Mark Sanchez said he’s not worried that Tim Tebow will threaten his job as the New York Jets’ starting quarterback and welcomes his teammate’s competitive nature.
“He’s here to help us,” Sanchez told reporters after Tebow’s introductory news conference yesterday. “I’m confident in my abilities. I know the team has the same belief. I’m the same guy who helped the team win a lot of games here.”
Sanchez said he called Tebow and welcomed him to the Jets following the March 21 trade with the Denver Broncos.
“Really, if he can help us win, I’m on board,” Sanchez said. “Whether it’s a draft player, a free agent or a trade, as the quarterback I’m for getting wins for this team. If Tim can help us win, I’m excited about that.”
Tebow, whose news conference drew more than 200 media members to the Jets’ practice complex in Florham Park, New Jersey, said yesterday he understands that he’s the backup to Sanchez, although that doesn’t mean he won’t try to earn the first-team position. Tebow helped the Broncos make the National Football League playoffs and rebound from a 1-4 start after taking over as the team’s starting quarterback last season.
“For everybody who puts on a uniform, you want to go out there and play,” Tebow said. “Every day in practice I am going to go out there, and I am going to compete.”
Sanchez, 25, and Tebow, 24, both said they look forward to working together. Sanchez has been the Jets’ starter the past three seasons and led the team to the American Football Conference championship game his first two years.
Sanchez this month signed a five-year, $58 million contract extension with more than $20 million guaranteed in the first two years, according to the New York Post, which cited a person it didn’t identify.
“Tim’s really just well-mannered, a great guy, smiling, excited all the time,” Sanchez said. “You can tell he’s competitive, he wants to win at everything, and that’s good. Those are the kind of guys we want on our team.”
Tebow will operate the Jets’ wildcat package, a formation that uses run-or-pass options to try to confuse defenses, and could play other positions, Jets coach Rex Ryan told reporters at league meetings in Palm Beach, Florida.
Tebow said yesterday he wants to help the team in whatever way he can, though his desire is to be a quarterback.
“That’s what I want to be and that’s what I believe I am,” Tebow said. “However I can make a difference, however they can use me, I’ll be open to it.”
Tebow’s late-game heroics in Denver helped him increase an already large fan base that followed him from his days at the University of Florida, where he won two national titles and a Heisman Trophy as college football’s top player in 2007. He entered the NFL two seasons ago as the 25th overall draft pick.
Tebow’s success became one of the dominant storylines in the NFL last season, spawning a phenomenon known as “Tebowmania” even with questions about his 46.5 pass- completion percentage and reliance on running, as most NFL teams are built around strong-armed quarterbacks.
A devout Christian with a devoted religious following, he kneeled to pray after winning games. He was mimicked worldwide in photos that circulated on social media websites in a fad that became known as “Tebowing.”
While Tebow was named America’s favorite pro athlete in an ESPN poll this year, Sanchez said he’s not concerned that Jets fans might chant Tebow’s name if the team is struggling.
“Those things happen,” Sanchez said. “Whether it’s Tim Tebow or not, they call for the backup. It’s just part of the job if you’re not playing well.”
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