Jets owner: Tim Tebow a winner

Updated: March 26, 2012, 10:54 AM ET
By Pat Yasinskas | ESPN.com

PALM BEACH, Fla. -- New York Jets owner Woody Johnson said Sunday that Tim Tebow's off-field popularity was not the reason his team traded for the quarterback, strongly emphasizing that the deal with Denver strictly was a football move.

"Let me be really clear about this, we work for the fans and the fans want us to win games," Johnson said shortly after arriving at the NFL's annual spring meeting in his first public comments on Tebow's acquisition. "So all of the decisions we make regarding the team are just for football. It's hard to predict other things. If you get confused in term of what your mission is, you're not going to accomplish your mission. And our mission is to win games pure and simple. We think that Tim Tebow has been a winner all his life."

Jets coach Rex Ryan told ESPN's Rachel Nichols on Sunday that the criticism of the trade is unwarranted.

"People have no idea -- we're going to come out swinging," Ryan said. "I hear people questioning us, but we feel great, we're ready to go."

Johnson also said Mark Sanchez remains the team's starter and hinted Tebow could play roles beyond quarterback.

"Tim Tebow will be a good addition to the team," Johnson said. "From a football standpoint, he adds flexibility, versatility, he's a great athlete and he's a big athlete. He can do a lot of things besides being the backup quarterback. I think all of those thing are going to make us a better and stronger team going forward. I'm excited to have him on board."

Johnson said he's not worried about how Sanchez and Tebow will deal with the situation.

"I'm really not," Johnson said. "They know each other. Being an NFL quarterback is one of the hardest jobs you can have from a pressure standpoint, from an athletic standpoint, etc. Pressure is something that Mark has no problem with and neither does Tim Tebow from what I gather."

Ryan said Sunday that Sanchez was OK with the move.

"I told him we got another competitor who is going to make our team better," Ryan said. "Mark wants to win, he's good."

Johnson said the team still has confidence in Sanchez going forward.

"He realizes he's got to make some improvements," Johnson said. "The reason we signed him to the extension that we did is that we have so much confidence in Mark."

Tebow will be introduced at a news conference Monday. Although it's unusual to have a press conference to introduce a backup quarterback, Johnson said the team decided to do it due to strong media demand.

ESPN's Rachel Nichols contributed to this report.

Pat Yasinskas | email

ESPN Tampa Bay Buccaneers reporter

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