“He was one of my all-time favorite teammates,” cornerback Champ Bailey told the Denver Post. “One of the best teammates I’ve ever had — just because of the way he handled everything. It’s not easy being him. Still not, obviously.
“He might not be able to stand back there and throw that ball like some, but he plays with a lot of heart. You can’t knock a guy who tries that hard and puts that much into it.”
Tebow drew just as much doubt for his quarterbacking abilities in Denver, but he won over his Broncos teammates when the team seemed to always find ways to win with Tebow under center. His leadership and attitude was lauded as Denver fought its way into a playoff spot and upset the Steelers in the first round of the postseason last year.
“If you’re within a score in the fourth quarter, he’d find a way,” receiver Eric Decker told the Denver Post.
Tebow’s defining characteristic was his optimism and team-building attitude.
“I’m not going to lie to you — he did rub off on people,” Bailey said. “He is an inspiring dude, and I think that’s why his fan base is so big. He’s passionate about everything he does.”
Decker said he had a respect for Tebow, even when the wins didn’t come “the most conventional way.” Because of that, “a lot of guys bought in and trusted more.”
That’s exactly what’s been missing with this Jets team, which doesn’t know where Tebow fits into the team’s plan as he continues to draw headlines while Mark Sanchez starts. But for some Broncos players, that’s no excuse to take shots at the plucky backup QB.
“I was disappointed that players would say something like that about him in public,” receiver Demaryius Thomas said. “Because he didn’t do anything to anybody. … It was sad when I heard about it.”
The Broncos were less forthright about the question everyone else has — where Tebow fits in going forward.