FOUR Tebow BITS: Elway, book, support, Vatican

1 » Interviewed Thursday on the Boomer & Carton radio program up in New York, Denver Broncos executive vice president of football operations John Elway spoke at length about quarterback Tim Tebow and his NFL career. Asked first if he thought Tebow could succeed in the league long-term, Elway admitted that it was a possibility. “I think in the right situation – he wants to and his drive to play and that’s what he wants to do – in the right situation, I think it’s a possibility. He’s got to be in the right situation,” he said. Furthermore, Elway addressed Tebow’s immense fan support and said that he had to push that aside when deciding what was best for Denver going forward. “Tim has a loyal fan base behind him. It’s a lot of people that really want to see him,” he said. “I think Tim Tebow has a lot of fans. … I went with what was best for the Denver Broncos, and Peyton Manning was best for the Denver Broncos.”

Elway was also asked about the report that the Broncos gave Tebow the option to choose his trade destination. He confirmed that the situation was reported accurately but also praised Tebow for what he did during his time in Denver. “We had two options – Jacksonville or the Jets. We laid it out to time and said, ‘It’s up to you.’ I’m not going to tell you which deal I liked better, but I will tell you that we did give him the option. He ended up picking the Jets, thinking that was the best opportunity for him,” Elway said. “As I’ve said about Tim, he’s a good kid and he works his tail off. He did a lot of good things for us in 2011. We were 1-4; when he came in, we won seven out of eight games after that, won a playoff game. So, he did a lot of good things for us.”

2 » The Nielsen Company this week released “State of the Media: 2012 Year in Sports” which, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, included plenty of mentions of Tebow. Per the Nielsen list, Tebow had the best-selling sports biography of the year with his “Through My Eyes” selling 116,000 copies (not including sales through Wal-Mart) or more than three times the next person on the list (R.A. Dickey – 39,600 copies). Tebow also checked in with an N-Score (endorsement potential rating) of No. 4 among mothers and No. 2 among people 65 years of age or older.

3 » It’s always interesting to see which random athletes support Tebow. Enter Philadelphia 76ers point guard Jrue Holiday, who told 94WIP radio in Philadelphia, PA that he is a big fan of the player. “I mean, how can you not [like him] though? His trophies. I guess everybody says he’s not a quarterback, but when he’s played quarterback even for the Broncos, he’s won games which is all that matters,” Holiday said. “I don’t know man, it’s about winning games right? I’m not saying skill-wise he’s the best one, but he got the wins. Well, he used to get the wins.”

4 » According to the Catholic News Service, the Vatican has asked Tebow and Houston Rockets point guard Jeremy Lin to appear at a sports conference with the hope of encouraging athletes to compete in a moral manner. The sports conference, titled “We Believe in Sports,” is being put together by the Pontifical Council for Culture. “We want to work with the big sports bodies to give new value to sports,” Monsignor Melchor Sanchez de Toca Alameda said. “[We want] to help put healthy values back into sport and counteract the current market logic, because if the current state of affairs continues, all is lost.” As noted by the Christian News Network, neither athlete has yet to accept the invitation and it is unknown if either will as “some Christians refuse to work with the Vatican because they believe that its traditions and teachings are unBiblical.”

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FOUR BITS: Quinn, Tebow, bowls, Fisch

1 » According to ESPN insider Adam Schefter, defensive coordinator Dan Quinn’s new contract with the Seattle Seahawks is for three years and $5.7 million, or approximately $1.9 million per season. Quinn was set to earn just over $500,000 with the Florida Gators in 2013 though he likely would have received a raise.

2 » It has long been known that quarterback Tim Tebow will not be with the New York Jets next season. Even with that being the case, everyone involved with the decision to bring him in continues to do whatever is in their power to distance themselves from him. According to ESPNNewYork.com, team owner Woody Johnson – who fawned over Tebow when the franchise first acquired him from Denver – is the latest to pull this maneuver. He reportedly told former Broncos general manager Ted Sundquist, who interviewed for the Jets vacancy, that the trade was “forced” on him and that he only “jumped on board” after the football personnel department convinced him it was a good idea. “They realized it was divisive and hard on the locker room, and they wanted an exit strategy,” he said.

