Tim Tebow uncomfortable with getting forced front and center by Jets bosses
Wearing a gray suit and a Jet-green tie, Tim Tebow stared into a long row of television cameras that broadcast his every word across the country and, perhaps more importantly, into the homes of his New York Jets teammates.
And it was obvious he sensed the danger in the moment.
He’s the Jets’ new backup quarterback and never before has someone with such a job description been trotted out for this type of “media availability.”
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There were all those television cameras, even more still photographers, live radio feeds and a throng of sports journalists. The event was so big the Jets moved it from the traditional interview room to their indoor practice field, where space wouldn’t be an issue.
This was over the top, even by Tebowmania standards – a situation Tebow himself has eyed with a bit of concern.
Was this really necessary?
“The reasons I’m doing this today is I have bosses too, and they wanted me to stand up here today and say a few words,” Tebow said. “So I can blame it on [them].”
Well, he’s going to try. That comment was one of two tweaks Tebow hit his new “bosses” with for staging this event at all. Hey, don’t blame me, it wasn’t my idea.
There were a couple of mentions – aggressive marketing techniques by some of his sponsors – for which he shouldn’t be held responsible, either. A backup quarterback has also never had a giant Jockey billboard placed above the Lincoln Tunnel, either.
“Hopefully they know I had nothing to do with that,” he said of other Jets players. “I don’t think that’ll have any effect to people in the locker room.”
It was all directed at his new teammates, who no doubt were sitting across the country watching this scene play out with rolling eyes, growing doubt or even pure jealousy.
Tebow knows the issue. He’s got that aw-shucks demeanor but he isn’t stupid. He spent 35 minutes saying the right thing over and over and over. He’s excited. He’s blessed. He’s honored to be a Jet. He just wants to “make the team a little bit better.”
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“Just be a good teammate,” he said over and over.
The words help. However, the fact they were even being said remains an issue.
Tebow is polished in front of the media but he’s at his best in one-on-one environments. He’s a worker. He’s a winner. He’s a guy that wants to like and be liked. If he’s to be believed, he leads the NFL in “great relationships.”
He prides himself on trying to show up to work first and to leave last. For all his ability to draw in the media, he tries to limit it mostly to just one mid-week media session and then postgame responsibilities. For all the attention his faith gets, he doesn’t work a locker room trying to proselytize.
“I think the best way to share the gospel is acting it,” Tebow said Monday. “Let them know how you are as a person.”
That’s how he attempts to handle everything – showing not saying. He never mentioned religion or God on Monday until asked directly by the media.
Much is made of his squeaky-clean lifestyle, but whether at the University of Florida or the Denver Broncos, he’s also connected well and found great support with teammates who lived completely different ways.
Tebow has faith in his ability to get along with anyone once he gets the chance.
And that’s the heart of the issue with this media availability: He desperately wants to get started and show his teammates what he’s about, and what he’s about isn’t staging a big news conference.
He acknowledged Monday that he preferred the Broncos trade him to the Jets rather than his hometown Jacksonville Jaguars because of his comfort with New York head coach Rex Ryan and offensive coordinator Tony Sparano.
Tebow was, as always, gracious and complimentary of everyone in Denver, but it was clear he wants to be wanted and he believes Ryan and Sparano think he can be a player.
“Having football coaches that believed in you and having football coaches that saw [potential] in you,” said Tebow, who helped guide the Broncos to the divisional round of the playoffs last season.
Too much is never a good thing though. He later told ESPN, “There definitely was a lot of people [here] and a lot of hype and I’m not sure why.”
Oh, he’s sure of why. He just doesn’t want his teammates thinking he isn’t aware of the absurdity of it all.
The Jets would’ve been better served saving Tebow for the first day of an organized team activity, letting a scrum develop around him rather than trotting him out on a slow news day. They should’ve treated him like the backup he is.
Tebow said as much. The guy who never criticizes anybody took his small, yet telling shots at the Jets.
“It’s my job to come in here and earn respect by how I work,” he said. “I can’t control this press conference … You can blame the guys upstairs.”
Tim Tebow was smart enough to bash management, smart enough to know that usually does the trick.
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