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ESPN backs off Tim Tebow coverage

Jets quarterback Tim Tebow talks to the media

Jets quarterback Tim Tebow talks to the media after the team's offseason workout at their practice facility in Florham Park, N.J. (May 10, 2012) Credit: Joe Epstein

Tim Tebow has faded into near invisibility on the football field. Now it appears the Jets’ backup quarterback will fade from view even on the television network that has followed him most obsessively.

Sports Business Journal reported Monday that ESPN president John Skipper recently told producers to back off on a network-wide fixation with Tebow that for months has drawn criticism both inside and outside the company.

“I said, ‘Guys, we didn't handle this very well,'" Skipper told the Journal, which this week placed him No. 1 on its list of the 50 most influential people in sports business. “Going to training camp [for live reports] wasn't a problem. We just stayed on it relentlessly and too long."

Skipper said he was especially troubled by a comment from former ESPN analyst Doug Gottlieb, who in October said on “The Dan Patrick Show’’ that he had been told specifically, “You can’t talk enough Tebow.’’

Skipper said he “hated’’ that quote because it suggested a short-sighted approach.

“We all know that if you focus on the Tebow story, for the next 10 minutes you're going to do better [in ratings],’’ he said. “But the question is trying to take a long-term perspective and saying, 'Guys, let's not get overexcited about one story and hyping it.'"

New York Sports