TIM TEBOW GOT his first New York close-up yesterday.
And he handled it all with the same cool approach — smiling, polite, composed — that has won over so many football fans around the country.
Speaking at news conference in the Jets’ field house, because the media crush so great the session couldn’t be held in the team’s normal press room, the headline-grabbing New York backup QB went out of his way to play down any conflict between himself and starter Mark Sanchez.
“Me and Mark have a great relationship,” Tebow said. “We’ve been friends the past three years and have already texted back and forth. We are going to have a great working relationship and I think we’ll have a lot of fun together.”
Acquired last Wednesday from Denver, the exciting but flawed quarterback is coming off a season of incredible comebacks with the Broncos, taking them from a 1-4 record to the playoffs. The Jets are hoping he has more surprises left in him.
“Hopefully, by me being here, we can be a little bit better,” Tebow said, decked out in a gray suit and a light green tie. “I think I can add something, and that’s my hope and prayer.”
Tebow’s new club threw him a quick challenge on Monday, sending him out alone to take questions at what was probably the biggest news conference ever for a second-string NFL player. Not a problem. Tebow spoke in a measured, upbeat tone for more than half an hour.
“I have bosses, too, and they wanted me to stand up here and talk to you all,” Tebow explained, grinning, “so I can blame them.”
Coach Rex Ryan, general manager Mike Tannenbaum and owner Woody Johnson were not in the building. They were down at the NFL meetings in Palm Beach far away from the wild scene at the team’s headquarters with more than 200 members of the media. There were no team-mates there, either, although Tebow said he has spoken with several of them already.
“Ultimately, I’m just going to be myself and just have fun with it,” he said.
Jets fans have been decidedly mixed on the trade, with many wondering why the team would add a monster distraction to a locker room that had serious issues last season and was partly to blame for an 8-8 finish. Sanchez’s leadership and confidence were questioned by some players, speaking anonymously in newspapers reports, and the addition of Tebow could cut into the starting quarterback’s ability to regain the room.
“I don’t really pay too much attention to it,” Tebow said, joking that Sanchez warned him about handling the media. The fact is, whether anyone likes it or not, Tebow is part the New York sports scene. Now the Jets must figure out how to make it a winning addition.
“There’s a lot of pros here,” Tebow said, “and not a lot of cons.”