Seriously, this is more an interrogation than an interview. Mehta is just attempting to put answers into Tebow's mouth and cause some controversy. It's obvious Tim isn't going to be ecstatic with his role as a backup; I don't think any second stringer in the league is necessarily pleased with their position and will want to start.
Tebow has played reasonably when called upon this year, even though the Wildcat is frustrating. But it's this kind of article surfacing that was exactly my fear when the team moved to acquire him. Tebow didn't say much, but it's obvious his refusal to answer some of the questions is going to spawn articles questioning his happiness and his relationship with Mark Sanchez at precisely the time of year that we don't need it.
The Daily News sat down for an exclusive, wide-ranging interview this week with backup quarterback and personal punt protector Tim Tebow to discuss the past, present and future.
- On Rex Ryan's loose-lipped locker-room culture:
"We've had a history here of people talking too much. You just don't want to do that."
- On his impact on Mark Sanchez:
"I feel like one of the reasons they brought me here was to help make him better."
- On waiting for his chance to be a starting quarterback again:
"I'm working on a lot of things and feeling like I'm getting better. Looking forward to one day being able to show some of those things... You never know for me. My role, it could expand."
* * *
DN: Did you see the recent Sports Illustrated players' poll that ranked you as the Most Overrated Player in the NFL?
TT: Oh, really? No, I didn't see it. Yeah, it's really fine. It's both sides, because they also voted me in the Top 100 (Players on NFL Network), too.
DN: You've done everything the coaches have asked you to do, but why haven't you ever come out and simply said, "Mark Sanchez is our starting QB. As the backup, I support him"?
TT: For one, I think my role here is just to do the best I can with everything I'm asked. And I try not to give opinions above my pay grade. For the most part, just work hard. I'm not into making predictions or saying thoughts like that. I just go about my business.
DN: But that wouldn't be making a prediction or a decision above your pay grade. It's the depth chart: Mark Sanchez is the starter.
DN: Last year, didn't you get fined by the Broncos quarterbacks for not speaking out against a billboard put up by fans that called for Kyle Orton to be benched in favor of you? Didn't the quarterbacks just want you to come out and say, 'Kyle is our starting QB. As the backup, I support him and so should the fans?'
TT: I think that was a totally different situation. I obviously didn't have anything to do with the billboard when I was 100% behind our organization there in Denver and did whatever I could. That was a long time ago and something that I'm not worried about now... I always said stuff for them. I believe I say very complimentary things about my teammates now, including Mark.
DN: You are one of the most competitive players in the league. Don't you feel some level of frustration because you've had a limited role so far?
TT: We're only in our seventh week of the season. The season's got a long way to go. We got an opportunity to win a game this week and go to 4-4.
DN: You are going to run for political office in the next couple years, aren't you?
DN: All joking aside, I don't think anybody would ever question that you're a team-first guy. Don't you believe that people would view your frustration over the lack of playing time as an expression of your competitiveness?
TT: I am someone that is very competitive. When I'm on the field, I compete. When I'm practicing, when I'm in meetings. I'm a competitor in everything. So you want to do whatever you can to help the team. Sometimes it's called being a great teammate, having a great attitude on the sidelines. That's part of helping your team as well.
DN: Do you think your career is currently in a holding pattern with the Jets?
TT: I don't know about that. I think I'm getting better every day. I'm improving.
DN: Improving as a quarterback?
DN: Isn't the best way to get better to be in live game situations as a quarterback?
TT: Absolutely. That's probably the way to get better fastest, but I'm working on a lot of things and feeling like I'm getting better. You know, looking forward to one day being able to show some of those things. But constantly getting better.
DN: Can you be a starting quarterback in this league over time?
TT: I believe in my God-given athletic ability and the coaches that have been blessed around me. I believe I can do the job as a quarterback in the NFL.
DN: When you look back on your career five or 10 years from now, would you have had to play quarterback in order for it to have been a success
TT: Oh, man. There's so many outside factors. If I believe that I became the best quarterback that I could possibly be, the best football player that I could possibly be... That's how I'm going to measure my career as a success or not.
DN: Who's the best quarterback on the Jets right now?
DN: That's a fair question.
TT: It's absolutely a fair question... Whoever's out there on the field.
DN: That would mean Mark, because he's the one out there on the field.
TT: (Nods)... When I'm asked to do something, hopefully, you know, I'm the best person for that job. When he's asked to do something, he'll be the best person for that job.
DN: How have you become a better passer if you've thrown it only three times in seven games?
TT: Because I do it in practice and try to improve and do good on scout team and give our team a look. Work extra. Work early.
DN: How do you know if your practice improvement is a true measure of whether you've actually improved if you're not doing it in a real game?
TT: Obviously, you have to get (into) a game.
DN: Do you think that people will view you as not being a team guy if you express your frustration over your lack of playing time?
TT: I don't know if that's not being a team guy. I think that I try to be open and honest in talking to the media. Obviously try to be honest. But sometimes you don't have to talk about everything. We've had a history here of people talking too much. You just don't want to do that. Why make it something if it's not?
DN: Do you think that people would say, 'That's a very un-Tim Tebow thing' to voice disappointment or frustration with your role?
TT: (Laughs)... Obviously, I'm a competitor. And you get frustrated with losing. When we win, I'm excited about winning. That way I get the ups and downs of a football season. But I also know that it's never as good as it seems, it's never as bad as seems. You always have to stay focused because you never know for me. My role, it could expand. So you just got to always be ready.
DN: Is it unfair to Mark to have one of the most popular guys in the league as his backup?
TT: I feel like one of the reasons they brought me here was to help make him better by being someone that could come in and convert some first downs, make some plays, do different things. So, hopefully our being together will benefit both of us.
DN: Do you think that this quarterback situation has stunted both of your developments?
TT: I don't know if that's fair to say. Sometimes it's helped us in some games.
DN: How has being on the Jets helped you become a better quarterback?
TT: You know, I've been blessed to be able to work with (quarterbacks) Coach (Matt) Cavanaugh and get a lot better. Some of the things that you can't see, I feel like I've improved on.
DN: Do you think you're a better player now than you were at the end of last season?
TT: Yes... Why? Just because you can't show it?
DN: There's no tangible evidence of it.
TT: That's for you. I don't have to convince you of it. It's about me believing that I'm better.
DN: This is a results-oriented business. Owners, general managers, coaches judge you based on results. You're honestly saying that you're a better football player today than you were at the end of your playoff run in Denver last season?
TT: Yes... I am a better football player. Maybe I haven't been able to show everything, but I do believe that I'm a better football player, a better quarterback.
DN: So, do you think this situation is unfair to Mark?
TT: Hopefully, it makes both of us better.
DN: Do you think that it has to this point?
TT: I think both of us have improved, yes. I do think both of us have improved as quarterbacks and as football players.
DN: Ultimately, don't you guys have to take divergent paths? Because you both want the same thing: To be the starting quarterback. You can't be that for this team as long as Mark is here. Or vice versa. You can't have two starting quarterbacks on the same team, so how long can this professional relationship last?
TT: That's not up to us. We're just trying to beat the Miami Dolphins however we can.
DN: For both of your careers to flourish, wouldn't you say that you have to be in different places? Can you be on the same team for the next five years?
TT: I'm not going to focus on the next five years of my career. I'm going to focus on Sunday.
DN: To close on a lighter note, you have become a favorite character on 'Saturday Night Live.' Have you ever considered hosting the show?
TT: We've come close a few times. My schedule's been so busy. It would be fun to do it one day. The right day.
DN: Thanks, Tim. I appreciate you taking the time. I know these weren't the easiest questions.
TT: Ya think?!