FLORHAM PARK, N.J.
Say whatever you like about Tim Tebow as a quarterback, but when it comes to dealing with criticism, there may be no better person on the planet.
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Tebow was the subject of scathing remarks, most of them anonymous, by people in the Jets' organization in a story in Wednesday's's Daily News. They ranged from "He's terrible" by a defensive starter to being labeled just "an athlete" by guard Matt Slauson, the only player named.
But while acknowledging "frustration" and "sadness," Tebow showed remarkable composure and understanding, putting on a clinic for how you turn a bad situation into a life lesson.
Look, no one likes to be criticized, and Tebow is no different. It stings to see such remarks, especially anonymous ones. But pay attention to Tebow's reaction, because it might come in handy when you're dealing with other difficult circumstances.
"I just try to set the best example I can with my actions, my words, how I go about carrying myself," he said. "You can't control a lot of things. This is something I can't control, but I can control my attitude, my effort, my work ethic, and those are things that will never change [regardless of] what anyone says."
Tebow heard of the article when he got to the training complex early Wednesday, and acknowledged some disappointment. Even though he is hardly the biggest reason the Jets are 3-6 and seemingly heading nowhere, he is one of their most discussed and scrutinized players. Anything he says or does, or is said about him, often is magnified to ridiculous proportions.
Brought in to run the Wildcat package and serve as a punt protector, Tebow has thrown only six passes and run only 27 times in what might better be described as the "Mildcat." Yet even with such limited work, several defenders -- some of whom presumably were Jets when Tebow beat them last season -- piled on by doubting his ability to take over for Mark Sanchez. Tebow's "turn the other cheek" reaction was impressive.
"I've had it somewhat my whole life playing football, so you try to do your best at handling it and understanding," he said. "You just try to make it motivate you, but at the same time, it always has somewhat of an effect on you. You're human. It's not always fun to have people say negative things about you, but you try to be stronger from it, and it always has made me stronger in the past and it will continue to make me stronger."
Does he wonder about who might have made the remarks?
"That's not who I am," he said. "I'm more secure in who I am as a person, as a football player, than that to look and wonder why."
And what about the guy whose remarks were attached to his name? Tebow said he and Slauson talked it out in the trainer's room before practice. Slauson said he made them so long ago he didn't even remember. "It could have been Week 1, could have been training camp," Slauson said.
"I've always thought Tim was a great player. I never said he wasn't a great player. He's a great dude. I really enjoy having him on the team. He's one of the hardest-working guys on the team and I love having him. I love Tim. Great dude."
Asked about Slauson's saying his comments were made a while back, Tebow said, "That's why we were laughing about it. He's an awesome guy. We have a great relationship. He's someone you love having on your team. We're close friends, so it wasn't even a big deal."
Even his closing remarks to reporters were an indication of how deftly he's handled the situation. When asked, "Where do you go from here?" Tebow said: "Where do I go from here? I go to a special-teams meeting."
"Life can be complicated and that's why I try to simplify," he said. "I try to be the best person I can be. I try to get better every single day. I try to be a great teammate. I try to improve and ultimately try to make a difference in people's lives."
Words to live by from a man who may not have everything you want as a quarterback, but is about as good as you'll find when it comes to keeping it all in perspective.