The Jets held a press conference Monday introducing Tim Tebow to the New York media, but it just as easily could have been the Jaguars welcoming Tebow home to Jacksonville — had that been where the quarterback wished to play.
Tebow on Monday confirmed reports that the Broncos’ decision to trade him to the Jets was made at his behest, and said that the choice to spurn his hometown Jaguars for the Big Apple was ultimately his.
“They had all the power but they listened to me and what I had to say, and that was very gracious of them because they didn’t have to do that, and they could have just done whatever,” Tebow said. “I told them I would love to be a Jet.”
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The choice to let Tebow choose his own adventure wasn’t always in the third-year signal caller’s hands, however.
Originally, the Broncos had traded him to the Jets without consulting him about the deal. A short time after the deal was reported, though, Tebow learned that a squabble over a $5 million payment in his contract had held up the deal, opening up the bidding for other suitors, including the Jaguars.
“[The Broncos] said, ‘Well, we have a few teams that are interested with similar deals’ and were very gracious to ask me what I thought,” Tebow said. “So I talked to [Broncos coach John Fox] very honestly about it, and I told him I would love to be a Jet and that the Jaguars are my hometown and [to do] whatever was best for them.”
Ultimately, though, the decision came back to Tebow, who indicated that he would prefer to be traded to the Jets. Tebow said Monday that the decision to spurn Jacksonville for New York came down to his relationship with the Jets’ coaching staff.
Tebow worked with Jets offensive coordinator and former Dolphins coach Tony Sparano at the Senior Bowl while at Florida. He also said he had a relationship with head coach Rex Ryan, with whom he shares an agent.
“I know that Coach Mularkey and the coaches they have are good coaches, but I never met any of them, and I haven’t had an opportunity to get to know them,” Tebow said. “I’m sure it would have been exciting, it would have been fun to be home, but this is exciting, and I’m so proud to be a Jet. I think it’s going to be a lot of fun. This is a blessing for me, and it’s going to be a great opportunity.”
Tebow grew up in Jacksonville and went to college at the University of Florida in nearby Gainesville, and his addition to new head coach Mike Mularkey’s roster surely would have sparked some excitement among Jags’ fans.
However, Jaguars owner Shahid Khan told the Florida Times-Union that, while he felt that Jacksonville’s offer to the Broncos was better, he held off on sweetening the deal more and putting Denver in a position where they were forced to deal Tebow somewhere he didn’t want to go.
“That would have been the worst thing for Jacksonville and the worst thing for him,” Khan said. “He didn’t want to come, obviously. . . . Any one of the 53 players we have, have to be committed to Jacksonville, making us be the best team we are. The question was: Did he want to come? And if the decision had been taken out (of his hands), and we got him, that would not be good for him, or for us.”
It’s unclear exactly what Tebow’s role will be with the Jets, but Ryan indicated Sunday that Tebow likely would run New York’s wildcat package. How often the team uses Tebow, however, has yet to be determined.
“I think a lot of it has to do with how well it works, how it does in practice,” Tebow said. “Obviously you’re not going to just put something out there if its not executed and not running well, so I think it really matters how well we do and how well I can pick everything up.”
Some have suggested that Tebow won’t play and that the Jets only traded for the quarterback as a type of publicity stunt — an effort to steal some of the Giants’ thunder in New York. But Tebow’s not buying it.
“I don’t take offense to that, and I don’t think its true,” Tebow said of the notion that he was brought in to grab headlines. “The Jets get a lot of support as it is, and they have a lot of great fans so I don’t think it has much to do with that. I think it has more to do with coaches believing in me and hopefully thinking that I’m an OK football player.”
Tebow isn’t expected to challenge Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez for the starting job in New York, but as we saw in Denver, anything is possible. Even if he is relegated to a backup role, Tebow is happy with his new team.
“Having football coaches that believed in you, having football coaches that saw ability in me and having coaches that I really respected for how they coached the game, for who they were [was important to me],” Tebow said. “And then also you have so much support from (Jets owner) Mr. (Woody) Johnson and from (Jets general manager) Mr. (Mike) Tannenbaum, and if you look at these facilities, they really don’t get much better. So there’s a lot of pros here and not very many cons, and I’m excited about that.”
As for the Jaguars, they’re moving on without Tebow.
“In a way, this turned out great,” Khan told the Times-Union. “If he doesn’t want to come, here we would have blown through a draft pick, blown through money, because cash and salary cap, you’ve blown through all that, and we have a player who doesn’t want to be there. From their viewpoint, that is a far, far better alternative.”