By Kristian Dyer
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FLORHAM PARK, N.J. – If you believe the reports, Jets backup quarterback Tim Tebow is apparently on his way out the door at the end of this season if he doesn’t supplant Mark Sanchez as the team’s starter.
According to one columnist, an unnamed source said that Tebow “will want to move on” if he isn’t the Jets’ starter, but failed to cite any definitive proof behind this assessment. While the theory holds up against conventional wisdom — especially given that Tebow had 11 regular-season starts last year in Denver after beating out Kyle Orton for the starting job — the source and the theory behind it doesn’t fully add up when stacked against Tebow the man.
New York was Tebow’s choice, and he knew full well what he was getting himself into when he agreed to come to the Jets as part of a mid-March deal with Denver. He was coming to the Jets to sit behind Sanchez and act as the backup, and there would be a role for him in the Wildcat as well as on special teams. This wasn’t a great surprise to Tebow, who has never backed away from a challenge. It hasn’t changed who he is or how he’s approached the role; he’s the same in New York as he was in Denver last year.
And given the way he overcame the odds at the University of Florida to become a starter his sophomore year, and how he won the starting job with the Broncos in 2011, it would surprise no one if Tebow became the starter for the Jets. Not saying that it is likely, but given his track record it wouldn’t be a shock to anyone.
He is a gamer and a fighter, and one never counts out that type of player. The Tebow way isn’t to back down, and it isn’t to ask for a trade.
As such, it would be out of character for Tebow to demand a trade, or even rumble about it. When the Broncos signed Peyton Manning in March, there were no similar rumors about Tebow wanting a Mile High exit. Instead, he kept his cards close to his chest and simply waited for the move. He was willing to be a good teammate of Manning’s with the Broncos, but Denver wanted to capitalize his trade value.
So he embraced the possibility with the Jets, even as his new team labeled him a backup and limited him to a wrinkle role in the offense.
Simply, Tebow is a fighter and not one to back down from a challenge. There is a reason why he had five fourth-quarter comebacks last season and a total of six game-winning drives, as there is a relentlessness and aura that exudes from a player with unquestioned character.
It would be out of personality for Tebow to not want to stick it out in New York, and the reason might well go beyond the field. Within hours after he was traded to the Jets, a Tebow billboard from his sponsor, Jockey, popped up outside the Lincoln Tunnel, showing the type of marketability that No. 15 clearly has. But while the call of Madison Avenue and millions in endorsements beckons, Tebow is far more interested in the streets paved with gold, where dust and moss don’t corrupt.
You see, Tebow has never been about this world, and the born-again Christian with a strong faith isn’t as concerned about his snaps and playing time as he is with his own character and soul. For Tebow isn’t just an athlete or a personality; he’s an ambassador here on earth of a faith which he so clearly wants to share. The greatest media market in the world provides him with that platform, where at every turn he is being talked about.
And starter or not, New York lets him share his faith, something more important to him than wins and losses.
And at every turn, he can share that message locally, nationally and globally with the dozen cameras that surround him every time he has something to say.
The idea that Tebow would want a trade or even consider one flies in the face of the reality that has been seen from the moment he arrived in New York. The Jets made it clear that his role with the team was not as a starter and that he wasn’t brought in to compete with Sanchez. Even with what would be seen as a demotion, Tebow didn’t talk about expanding his playing time or wanting to be a starter.
In his introductory press conference, he used words like “win” and “teammate” as he made it clear that he just wanted to contribute to the Jets. Personal accolades mean nothing to him. A player who gutted through a serious knee injury his senior year in college and risked his draft status for the sake of winning is far from the type to grumble about snaps and being a starter.
Sources are sources, and they can be right and they can be wrong, but when speculating on a player like Tebow, there’s more to take into account then just what happens on the field. The impact of this man isn’t measured in snaps, passes completed and touchdowns. No, Tebow will weigh his years on this earth by the lives he’s touched, and no source anywhere can know just how much that means to him.
No matter what the year might bring, Tebow will handle the situation with class, and he won’t back down just because things didn’t fall his way. If he did, then he wouldn’t be Tebow.
Kristian R. Dyer covers the Jets for Metro New York and contributes to Yahoo! Sports as well as WFAN. He can be followed on Twitter here.
Would a trade request be too out of character for Tebow? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below…