Like millions of football fans, Tim Tebow caught a few training camp glimpses of the New York Jets during the summer of 2010 on HBO's Hard Knocks.
He developed a liking for a central character of the series, foul-mouthed coach Rex Ryan -- suddenly a key figure in the reality show that is Tebow's career.
"Coach Ryan, I'd love to play for him," Tebow said during a near-midnight Wednesday conference call after being traded from the Denver Broncos. "Ever since I saw Hard Knocks, it just seemed like he is a coach that loves the game of football and is passionate about the game.
"He's definitely a player's coach. I love that about him."
The relationship that develops between Tebow and Ryan is one of many intriguing subplots of the Jets' stunning acquisition of the magnetic young quarterback. On the surface, Tebow and Ryan are walking contrasts.
Tebow is a devout Christian, a praying man with a clean-cut image. He always is armed with positive, politically correct responses. Several times during his conference call, he spoke of doing what's best for the team. Even if -- weeks after guiding the Broncos to a first-round playoff victory -- he will be brought to town as a backup and situational role player in Wildcat formation packages.
Ryan, on the other hand, curses and has been reprimanded for flashing an obscene gesture at a fan. He is liable to say anything -- like guaranteeing a Super Bowl crown -- when the cameras are rolling.
No matter. Tebow sees common ground, figuring they will connect through their shared passion for the game. From Hard Knocks, he gained an appreciation for the manner in which Ryan goes to bat for his players.
"He has their back and all that," Tebow said.
And the cursing? He laughed.
"Anywhere you go, you're not going to have the cleanest language in an NFL locker room," Tebow said. "So I'm not too worried about that."
How Tebow coexists with Mark Sanchez also bears watching. Of course, you won't get a hint of discord coming from Tebow, whose legion of fans undoubtedly will lobby on his behalf while intense Big Apple scrutiny handles the rest. Tebow says he is comfortable with the role that Ryan and general manager Mike Tannenbaum have outlined. He doesn't see himself competing for Sanchez's job.
"We're both extreme competitors," he says. "I think we should be able to push each other to get a lot better. We'll have a great working relationship. He's such a classy guy."
Sanchez called Tebow on Wednesday amid all of the drama when completion of the deal stalled for about eight hours.
"We had a great conversation," Tebow said. "We've been blessed to get to know each other over the past few years. Definitely have a lot of respect for him."
Tebow said he didn't have any input in selecting the Jets over his hometown Jacksonville Jaguars as the Broncos discussed trades with both teams.
"Ultimately, I didn't have any (input)," he said. "The Broncos had all that power."
Tebow leaves Denver without hard feelings. After revitalizing the Broncos last season, he became an example of how quickly fortunes can change. A day after Peyton Manning signed, Tebow Time expired in Denver.
"I understand what the Broncos are doing, what they're dealing with," Tebow said. "Not many times do you have the opportunity to sign someone like Peyton Manning. What a great quarterback he is. One of the best to ever play the game.
"I had a great run. Last season was very special. But that time is over and done. I'm looking forward to a new chapter in my life."
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