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May is typically a quiet month in NFL circles, but for the Jets, the attention surrounding Tim Tebow made life at their Florham Park facility feel like they were prepping for a playoff game. On Thursday the locker room was open to the media for the first time during the team’s voluntary offseason workouts, and more than 50 reporters, cameramen and an ESPN crew showed.
The masses weren’t there to chat about the team’s recent draft, and Tebow’s new teammates were forced to weigh in on Tebowmania.
“For one, he brings more media into the locker room — as if that’s possible,” tight end Dustin Keller told the New York Post, chuckling.
“I’m not sick of the [Tebow] questions, but it’s only May,” quarterback Mark Sanchez offered to reporters.
Sanchez and pro football’s most famous backup were asked about any brewing quarterback competition in the coming months. The incumbent starter presented his case: Tebow is the team’s No. 2, and he’ll get on the field by doing “other stuff.”
“I hope every backup quarterback wants the job of a starter,” Sanchez said. “That’s the way you have to prepare. I’ve been in those shoes in college, anticipating the game setting like I’m the starter, and then getting to the game and not playing. Fortunately for Tim, he has the ability to do other things.”
Tebow was more diplomatic, but based on his football past it’s clear he won’t settle for second fiddle. A Heisman Trophy winner at the University of Florida, he led the Denver Broncos to a wild-card playoff victory against the Pittsburgh Steelers in January.
“It’s fair to say that I always want to be my best,” Tebow said. “Push myself to the limits just as far as a quarterback, a passer, it’s learning defenses, learning offenses. I’m just trying to be the best football player and person that I can possibly be.”
Tebow did make one change since arriving to New York via trade: He renamed his dog from Bronco to Bronx. It was a tidbit that sent Twitter into a frenzy. But will he be a different player in the Big Apple? Tebow could be taking snaps in the Wildcat formation, get some special teams duty, and perhaps even play other positions on offense.
He told the throng that during the Jets workouts he’s played only quarterback, but is open to suggestions. “I always put the team first and whatever they want me to do, they know that I’ll do with all my heart,” he said.
Tebow’s unselfishness and work ethic are well documented. His Denver teammates raved about his practice habits — then in the next breath rolled their eyes when discussing the circus that follows him.
Former Broncos and current New England Patriots tight end Daniel Fells, who defended Tebow last year when asked about his off-kilter throwing style (“Hey, it got there,” he once told The Daily when discussing a wobbly completion), recently acknowledged Tebowmania can be a grind.
“The media frenzy all day every day, that can be a distraction sometimes,” Fells told NESN. “But [Tebow] is the type of person who just takes everything in stride, and he’s a truly genuine person, so he just kind of almost brushed it off a little bit. He didn’t let all of the hype get to his head.”
Receiver Santonio Holmes, a mercurial talent and poster brat for the dysfunction that dogged the team during its 8-8 season in 2011, supported both quarterbacks. By doing so, he didn’t exactly endorse Sanchez fully. This is the state of the Jets at the moment: a sometime champion of New York sports headlines.
“It’s going to be fun, man. It’s going to be competitive,” Holmes told USA Today. “I know [Sanchez and Tebow] are going to push each other to the limit.”