FLORHAM PARK, N.J. - (AP) - Tim Tebow got his first New Yorkclose-up Monday.
Speaking at news conference in the Jets field house, because themedia crush was so great the session couldn't be hold in the team'snormal press room, the headline-grabbing New York backup QB wentout of his way to play down any conflict between himself andstarter Mark Sanchez.
"Me and Mark have a great relationship," Tebow said. "We'vebeen friends past three years and have already texted back andforth. We are going to have a great working relationship and Ithink we'll have a lot of fun together."
Acquired last Wednesday from Denver, the exciting but flawedquarterback is coming off a season of incredible comebacks with theBroncos. The Jets are hoping he has more surprises left in him.
Tebow's new club threw him a quick challenge on Monday, sendinghim out alone to take questions at what was probably the biggestnews conference ever for a second-string NFL player. Tebow stayedcomposed, answering all the queries with an upbeat delivery formore than half an hour.
Coach Rex Ryan, general manager Mike Tannenbaum and owner WoodyJohnson were not in the building. They were down at the NFLmeetings in Palm Beach, Fla., far away from the wild scene at theteam's headquarters.
While Ryan and Tannenbaum insist Sanchez is entrenched as thefirst-string quarterback, Tebow will also see plenty of time on thefield and certainly much more of the spotlight.
Ryan suggested on Sunday that Tebow could be used at a positionother than quarterback. He kept referring to Tebow as a "footballplayer," his ability not limited to quarterback.
"I don't see Tim just holding a clipboard," Ryan told a groupof reporters while in Florida for a meeting of NFL team owners."He's going to be playing for us. There is no doubt."
Ryan added: "There won't be a better wildcat quarterback in thegame. Is that his only role? I don't believe that. We'll see."
Tebow said first and foremost he's a quarterback, and that's hishope and dream, but "however I can help the team, I am open toit."
The newest Jet has already helped his team get some attention.While the club claims the trade for Tebow was a football-relatedmove, it was also marketing gold as the polarizing QB has occupiedthe back - and, in some cases, the front - pages of the NewYork-area tabloids. And that's just weeks after the Giants wontheir second Super Bowl in four years.
Legions of fans have been snatching up Tebow's green and whiteNo. 15 jersey. The famed Carnegie Deli in Manhattan already has asandwich named after him, and Jockey has a digital billboard adoutside the Lincoln Tunnel - on the New Jersey side - with theunderwear company saying it supports "Tebow & New York."
It's been a whirlwind of a few weeks for Tebow, who just lastmonth was declared Denver's starting quarterback going into thissummer by John Elway. Not long after that, Peyton Manning wassuddenly in town and Tebow was told he could get traded.
So much for "Timsanity" in Denver. Well, it has hit Broadwayin full force, making "Linsanity" and the New York Knicks'sensational Jeremy Lin seem like a distant memory.
Manning was introduced as the Broncos' newest quarterback lastTuesday, and just over 24 hours later, Tebow was on the move,surprisingly headed to New York.
And then, he wasn't.
A snag in the deal held things up between the Jets and Broncos,the delay centered on a salary advance due Tebow. Jacksonville,once considered one of the favorites to land their hometown star,jumped back in the hunt. But eight hours later, the Jets finallycompleted the trade, agreeing to pay half of the $5 million Denverowed Tebow. There was yet one more delay before the trade becameofficial, as a technicality required Tebow to sign a rewrittencontract which kept him on the Broncos' salary cap until Saturdayafternoon.
But now Tebow is here, a member of the Jets. And they intend tomake things work with him and Sanchez, who was given a contractextension that included $20.5 million guaranteed less than twoweeks ago. He hasn't commented publicly on the deal yet, buttraining camp up in quaint Cortland, N.Y., might be a pretty hotspot - especially if Sanchez struggles and restless fans push formore Tebow, creating a quarterback controversy that could last allseason.
Jets fans have been decidedly mixed on the trade, with manywondering why the team would add a monster distraction to a lockerroom that had serious issues last season and was partly to blamefor an 8-8 finish. Sanchez's leadership and confidence werequestioned by some players, speaking anonymously in newspapersreports, and the addition of Tebow could cut into the startingquarterback's ability to regain the room.
Joe Namath ripped the trade, calling it "a publicity stunt,"and cornerback Antonio Cromartie wondered on Twitter why the Jetswould even need a guy like Tebow. He later reversed course, sayinghe supported Tebow and the team, but there have been plenty ofother critics who have made it clear that they think the Jets madethe wrong move.
While Tebow took Denver from 1-4 to AFC West champions lastseason, the 2007 Heisman Trophy winner hit fewer than 50 percent ofhis passes and often seemed more comfortable running than passing.Throw in Tebow's public displays of faith - he is a devoutChristian - and he quickly has become a player who triggers astrong reaction from fans.
But whether anyone likes it or not, Tebow is part the New Yorksports scene. Now the Jets must figure out how to make it a winningaddition.