Tim Tebow adjusts to N.Y. hype

Updated: July 30, 2012, 9:56 PM ET
By Rich Cimini | ESPNNewYork.com

CORTLAND, N.Y. -- Tim Tebow used to do it all the time at the University of Florida and the Denver Broncos. He peeled off his practice jersey, ran wind sprints and jogged -- shirtless -- to the locker room.

When he did it Saturday at the New York Jets' training camp -- in the rain, past a handful of photographers -- it became a national story.

"I didn't really think all y'all would be taking pictures," Tebow, laughing, said Monday in his first interview since ShirtGate.

Welcome to New York.

Tebow has lived under an intense spotlight for several years, dating to high school, but he's learning that "Being Tim Tebow" is a bit different in the New York market.

On Monday, he addressed about 40 media types that squeezed underneath a canopy near the Jets' practice field to hear him speak about everything from his grasp of coordinator Tony Sparano's offense to his off-day plans.

The players are off Tuesday, but Tebow doesn't expect to leave the Cortland State campus. Mindful of the attention he would draw in town, the Jets' backup quarterback figures he'll do a light workout, maybe throw some balls, watch practice tape, eat in the team cafeteria or order-in some dinner.

Tebow also has no plans to attend church services in town. He will participate in a team bible study.

And this is Cortland, pop. 19,000. Imagine when he returns to the New York area in two weeks.

Tebow admitted the intense scrutiny can be taxing at times.

"Sometimes it is, even when I just want to go watch a movie, 'The Dark Knight,' or something," he said. "It's just something you have to think about and plan for.

"It's not like I get frustrated doing it, it's just sometimes you just want to relax and be normal because that's how I view myself. Sometimes you'd just like to be able to do more normal stuff that you can't."

Tebow said it can get "a little comical," which was the case Saturday. He said he didn't see the pictures or video of his shirtless jog, but he heard about it from teammates, especially fellow quarterbacks Mark Sanchez and Greg McElroy.

"A few guys gave me a hard time, but honestly I don't think anybody knew about it until they saw it that night on ESPN," said Tebow, explaining that he removed his shirt because it felt like "20 pounds" after signing autographs in the rain.

Told that one version of the video was aired in slow-motion, accompanied by music, Tebow sighed, "Oh, boy."

Tebow fired back at Sanchez, razzing him about his GQ spread from last year.

"Tim reminded me I've had those kind of spreads already," Sanchez deadpanned, adding, "(There's) a time and a place."

After two poor practices, Tebow responded Monday with his best day of camp, completing four of five passes in team drills and electrifying the crowd with a 25-yard scramble. Nevertheless, he received an earful from Sparano on his lone incompletion, a deep post to Chaz Schilens that should've been a check-down throw.

Tebow said he feels comfortable with the base offense, adding that his main concerns are learning the run-checks and audibles at the line. Interestingly, they've yet to practice any plays out of the Wildcat package. That, Rex Ryan said, was the main reason why they traded for him.

Rich Cimini

ESPN New York Jets reporter

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