NEW YORK (WFAN) — NFL analyst and Hall of Fame defensive end Howie Long has plenty of good things to say about Tim Tebow.
But he’s not sure the Jets backup quarterback’s positives are enough to outweigh all that comes with Tebow-mania.
“He handles his detractors with Gandhi-like poise,” Long told WFAN’s Boomer Esiason and Craig Carton on Wednesday. Esiason made national headlines Monday when he said he’d cut Tebow. Not surprisingly, the 24-year-old responded with grace.
“People look at this guy and they wonder, ‘Who is Tim Tebow?’ ” Long said. “Tim Tebow is exactly who he presents himself to be. He’s as positive a guy as I could ever imagine in football.”
“I wouldn’t have brought him in,” Long said.
LISTEN: Howie Long with Boomer & Carton
The Hall of Famer said offensive coordinator Tony Sparano was the Jets’ “acquisition of the year.” Why not Tebow? The backup-slash-wildcat specialist is just too much of a “distraction.”
Long likened the Tebow frenzy in Cortland to “Hard Knocks,” the HBO reality series which gave fans a behind-the-scenes look at Miami Dolphins training camp in its premiere Tuesday night. Coach Rex Ryan and the Jets were featured on the show in 2010 but opted against participating this year.
“When Tim Tebow comes, he comes with great distraction,” said Long. “I’m not a fan of the HBO series. I think it’s entertaining, but I think it gives the outside world access and distracts your football team. Tim Tebow has that kind of impact on a football team.”
He added: “The round-the-clock, 24-hour-a-day coverage that the Jets are getting on every throw … every down and distance, red zone, that Tebow takes snaps from the punt team, I think it distracts from your football team and your focus. And it’s a good Jets football team that could contend for a Super Bowl.”
The acquisition certainly helped light a fire under starter Mark Sanchez, who regressed in his third pro season. And if Tebow’s performance in goal-line drills at training camp last week was any indication, he’ll help the Jets get in the end zone.
But Long is worried about what might happen if Sanchez falters mid-season.
“I like what I hear out of Mark Sanchez to this point,” said Long. “He seems focused, he seems matured. But the real question becomes in Week 2, Week 6, Week 7 when, like every quarterback, he has that inevitable gaffe of a game and the Jets fans are calling for Tim Tebow.”
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