If Tim Tebow's time in New York City was almost defined by his constant presence in the unrelenting New York media, it appears his and the Patriots' strategy in New England is to keep him off camera as much as possible. The newly signed quarterback appeared for the first time at practice after signing what is said to be a two year contract with no guaranteed money.
He spoke for a total of 45 seconds. "It's going to be a lot of fun. I'm looking forward to working hard every single day and getting a lot better and learning under some great people. That's all I got. Thank you all so much and God bless. I'm sure we'll be talking more soon," he told the large gaggle of reporters gathered around him.
In an ironic twist as the Florida grad participated in his first practice, Mike Kafka, the quarterback cut to make room for him on the Patriots roster, was picked up off the waivers by the Jacksonville Jaguars -- a franchise which ignored petitions from fans to bring in Tebow.
Kafka, a Northwestern grad, played in four games for Philadelphia in 2011. He completed 11 of 16 passes for 107 yards, with no touchdowns and two interceptions before being cut last season.
"Happy for @mikekafka3 getting claimed off waivers by the #Jaguars," his agent, Mike McCartney tweeted Tuesday afternoon, the only person to really comment on the roster addition.
Though it seems almost hypocritical to point out that much of Tebow's problems come from the overwhelming media circus that follows him wherever he goes, that was one of the most stinging criticisms levied on him by Tony Dungy in ESPN The Magazine last month.
"If he's getting blackballed, it's because backup quarterbacks are not supposed to be the focus, and if Tim's on your team, he's the sole focus," Dungy said last month. "Nobody wants to be answering those questions all day long, every day, from the fans, media and teammates."
Was the media coverage his only problem? Of course not. But it's harder to pick up a backup quarterback or switch him to tight end or special teams when each snap is heavily scrutinized by not only beat writers but is the lead story on SportsCenter. The difference in the storylines this time around is that Tom Brady is not a struggling quarterback and the Patriots are not a struggling franchise.
A former NFL team front office official said that for the Patriots, it's never been about lengthy press conferences or easy media access for any of their players but they certainly weren't looking to make a huge splash for this signing.
"Look at what's happened in the past and what a big deal was made out of his introductory press conference when [Tebow] joined his last team," the former front office official said.
In many ways, the way that Patriots have historically handled the press differently than the Jets might be the only way to save Tebow's career. "I think he's a team-oriented guy," the former official said. "He just wants to fit in, he can't help it that people ask the questions and he can't change the fact that people are interested in him."
To no one's surprise even with him hundreds of miles away, in New York on Tuesday, the majority of the questions were about Tebow's latest move.
"I don't want to comment on it too much," tackle Austin Howard told ESPN, almost wearily. "Because of his work ethic, I'm happy to see him with another team. But as far as anything else goes, I'm focused on the Jets."
Rex Ryan, all smiles, told reporters he wished his former quarterback well and wasn't surprised that another team had picked him up.
"If they want to replace (Tom) Brady with him," Rex Ryan told reporters, "that's fine."
It was a Ryan-like joke and everyone surely cracked a smile. Perhaps even Tebow, who knows that it's unlikely he'll start anything close to a quarterback competition -- after all, as he learned in his first day of practice today, he's not in New York anymore.
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