As the glare of nearly three dozen television cameras and 200 members of the media bore down on Tim Tebow during his introductory press conference, he stood calmly at the podium and dismissed the idea that he was under pressure to resurrect the franchise.
“None actually, I don’t really feel too much extra pressure. I’m enjoying the opportunity — how exciting it is. I’m excited to be a Jet. We have a long ways to go before OTAs and training camp,” Tebow said.
“I’m sure there will be some pressure leading up to it, but I’ve always enjoyed pressure. Before every time you give a speech before practice, before every football game I play, I always get a little bit nervous and that’s something that excites me. I think I play better when I’ve got something on the line and that’s something I try to thrive on. When that feeling goes away, it’s time to stop playing football.”
Part of the pressure around Tebow is that the God-fearing quarterback now enters a very godless locker room. The Jets earned a reputation under head coach Rex Ryan as a bit of a wild bunch. There have been arrests and run-ins with the law in his three years as head coach and HBO’s Hard Knocks two years ago showed Ryan as bombastic and foul-mouthed. Enter the cherubic Tebow.
The son of missionary parents, Tebow’s fame in part circled around his faith. His eyeblack traditionally carried Bible references during his collegiate career at Florida and his press conference refrain of “I want to thank my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” has become legendary.
He doesn’t see his faith as another distraction in a situation filled with them.
“Obviously I’m someone that is very outspoken about my faith and I’ve never been ashamed of it. Any time I get the opportunity I thank my Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ because that’s the most important thing to me,” Tebow said.
“I’m pretty sure I’m not the first athlete that has gotten on a knee and prayed. Somehow it’s got to be known as ‘Tebowing’ and I’m not sure why. It has something to do a little bit with hype. If people are talking about prayer or my faith, then I think that’s pretty cool.”
As much pressure as Tebow will feel in the media frenzy that is New York City, it may be the Jets who now feel the most stress as they roll out the biggest distraction in the NFL. Tebow transcends the game and as soon as current starter Mark Sanchez stumbles, there will be calls for him to play more.
Jets general manager Mike Tannenbaum said last week on a conference call with the media that he envisions using Tebow in special Wildcat packages to maximize his skill set. This past weekend, head coach Rex Ryan hinted that the “Tebow package” could be used up to 20 times a game.
“One misconception is that people think the Wildcat is just a direct snap to the running back and you fake it and run power outside zone or inside zone. That’s a big misconception,” Tebow said.
“When you have five to six people that have the chance to touch the ball on any single play then I think it can be confusing and it can make defenses play slow.”
Follow Jets beat writer Kristian Dyer on Twitter @KristianRDyer.