After facing criticism from an ESPN analyst earlier this week, Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow said he will use quotes from his doubters as motivation as he tries to win the starting quarterback job from Kyle Orton, the Denver Post reported Friday.
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The storm surrounding Tebow started Wednesday when ESPN NFL analyst Merril Hoge tweeted after watching Broncos game film that it would be "embarrassing to think the Broncos could win with Tebow."
Hoge said the 2007 Heisman Trophy winner lacks the accuracy to be a successful quarterback in the league, saying "you must poses (sic) a skill set to play!"
For Tebow, though, the criticism is serving as motivation.
"I’ll always use the negativity as more motivation to work even harder and become even stronger," Tebow told the paper.
"I’m trying to insulate myself from what people in the media are saying, but I’ve seen some of it, and it hurts because it’s coming from people who haven’t seen me practice, haven’t seen me play, haven’t seen what I can do," he said. "I did an interview the other day with someone on the NFL Network who said last year I’d never played a down in the NFL. He was wrong.
"Others who say I won’t make it are wrong. They don’t know what I’m capable of and what’s inside me. My family and my friends have been bothered by what’s gone on, and I tell them to pay no attention to it. I’m relying as always on my faith."
Tebow, who will turn 24 this month, tweeted back to Hoge Wednesday night, saying "Hey Merril … ‘ppreciate that.," prompting Hoge to respond Thursday with, "Good luck this season and prove me wrong."
Hoge’s critique of Tebow even riled up Miami Heat star LeBron James, who has been no stranger to reporters’ negative opinions ever since he left the Cleveland Cavaliers.
"Guys get on that TV and act like they was all WORLD when they played. How bout encouraging him and wishing him the best instead of hating!!" James said on Twitter about Hoge’s comments. "Tim Tebow will succeed in the NFL. He’s a hard worker, a student of the game, a natural born leader and most of all a WINNER! It takes time and he’ll be nice."
Tebow played sparingly in his rookie season until he was named the starting quarterback for the Broncos’ final three games. He led a 24-23 comeback victory over Houston in Week 16, but overall completed 50 percent of his passes and ended the season with a passer rating of 82.1.
After the lockout the Broncos were reportedly talking with the Miami Dolphins about trading Orton. But earlier this week the NFL Network reported that Orton would not be dealt and had been named the starter.
Tebow denied that was the case to the Denver Post, saying head coach John Fox told him the job is up for grabs.
"Coach (John) Fox told us that there is open competition. Who knows what still might happen? I feel I will have the chances in camp and in the preseason games to prove myself," said Tebow, a two-time national champion at the University of Florida.
Orton, who holds a 32-30 record as a starter in his career, started 13 games for Denver last season, throwing for 3,653 yards, 20 touchdowns and nine interceptions. He missed the final three games due to injury.