Ex-mate: Tim Tebow wants to start

Updated: April 4, 2012, 10:49 AM ET
By Rich Cimini | ESPNNewYork.com

Denver Broncos cornerback Champ Bailey, who experienced two seasons of Tebowmania, delivered a warning to New York Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez on Tuesday.

Tim Tebow wants your job.

"Oh, he's going to challenge him, absolutely," Bailey said at the launch of the NFL's new uniforms in Brooklyn. "Sanchez can't feel too comfortable in his seat. If he keeps playing well, he doesn't have to worry about it. But if he doesn't play well, we all know what's going to happen next."

Bailey Sanchez can't feel too comfortable in his seat. If he keeps playing well, he doesn't have to worry about it. But if he doesn't play well, we all know what's going to happen next.

-- Broncos CB Champ Bailey
on Tim Tebow challenging Mark Sanchez

Bailey saw it first-hand last season. After a 1-4 start, Tebow replaced Kyle Orton and won seven of 11 starts, rallying the Broncos to the AFC West title and a wild-card victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers.

On Tuesday, Bailey found himself in Tebow's new city, one of 32 players -- one from each team -- modeling the new Nike uniforms. Not surprisingly, the Jets' acquisition of Tebow was a hot topic among the players, with Bailey predicting that Tebowmania will be bigger in New York than it was in Denver.

"Just roll with it, you can't stop it," he said, offering advice to Tebow's new teammates. "The one thing that made it easy to deal with was the way he handled it. He handled it with a lot of class, very professional. I love him to death. He's a great kid. I wish him the best. Whatever he gets, he deserves."

The Jets have emphasized that Sanchez is their starting quarterback, and that Tebow is the backup and will be used in a Wildcat package. Bailey said Tebow never would complain about his role, but he aspires to be more than a situational player.

"I think he'll do it," Bailey said. "Will he like doing it for the rest of his career? I don't think so. I think this is a short-term thing. The guy will be a starter at some point, whether it's here or somewhere else, because he's going to work to get it done."

Jets running back Shonn Greene, echoing what several other teammates have said in recent days, said there's no reason why Sanchez can't co-exist with Tebow.

"Why not? Why wouldn't he be able to?" asked Greene, who represented the Jets at the uniform launch. "It's a good thing. It puts more pressure on defenses."

Coach Rex Ryan has said the Jets, who strayed from their ground-and-pound personality last season, will re-emphasize the running game in 2012. Greene, New York's No. 1 back, said he's looking forward to playing for new coordinator Tony Sparano. Greene said the Wildcat, with Tebow in the mix, should be effective.

"I'm looking forward to a brand new fresh start," Greene said.

Tebow has been careful not to say anything remotely controversial, but he's too competitive to be satisfied as a No. 2 quarterback, according to Bailey.

"I absolutely think he can be a starting quarterback," Bailey said. "I know he's not content with the way he plays right now. He wants to get better at a lot of different things. If he gets better, he'll be a consistent starting quarterback in this league at some point."

Bailey said Tebow's presence will make Sanchez "work even harder. I'm sure he's a hard worker now, but when you see guys doing things very well, it makes you want to do better."

New York Giants wide receiver Victor Cruz, who drew more reporters than any player at the event, was asked about Tebow and cracked, "I knew I'd get that question." He laughed.

"I like Tim Tebow as a person," Cruz said. "He's a great guy. To have Tebowmania here in New York, it'll be fun."

Rich Cimini

ESPN New York Jets reporter

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