Tebow the Jet: Celebrity backup meets media

By Dennis Waszak Jr.

Associated Press

Published: Monday, March 26 2012 1:16 p.m. MDT

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. — Tim Tebow got his first New York close-up Monday.

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, Fla., far away from the wild scene at the team's headquarters with more than 200 members of the media. There were no teammates 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.

While Ryan and Tannenbaum insist Sanchez is entrenched as the first-string quarterback, Tebow will also see plenty of time on the field and certainly much more of the spotlight.

Ryan suggested on Sunday that Tebow could be used at a position other than quarterback. He kept referring to Tebow as a "football player," his ability not limited to QB.

"I don't see Tim just holding a clipboard," Ryan told a group of reporters while in Florida for a meeting of NFL team owners. "He's going to be playing for us. There is no doubt."

Ryan added: "There won't be a better wildcat quarterback in the game. Is that his only role? I don't believe that. We'll see."

Tebow said first and foremost he's a quarterback, and that's his hope and dream, but "however I can help the team, I am open to it."

The newest Jet has already helped his team get some attention. While the club claims the trade for Tebow was a football-related move, it was also marketing gold as the polarizing QB has occupied the back — and, in some cases, the front — pages of the New York-area tabloids. And that's just weeks after the Giants won their second Super Bowl in four years.

Legions of fans have been snatching up Tebow's green and white No. 15 jersey. The famed Carnegie Deli in Manhattan already has a sandwich named after him, and Jockey has a digital billboard ad outside the Lincoln Tunnel — on the New Jersey side — with the underwear company saying it supports "Tebow & New York."

He laughed when someone asked if the perception was correct that the Jets' reasons for signing him were more about things that had nothing to do with football.

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