Saturday, February 6, 2010

Tebow ducks Super Bowl Limelight

It seems yesterday's provocative advice from Joseph Goodman was a day late after all. Dave George, of the Palm Beach Post, has the scoop.

Suddenly, Tim Tebow, one of history's greatest and boldest college football players, is a professional.

What that means is he's got handlers now who have him convinced he really can be hurt after all, and that sometimes hiding behind a wall is wiser than trying to run through one.

Foreign concepts, these are, for a guy who always craved collisions, which is pretty strange for a quarterback, and who has spent his entire high-profile life trying to make everybody happy, which is far more exhausting than running wind sprints.

On Friday, Tebow's initial touchdown on the Super Bowl landscape was a cloaked affair, awkward, mysterious.

The Gatorade gang surely didn't do the guy any favors there, setting up a performance lab in the same convention center space that houses the Super Bowl media center and asking Tebow to hustle in a side door and shoot a couple hours of exercise-bike video behind a black-curtains screen guarded by two security men.

A few hundred feet away the carnival of radio row was in full session, with Jamie Foxx and Floyd Mayweather Jr., and Adam Sandler and all manner of NFL stars past and present working their way from one live interview table to another. Had Tebow stepped into their view, it would have been a feeding frenzy, but he did not.

Just the other day Joe Theismann, former Super Bowl champion with the Washington Redskins, took his turn on the row, telling a Jacksonville radio station that Tebow should have retired after his college career ended and adding "obviously, at Florida, they don't teach throwing the football."

Unlike Tebow, Theismann never won a Heisman Trophy or a national championship, but powerful opinions are what make Super Bowl week pop between Monday and Saturday.

Tebow's participation in a Focus on the Family ad scheduled to run during the Super Bowl broadcast proves the point. He's against abortion. That's his opinion.

On Friday, a representative of the sports agency that now handles Tebow declared that the topic is off limits, and after an afternoon of negotiating with a few print reporters who patiently waited to speak with his client about all sorts of things, he decided that Tebow was off limits, too.

Got a minute, Tim? "Sorry," Tebow said with a smile as he headed for a side exit in a fast-moving river of Gatorade PR people, thus avoiding the convention center's main lobby and all the reporters and fans who would have been shocked and pleased to bump into him there.

There was one radio interview, on the phone, with ESPN's Scott Van Pelt. The questions were safe, the script clearly pre-approved.

For instance, a message posted this week on the Jacksonville Jaguars Web site by Jags offensive lineman Uche Nwaneri would have made for an interesting discussion. It never came up, however, even though Nwaneri wrote that Tebow "can't throw, PERIOD." And can't read defenses, either.

"I think something I learned a long time ago and I'm still working on today, is that everything you do is going to have pros and cons," Tebow told Van Pelt. "Some people are going to be behind you and some are not.

"For me, it's just dealing with that, not worrying about what you can't control. It's me trying to become the best quarterback I can be, working on all these things, improving, not shying away from competition. Just going out there and being me."


This is business now, of course, and Tebow has trouble enough trying to prove to NFL personnel experts that he is worth a high draft pick.

Here, though, is the first indication that Tebow has learned enough about the world at large to shy away from the hits it can bring.

That's a change that came more quickly than any future adjustments to his throwing motion, and with startling ease.

Full story here.

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