NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — The general consensus is Tim Tebow is a good guy who just had a hard time latching on as a quarterback in the NFL.
He caught a lot of grief during his one season with the Jets, from fans calling him a joke and a public relations stunt by owner Woody Johnson to a coaching staff that just couldn’t figure out how to use him properly.
One would think the former Heisman Trophy winner would hold at least a little resentment toward the franchise.
Surprising wide receiver David Nelson, who was looking for work earlier in the season after being cut by Cleveland during the preseason, ran the idea of signing with the Jets by Tebow, who was his teammate at the University of Florida from 2006-09. The answer he got is likely going to surprise a lot of people, considering the rough time the unorthodox quarterback had in New York.
“He had tremendous respect for the organization. Obviously the playing time situation, everyone wants to play, but this organization treats its players first class, and that’s what I was curious about,” Nelson told Metro NY’s Kristian Dyer. “They take care of their players. Obviously the playing time and the schematic things [with him], that’s more about the coaches and the situation and the players. When I called him, it was more of an organization, more a locker room demeanor and presence. It was clear that he liked what the organization was about and how they treated the players.”
Nelson, who had 61 receptions with Buffalo back in 2011, had two catches in his debut with the Jets, a 30-28 win at Atlanta on Oct. 7, and has since been a solid part of a receiving corps that has struggled to put up numbers at the other end of throws by rookie quarterback Geno Smith. Nelson has 31 receptions for 357 yards in 10 games overall. He scored his first two touchdowns of the season last week against Cleveland.
Nelson initially signed a two-year deal with the Jets — all because Tebow eased some of his concerns about the great unknown that can be Rex Ryan’s world.
“Here I was, jumping into the locker room. I wanted to know about the guys, the situation,” Nelson said. “Playing in Buffalo, all I saw is what I saw on TV — what Rex said, how the players play [and] ‘Hard Knocks’ four years ago. I was asking him about a different perspective from what I saw,” Nelson told Metro NY.
“[Tebow] told me that guys really play for each other. They don’t bring guys in just for talent, they bring them in for the culture of the locker room. That’s one thing that stuck out from the call, one thing he really admired about the organization. They don’t just do an assessment of the player, they see how he fits in the organization as a whole,” Nelson added.
So while Tebow continues to try to get another opportunity to show he belongs in the NFL, Nelson will likely become a key contributor next season with Smith a year older and wiser and the Jets expected to go out and find other offensive skill position talent in both the draft and free agency.
Nelson told Metro NY that any preconceived notions that fans may have about Tebow’s opinion of the Jets are way off base.
“He really enjoyed his time here. I think that’s been documented. The playing time situation and how he fit in the offense, that’s for other people to speculate on,” Nelson said. “When I went to his gala for his foundation in Orlando, [Fla.] there were four or five guys from the Jets there. I think that says something about him. But he didn’t have anything bad to say to me about the team or the people here.”
The Jets (7-8) conclude the regular season Sunday at Miami.