Mark Lennihan, Associated Press
FLORHAM PARK, N.J. — The message was the same from the New York Jets' two quarterbacks: We can do this.
And, not only that. Both Mark Sanchez and Tim Tebow think they're going to have lots of fun along the way.
A brewing quarterback controversy? Not if you ask them.
"I think we'll have a great working relationship," Tebow told the sea of reporters at his introductory news conference Monday. "We talked about that, just supporting one another in our roles. I'm excited about that opportunity. I think we'll have a great relationship and hopefully we'll be able to thrive together."
Sanchez, meanwhile, was nowhere near the Jets' packed practice facility. He was home in California — and didn't even watch Tebow smile his way through his first New York close-up.
"I heard he did a pretty good job," Sanchez said on a conference call five hours later. "How did he do?"
Well, Tebow handled himself just fine in the spotlight, a situation Sanchez has been accustomed to during his first three NFL seasons.
"As the quarterback of the Jets, I'm getting wins for this team," Sanchez said. "That's my primary focus. If Tim is going to help us win, I'm excited about that."
They've known each other for a few years, and Sanchez even hosted Tebow at the University of Southern California on a recruiting trip.
"He's a very classy person with a lot of integrity," Tebow said. "He's also fun to hang around. I think our quarterback room will be a lot of fun."
Sanchez was equally as complimentary, dishing out the praise for his celebrity backup.
"He's such a good guy, people don't want to believe it," Sanchez said. "There's no such thing as that good of a guy, but he is. He's a great guy, a great competitor, and he's going to make a great teammate."
Yep, both quarterbacks said all the right things about themselves, each other and the goal they share.
"I would give my whole heart to be the best Jet I possibly can be," Tebow said, "and help this team win football games."
Added Sanchez: "Our team goal is what's most important, and that's winning."
Sure, it all sounds good, but is it realistic?
Consider that Tebow is a confident and polished rock star who has been a winner on the field. Oh, and he walks in as the Jets' most popular player, thanks to a huge contingent of fans who have followed him from the University of Florida to the Denver Broncos and now to New York.
"I really don't feel like it will be too much of a distraction because I honestly will try not to pay too much attention to it," Tebow said. "The reason we're doing this today is because I have bosses, too, and they wanted me to stand up and talk to all of you. I can blame it on them because they made me do it."
He laughed a few times, grinned throughout and went out of his way to dismiss any speculation that this could be one potential sticky situation. But make no mistake: Tebow is a competitor whose desire is to be a starting quarterback in the NFL. His shortcomings are well-documented with his flawed mechanics, questionable decision-making and 46.5 percent completion rate last season. Tebow also has a resume filled with stirring comeback victories and a playoff win — all last season with the Broncos.
The game plan — at least for now — is to have Tebow serve as the backup to Sanchez, who coach Rex Ryan and general manager Mike Tannenbaum insist is the unquestioned starter. Tebow is also going to have plenty of playing time, in all kinds of roles. And, if that comes from under center, that sounds good to him.
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