|Tebow owns the media. Even in New York. (Getty Images)|
For more than 30 minutes on Monday, Tim Tebow stood in front of far too many members of the New York media, answered what felt like hundreds of questions, said more than 4,000 words and yet ... he said nothing.
Wait, that's not entirely accurate. Tebow said everything. But all of it was so well-designed in it's emptiness that he didn't just give the New York media any ammo. He absolutely disarmed them. And in doing so, Tebow proved once again that, despite his goofy smile, his innocent charm and his incredibly pleasant demeanor, he's an absolute master of handling the media.
This shouldn't be breaking news. Tebow's manhandled the media for a long time, dating back to his first BCS Championship at Florida and well on through the circus that was the Broncos in 2011. He's been asked, face-to-face, if he actually is a virgin (!) before. You think he's scared of a couple hundred people from competing organizations all looking to ask the same questions? Hell no. Er, sorry: heck no.
Ask him about the "media crush" too, if you want. He's not shocked by crowds, he's not shocked by the attention, and he's going to say nothing and maybe even make you laugh with a pithy little one-liner.
"It's an honor for all of you to show up to hear me say a few words today," Tebow said, asked about the media crush. "The reason we're doing this today is because I have bosses too and they wanted me to stand up and talk to all y'all too, so I can blame them, since they made me do it."
The difference with Tebow's jokes is that they aren't "real funny." They're "press conference funny." That's because he's too genuine and he doesn't come across as sly or wily or anything close to resembling a standup comedian. Instead, he sounds like a well-coached high-school senior who really is willing to try as hard as humanly possible to do his best. But it's not an act, though -- or at least 90 percent of it isn't. He's really that genuine. And it's why everyone caves when he does his thing at the podium.
Reading between the lines, Tebow does answer questions and you can see his motivations. But you can't actually quote him on that, because it's only an interpretation.
To wit: Tebow was asked Monday if he wanted to be a starter in New York -- which is the same thing as asking him if he wants to force Mark Sanchez to the bench on a full-time basis -- Tebow said no, of course he doesn't. Except he does (emphasis mine).
"I think everyone who puts on a uniform you want to go out there and you want to play," Tebow said. "That's why you play the game of football. And that's why I'm excited to be a Jet, to go out there and help this team in any way I can. Whatever my role is and however I can expand that role, yeah, I'm going to try to do that."
See what he did there? He slung another platitude relating to being a football player and trying hard and used the word "excited" (he used it so much Monday he's going to owe the Pointer Sisters royalties) and didn't say anything at all.
And yet ... he did. He said he wants to "expand [his] role" with the Jets. The only real expansion for Tebow is taking over Sanchez' job. Tebow did the same thing when discussing the trade from the Broncos to the Jets, essentially admitting that he was given a choice to head to New York but never saying "I picked New York" and also saying he appreciated John Elway giving him input into his next destination.
It was, frankly, masterful. Just like the rest of Tebow's press conference. ("Tim, Pat Robertson thinks the Broncos will burn in hell for casting you aside ..." "Well, I wish the Broncos nothing but the best ...") And just like every single Tebow press conference before it. And just like every single Tebow press conference you'll see after this.
Tebow stood up at the podium in front of more than 200 credentialed media members, looked them in their collective frothing mouths, spoke open and honestly and absolutely deflated the sarcastic, story-seeking balloon that followed the press inside Florham Park.
And unlike most of Tebow's on-field victories, his press conference win didn't even resemble a close call. It was a decisive beatdown and just more proof as to why the world's obsessed with the little quarterback who could.