3 » Former Florida safety Josh Evans and kicker Caleb Sturgis competed in the 2013 East-West Shrine Game over the weekend. Evans played sparingly on defense and special teams, but Sturgis accounted for seven of the East’s 13 points in the 28-13 loss as he connected on an extra point as well as field goals from 48 yards and 38 yards. Linebacker Lerentee McCray was invited to the game but chose not to participate as he continues to heal from the 2012 season. Similarly, LB Jon Bostic pulled out of the 2013 Senior Bowl set for Saturday at 4 p.m. Running back Mike Gillislee and left tackle Xavier Nixon will be the only two Gators participating in the game.

4 » Though two former Florida players have already lost their NFL head coaching gigs this offseason, another person with ties to the Gators has picked up a new job. Jedd Fisch, a graduate assistant at Florida from 1999-2000, was named the offensive coordinator of the Jacksonville Jaguars on Saturday. Fisch has been coaching since starting out in the high school ranks in 1997 and was most recently the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at Miami (FL).

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“Strong possibility” Dan Quinn leaves for Seattle

UPDATE: Dan Quinn leaves Florida for Seattle Seahawks

Could the Florida Gators be in line for their sixth new coordinator in five seasons?

On Thursday, Seattle Seahawks defensive coordinator Gus Bradley was hired as the new head coach of the Jacksonville Jaguars. Immediately thereafter, Florida defensive coordinator Dan Quinn’s name popped up both as a potential replacement for Bradley in Seattle or as his hire for defensive coordinator in Jacksonville.

According to ESPN insider Adam Schefter, “there is a ‘strong possibility’” that Quinn “will return to Seattle to replace Gus Bradley.” He also noted via Twitter that the Cleveland Browns and Philadelphia Eagles are interested in Quinn.

One year ago, after a season in which he led the Gators to a top-10 defense in his first year at the helm, Quinn reportedly turned down an offer to coordinate the Tampa Bay Buccaneers‘ defense after Greg Schiano was hired as head coach.

Continue Reading » “Strong possibility” Dan Quinn leaves for Seattle

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Jaguars GM “can’t imagine” acquiring Tim Tebow

Despite reports to the contrary at the conclusion of the 2012 regular season, new Jacksonville Jaguars general manager David Caldwell all but slammed the door shut on quarterback Tim Tebow joining the team next season.

“As far as Tim goes, he is a member of the New York Jets. I can’t imagine a scenario where he would be a Jacksonville Jaguar,” Caldwell said Thursday in his introductory press conference, affirming moments later that would remain the case should he be a free agent. “I can’t imagine a scenario where he would be a Jacksonville Jaguar…even if he’s released,” he added. [Video]

ESPN’s Chris Mortensen reported on Dec. 23, 2012 that it was a “virtual certainty” Tebow would wind up playing for Jacksonville in 2013.

One day later, NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport released a similar report, stating emphatically that Tebow “will be a Jaguar” in 2013 and that the team would even consider trading for him in order to assure that they acquire his services.

Though neither Mortensen nor Rapoport’s reports were linked to Jaguars owner Shahid Khan, he stated one year ago that he would have had no problem trading for Tebow and would have “absolutely” drafted Tebow if he was owner of the team back in 2010.

It now appears as if Khan has decided (or Caldwell has convinced his owner) to forget about acquiring Tebow this season despite the fact that Jacksonville will have an open competition at quarterback.

With NFL starting jobs now likely off the table for 2013, the Tebow watch now centers on whether any team will even give him an opportunity to compete for a back-up role should he be released from his contract with the Jets as expected.

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FOUR Tebow BITS: Support, video, blame, waive

1 » In the wake of reports that raised questions about New York Jets quarterback Tim Tebow‘s character, two former Florida Gators student-athletes and a Hollywood celebrity have come out in support of the signal caller. Former teammate now Miami Dolphins center Mike Pouncey yelled out “Free Tebow” when he left the team’s locker room on Wednesday. Pittsburgh Steelers tackle Marcus Gilbert and former defensive back Dorian Munroe both tweeted “#FreeTebow” on Thursday afternoon. Houston Rockets forward Chandler Parsons delivered the same sentiment via his Twitter account. Additionally, Hollywood actor Josh Duhamel, best known for his roles in the Transformers movies and on the television program Las Vegas, yelled at ESPN analyst Merril Hoge on Twitter.

2 » Next Media Animation also centered its latest release around Tebow and head coach Rex Ryan sabotaging his NFL career.

