FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – Tim Tebow said he understood why the question was being asked.
“That’s part of doing your job,” said Tebow to the reporter who asked if he was shocked by the allegations and charges against Aaron Hernandez, his former teammate at the University of Florida who now sits in a nearby prison cell, charged with murder.
But, Tebow continued, “Part of (my job) is listening to instructions.”
And he said he had been instructed not to comment on anyone involved in any ongoing legal investigations.
But Tebow did offer this up regarding Hernandez, the former New England Patriot tight end:
“It was heartbreaking and it was sad and all my thoughts and prayers go out to all the families that are involved.”
Tebow, signed by the Patriots on June 11 after he was released by the New York Jets, is a young man of great faith. Asked if that faith could help the team heal from the Hernandez situation, he said he couldn’t speak for anyone else.
“But for me it plays a part in everything I do in life, everything that I have to handle in life,” he said. “It’s not only a part of me, it’s who I am. And it’s the biggest part of me.”
And it’s part of what makes him such a polarizing figure.
You either love Tebow, 25, or you hate him. You either think he’s the consummate winner or you think he’s one of the worst quarterbacks in NFL history. You either praise him for being forthright in his faith in God, or you tear him down for it.
The Patriots certainly see something in him. They brought him in to compete for the back-up quarterback job to Tom Brady with Ryan Mallett.
Or maybe they brought him in to be an H-back, or tight end. As Coach Bill Belichick said Friday before the team held its first practice of training camp at Gillette Stadium, “I think that we’ll use Tim wherever we feel like he’s best for the team and I know that’s what he’s committed to doing as well, whatever that is.”
Tebow, while stressing that he has only been in the quarterback room so far, said as much himself.
“I just do what I’m told and work as hard as I possibly can to do the best job I can whatever I’m asked to do,” he said.
Having Josh McDaniels, who drafted Tebow 25th overall in the first round in 2010 when he was the Denver coach, on board as offensive coordinator certainly is a plus for Tebow.
McDaniels knows — and believes in — Tebow better than anyone.
But there are flaws in Tebow’s game, many of which were displayed Friday.
While he displayed a strong arm, he threw two interceptions in the 11-on-11 passing drills and generally did not throw the ball well. That’s never been his strength.
But he’s always been a playmaker and once broke loose for a long run in the drill, drawing huge cheers from the 6,390 soaked fans who filled the practice field bleachers and hill.
“I felt good out there, I felt I made some good decisions,” said Tebow.
“I’ve got to keep improving every single day. We’ll go in, watch the film and we’ll get better from it.”
He also participated in a couple of drills with the tight ends where he caught some passes.
“Just doing what I’m asked,” he said.
He’s simply glad to be on the field, coming off a lost year with the New York Jets, who traded for Tebow last year after Denver acquired Peyton Manning. It was a bad fit from the first day. Tebow saw limited action, threw eight passes all season and was cut by the Jets after they drafted quarterback Geno Smith.
“I feel in every situation there’s a learning opportunity in life,” he said. “Not only in football but everything you do in life. There’s ups, there’s downs, there’s learning opportunities, there’s praise, there’s criticism. You’ve got to learn to handle everything.”
Right now, he said, he’s just trying to learn how to be a New England Patriot. He’s thrilled to have the chance to learn from Brady.
“He’s one of the best all time and you get to watch him, sit in the meetings and talk to him, come out here and train together,” said Tebow.
“You pick up a lot of good things, a lot of good traits.
“I feel we have a good relationship. I feel we’ve had a good relationship the last few years playing against each other, talking here and there. But I feel it can obviously grow being on the same team.”
As the interview ended, Tebow was asked about his future, if this was his last chance to prove he could be an NFL quarterback.
“I’m focused on today, getting better today, not anything that’s going to happen down the road, but today,” he said. “As a football player, as a competitor you’ve got to have that attitude.”
He already sounds as if he’s been a Patriot for years.
Mike Lowe can be contacted at 791-6422 or at: