.
He may have been the only one in a fieldhouse full of over 200 people who actually believed what he was saying.
"I think Mark is very secure as a football player, as a person in who he is," Tebow said.
"I don't think he's going to let outsiders affect how he goes about his preparation and how he plays, and I'm excited about my role here too and my opportunity to compete. I think working together we'll be able to encourage one another and be stronger together than we would be apart."
Follow Kristian R. Dyer on Twitter @KristianRDyer
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