Nov. 16, 2012 at 9:58 AM ET
Ripped by anonymous New York Jets teammates as “terrible’’ and “not a quarterback” in the New York Daily News on Wednesday, media lightning rod Tim Tebow has deflected the pot shots with his typical diplomacy.
“This is something I can't control, but I can control my attitude, my effort and my work ethic,’’ Tebow told reporters.
Before the critical story appeared in the paper, Tebow spoke with Jason Kennedy on TODAY about his role on the Jets, where he has been the back-up to starter Mark Sanchez after a high-profile trade from the Denver Broncos. But Tebow has not found a comfortable role on offense, and the Jets have had a dismal 3-6 start.
“Honestly, I’m just trying to do the best I can with every opportunity I’m given, and when I’m given the opportunities make the most of them,’’ Tebow told Kennedy.
Another opportunity Tebow has taken is to trademark “Tebowing,’’ his signature bended-knee pose where he bows his head in prayer during games. The move became an online meme and spawned a merchandising industry, so Tebow is trying to corral it.
“For me getting on a knee and praying is a very special deal for me,’’ Tebow said. “A very special moment. For me, it was honoring that and not letting people go out there and make a mockery of it and do a lot of different things and just kind of keeping it safe.’’
Tebow became the talk of the NFL last year when, as starting quarterback, he led the Broncos to the AFC playoffs and a first-round win over the Pittsburgh Steelers. While his role has dramatically lessened on the Jets, his profile off the field has not waned.
“It’s still not too easy to walk around, but it’s OK,’’ Tebow said. “It's been a whirlwind. It's been a lot of fun, a lot of ups and downs, getting used to New York and New Jersey.”
Persistent rumors have linked Tebow, one of the most sought-after bachelors and famous virgins in sports, to actress Camilla Belle, an ex of Joe Jonas.
“I have gotten asked that a lot over the last two weeks and when I start to talk about it, Jason, I will definitely let you know,’’ Tebow told Kennedy.
Kennedy said he has asked Tebow four other times before whether he has a girlfriend and has always received a flat, “No,’’ so maybe something is brewing after this latest response.
“That's another exclusive,’’ Kennedy cracked. “You're giving me exclusives left and right.”