3 » ESPNNewYork.com columnist Ian O’Connor took it to the Jets in a big way on Thursday, saying that the blame for this situation begins and ends with the coaching staff and not Tebow himself. “But in assessing Tebow’s grisly one-and-done with the Jets … this much is clear: Rex and his offensive coordinator, Tony Sparano, are far more to blame than tiny Tim himself.” He continued, “Ryan and Sparano never had any idea how to use Tebow, and they ultimately provided him with workplace conditions unhealthy enough to turn the sport’s ultimate good guy – an athlete with an even cleaner image than [Derek] Jeter’s – into a me-centric whiner who landed in Rex’s office last week to tell his boss to take his job and shove it. Sort of.” O’Connor also blamed Urban Meyer for failing Tebow and not spending “more time fixing the kid’s windup delivery” but said that Tebow “should have been a useful hybrid player when Sanchez was going OK, and he should’ve been the permanent replacement when Sanchez was not.”

4 » USA Today columnist Mike Garafolo, also taking Tebow’s side in this situation, believes that New York should have cut the player loose days ago for his own good. “Here’s all you need to know about how badly things are mismanaged, misrepresented and miscommunicated inside the walls of the New York Jets’ facility: They got Tim Tebow to snap. And now, they need to let him go,” he wrote. Garafolo breaks down how the Jets have wasted a year of Tebow’s career and should at least give him the ability to be picked up via waivers by his likely new team, the Jacksonville Jaguars, which are second in waiver priority. “Let him get to the facility, start working with the organization, get used to the playbook … and end this season with a smile on his face. … All Tebow wants is a chance to play. Second on that list would be some clarity.”

Extra BIT » Greg McElroy, New York’s third-stringer who replaced starter Mark Sanchez and leapfrogged Tebow for that opportunity, was injured in last week’s game. Ryan said Thursday that he woke up in the morning with bad headaches, so he has decided to return Sanchez to the starting role. “Obviously Tim’s not happy with that [decision],” Ryan said in a press conference.

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Tim Tebow clears air, admonishes critics like Hoge

New York Jets quarterback Tim Tebow, infuriated over holiday weekend reports that “opted out” of playing the Wildcat in a conversation with head coach Rex Ryan last Tuesday, disputed those reports, stood up for himself and defended his character when he spoke with the New York media on Wednesday.

“I never said, ‘Hey, I don’t want to do anything. I won’t do anything,’” explained Tebow, according to the New York Daily News. “That wasn’t the talk at all. [Ryan] knows that. And everybody on this team knows that I would never not to do something if I was asked. That’s what’s disappointing. People saying, ‘Oh, you quit.’ or ‘You didn’t do this.’ That was not it at all. It was just me asking to get an opportunity to play the position I love, which is quarterback. It wasn’t me asking out of anything.”

Tebow claims that either Ryan, or those the coach relayed the conversation to, misunderstood the message that he was trying to send, which was that he wanted to play “regular quarterback” and wanted to do more than continue “running up the middle” as he had been in the Wildcat plays called for him. As he told ESPN‘s Adam Schefter over the weekend, his frustration and disappointment was built up over the entire season and came to a head when Ryan decided to replace Mark Sanchez with third-stringer Greg McElroy. Tebow was under the impression that he, as the back-up, was in line to replace Sanchez.

A team-first player all season long who saw the field as a punt protector, H-back, fullback, wide receiver, tight end and seldom-used Wildcat player, Tebow wanted to do more than run straight into the offensive line, which was the extent of most of his plays this season. He hoped for the opportunity to see all three downs when he was substituted into the game and play real quarterback at some point during the year.

“I was definitely disappointed and frustrated and I let him know that,” he said. “Just asked for an opportunity to play quarterback. [On Friday, I told him that] I would do anything for this team like I have all year from punt to hands team to catching passes … whatever I could do. He appreciated that. He understood.”

What appears to have bothered Tebow even more than Ryan’s decision last week is how his character has been attacked by the media that jumped on the original report from ESPNNewYork.com and have been calling him everything from a quitter and saying he is as “phony as a three-dollar bill.”

Continue Reading » Tim Tebow clears air, admonishes critics like Hoge

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Reports: Jaguars ready to link up with Tim Tebow

Updated on Sunday at 11:30 a.m.

As it is clear that quarterback Tim Tebow will no longer be a member of the New York Jets come 2013, ESPN’s Chris Mortensen reported Saturday that “league sources say it is a virtual certainty” the former Florida Gators star “will land a job back home with the Jacksonville Jaguars.”

