Less than 24 hours after ESPN's announcement that NFL quarterback Tim Tebow has joined the cable brand with a big role on the upcoming SEC Network, the free agent hopped on the line with reporters to discuss his new job and his future in football.
"I don't have any regrets," said Tebow. "Every time I stepped on the field, I gave everything everything I had. And I'm going to approach my role on ESPN the same way."
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Aggressively cordial throughout the discussion, Tebow emphasized that he is continuing to pursue a career in the league but this is also the start of a new career. Without a team since being let go by the New England Patriots before the start of the 2013 season, he says he's been training five days a week throughout negotiations with ESPN. "I will continue to push myself to become better every single day," he said. "If I get the opportunity to continue to play quarterback in the NFL, I'll take it."
Tebow, joined by ESPN College Networks' SVP of programming Justin Connolly and VP of production Stephanie Druley, explained that the network's willingness to let him pursue other opportunities was paramount in his decision.
"I've had a great relationship with Mr. Skipper for a while," he said, referring to ESPN president John Skipper. "They didn't want to take that away from me, they wanted to make me a part of the family."
Being part of the family, the executives echoed, means taking Tebow for who he is: a rather polarizing player who's best known for his friendly demeanor and evangelical approach to discussing his Christian faith.
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"We acknowledge and understand that Tim's faith is a big part of who he is," said Connolly. "It's part of what makes him special. At the same time, we hired him for his football opinions and his experience. It's a piece of continuing dialogue between ESPN and Tim, but the reality is that we hired him on his ability to breakdown players and games -- and that's what the fans will expect and what the focus of the relationship will be."
As for concerns that Tebow may be too nice to properly comment on college games, which he will start doing with the Jan. 6 BCS Championship Game, the trio seemed to think it would just make for a different kind of analysis. "Tim is a very nice person, as we all know, but he's also a football junkie," said Druley. "He breathes and eats the game. That's what you look for in an analyst."
"As someone who's positive, I'd love to continue to be someone who is positive," Tebow added. "I'd also like to be objective. I've never had a hard time saying what I believe."