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Tim Tebow, Rex Ryan Share Bond Of Tackling Dyslexia

(credit: Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images)

(credit: Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images)

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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – Last season, football fans learned that you just can’t count out Tim Tebow.

He became a sensation with Denver in 2011 by orchestrating one late-game comeback after another, all while fighting the perception that he wouldn’t — and couldn’t — succeed in the NFL.

But battling the odds is nothing new to the Jets backup quarterback, who — like coach Rex Ryan — has overcome dyslexia to reach the highest level of the sport. Tebow and his new coach both recently spoke with Jenny Vrentas of the Newark Star-Ledger about how they managed to outrun the learning disability.

“So much in football is touching, feeling, walking through, writing it on boards, drawing Xs and Os,” said Tebow, explaining his process as a kinesthetic learner. “And all those are the best for me.”

Tebow also shared his struggles with dyslexia in his book, “Through My Eyes,” and in an interview for the BOOK IT! reading incentive program. The 24-year-old told BOOK IT! that he learned to read with Dr. Seuss’ “Green Eggs and Ham.”

A video of Tebow reading the classic has been played on YouTube over 300,000 times.

“And that’s kind of how he plays, right?” Ryan told the Star-Ledger. “He finds a way to win. When you look at it, it might not be a traditional way, but all he does, he finds ways to win. And he certainly did that against us in Denver (last season), you know what I mean?”

Tebow and Ryan haven’t spoken about their mutual experience, Vrentas reported. Tebow, whose father and older brother are also dyslexic, was diagnosed at a young age. It wasn’t that way for Ryan, who learned of his dyslexia in his 40s.

Ryan told The Associated Press in 2009: “So much of school, you have to write, but I just struggled. I couldn’t help it.”

“I don’t think it makes me respect him more, because I respect coach Ryan a lot,” said Tebow. “What it does is just show that learning disabilities, especially dyslexia, have nothing to do with how smart or intelligent someone is. Because there are not many minds in the NFL that are as bright or as sharp or as flexible as coach Ryan’s.”

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