Tebow, with one year left on his rookie contract, reportedly plans to request a trade or outright release at the end of the season, a move that the Jets will undoubtedly honor as the team no longer wishes to have him on its roster.

The door would then be open for Tebow to join his hometown Jaguars, which were also involved in trade discussions for him this past offseason.

UPDATE: On Sunday, NFL.com‘s Ian Rapoport reported similar details, noting that a team source conceded Tebow “will be a Jaguar” in 2013. He also said a trade is possible if Jacksonville wants to ensure it acquires him; the compensation would be “peanuts” and not anything significant.

Rapoport’s news is coming directly from the Jaguars, not Tebow’s contingent. He also points out that the jobs of the head coach and general manager are in jeopardy, but Tebow’s acquisition would occur regardless of who is running the team from the front office.

After acquiring future Hall of Fame signal caller Peyton Manning, the Denver Broncos fielded calls for Tebow and got high levels of interest from New York and Jacksonville. Each team offered a fourth-round pick and $3 million for an advance that had already been paid to Tebow, prompting Denver to give him the ability to choose his new home.

Tebow ultimately picked the Jets because conversations with the team’s executives and coaching staff led him to believe he would have a better opportunity to play right away and potentially win the starting quarterback job down the road. Instead, he barely saw the field in 2012 and was passed over this week when head coach Rex Ryan chose to bench Mark Sanchez and start third-stringer Greg McElroy in his place.

The Jaguars’ interest in Tebow is two-fold. In addition to being an extremely popular hometown hero whose presence would help fill the EverBank Field and bring life to a down franchise, Tebow could also compete for the starting job with 2011 first-round draft choice Blaine Gabbert and veteran Chad Henne.

Continue Reading » Reports: Jaguars ready to link up with Tim Tebow

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FOUR BITS: NCAA, volleyball, Mularkey, Dillman

1 » The NCAA on Tuesday chose to recognize some of the top players and teams that have participated in NCAA Tournaments, as well as many of the top moments to occur in those events, over the last 75 years. The organization picked the 2006-07 incarnation of the Florida Gators as one of the top-25 teams and also recognized center Joakim Noah as one of the top-75 players ever to participate in the tournament. Noah was named Most Outstanding Player of the 2006 tourney after he registered a then-record 29 blocked shots in the event and averaged 13.5 points and 9.5 rebounds. Both Noah and the 2006-07 UF team are finalists in their respective categories, which will be voted on before awards are presented at the 2013 NCAA Final Four in Atlanta, GA.

2 » Florida junior middle back Chloe Mann, who put together an impressive 2012 campaign for a Gators volleyball program that exceeded its preseason expectations, was named a First Team All-American by the American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) on Wednesday. Mann was honored along with outside hitter Ziva Recek, who was named Freshman of the Year by the organization. Florida as a team lasted until the Sweet 16 round of the NCAA Tournament where it fell to three-seed Texas. The Gators concluded the season with a 27-5 record and their first SEC Championship since 2010.

3 » Former Florida tight end Mike Mularkey, now head coach of the Jacksonville Jaguars, was hospitalized on Monday on the advice of a team trainer after feeling ill at his team’s facility. He was released shortly after being admitted and was healthy enough to return to practice on Tuesday. Mularkey’s first year with Jacksonville has been anything but productive as the Jaguars are currently 2-11 and have lost nine of their last 10 games. This is his second NFL head coaching stint as he previously led the Buffalo Bills to a 14-18 combined record from 2004-05.

4 » As much as head coach Will Muschamp has been credited with turning around the Gators football program, strength and conditioning coach Jeff Dillman is in many ways equally deserving of praise. Dilliman recently sat down with his hometown paper, the Richmond County Daily Journal, and discussed both how he arrived at Florida and what he thinks of what the team has accomplished this season. Throughout the year, Dillman received plenty of credit for the team’s performance against LSU and how it stood up to the long season from a conditioning perspective. In the interview, he turned around and put the praise back on Muschamp for how the team was run this year. “At the end of the day, it’s the program,” he said. “It goes back to Coach Muschamp and the kids because they worked their butts off. We all have a job to do and Coach Muschamp lets me do my job. All the kids come in and believe in what we are trying to accomplish. Coach is big on keeping it real. My staff and I will be honest with a player, but we also want to keep a positive environment. I have a philosophy of actions trigger feelings and feelings trigger actions. Good things come out of being positive and negative things come out of being negative. I always try to be positive while training an athlete.”

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