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By Kristian Dyer
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FLORHAM PARK, N.J. – Tim Tebow is the same off the field as he is on it — and that’s a winner.
The Jets’ backup quarterback showed in his Thursday morning interview with WFAN’s “Boomer & Carton” that he has the same ability to escape tough questions as he has to evade blitzing defensive linemen with his quick feet. In sitting down with the show hosts, Tebow was going face to face with former NFL quarterback Boomer Esiason, one of his biggest critics. Just a couple of weeks back, Esiason said that the Jets should cut Tebow, and he’s been very critical of Tebow’s style of play and mechanics.
None of that came out on Thursday morning, as Esiason looked to be comfortable with the Jets’ quarterback. Credit goes to the man called “Boomer” for not backing down in front of the charming Tebow on his views, but it was clear that Tebow was wowing his critics and the listening audience alike.
LISTEN: Tebow with Boomer & Carton
Truth be told, Tebow faced an impossible task on Thursday, and he handled it deftly and perfectly.
Polarizing as they come, nearly every aspect of Tebow is dissected in the press. There’s no shades of grey about Tebow the football player -– either one is encamped in the “He can’t be an NFL quarterback camp,” or one is lining up to purchase tickets for his induction into Canton. There’s no middle ground, no hedging on the topic.
The same is true off the field, with Tebow’s vibrant Christian faith always on display. Esiason has joked that he’s already been “God Blessed” by Tebow three times, and Thursday marked the fourth occasion for “Boomer.” He doesn’t shy away from his faith or the conservative values he espouses. Tebow fans by and large may not be Jets fans –- they are instead supporters of the man first and foremost, the football player second and whatever team he plays for third.
And there are those of course that disagree with his faith, with his lifestyle, with his personal choices or simply his play on the field. But everyone can agree that Tebow has charm and charisma, and that was on display on Thursday in his interview.
He didn’t sit down with just any two interviewers; this was the duo that could create more problems for him than any others on sports talk radio in New York. “Boomer & Carton” aren’t shock jocks, they aren’t your typical talking heads on sports radio. With his 14 years in the NFL and accomplishments that stretch far and wide, Esiason is in a better position than anyone else to talk about being a quarterback. He’s respected, opinionated and well-spoken. When he criticizes a quarterback, he does so with the mind of a man who has been playing the position since childhood all the way up to the Super Bowl. This isn’t some scrub taking shots at Tebow; it is a man who speaks with authority, and rightly so.
In Craig Carton, one would be hard-pressed to find a bigger Jets fan or a more passionate one. It is clear that Carton lives, eats and breathes his team — the look of sheer angst or pure joy on his face Monday mornings clearly shows how the game the day before played out. Carton, like any fan, has deep feelings about his team. And as a result, he can be irrational in his beliefs. He is the flip to Esiason’s cool, calculated approach, and it makes for great radio.
It also means that Tebow could have been stepping into a quagmire on Thursday morning, but again, he handled it perfectly.
For Esiason, he spoke about improving his mechanics and fundamentals and working on his weaknesses. Wanting red meat for his rabid Jets fandom, Carton heard Tebow say he wanted to put his “heart and soul” out on the field for the Jets. It was deft, a tiptoe on a high wire beamed out to millions on WFAN and simulcast on MSG.
It won’t change whether he’s an NFL-caliber quarterback or the perception that people have of him, but Tebow’s appearance on “Boomer & Carton” was his best play of the day.
Kristian R. Dyer covers the NFL and college football for Metro New York and contributes to Yahoo! Sports as well as WFAN. He can be followed on Twitter here.
Was Tebow masterful in the daunting task of going toe-to-toe with Booms and Craig? Let us know your thoughts in the section below…