FOXBORO, Mass. — Tim Tebow signed with the Patriots on Tuesday and was out on the field, practicing with his new teammates during the first day of Patriots minicamp. Two of those teammates have experience playing with the Patriots’ new quarterback, and they seemed excited to have him back around.
Brandon Spikes and Aaron Hernandez played with Tebow in college at Florida, and now they’re being reunited with him in New England. Both players spoke glowingly about their newest teammate, and even mentioned that they didn’t see him being any type of distraction for the Patriots.
Spikes, who returned to the Patriots after an offseason away, was quick to note how glad he was to have his old friend back around.
“I was happy for him,” Spikes said of Tebow. “He got his job back or whatever and he come out here [to] compete. That’s good to see him smile – that big smile I’m used to seeing the last few years down in Florida.”
Hernandez, who was limited yet again at Tuesday’s practice, echoed some of Spikes sentiments about Tebow during his first meeting with the media this offseason. He admitted feeling a bit shocked when he first heard the news, but he sounded as happy as anyone to have the quarterback on his side again.
“Definitely it was a surprise for most of us,” Hernandez said. “Once I heard the information I was a little shocked and I was happy beause we had a long relationship in college. And it’s good to play with a college teammate again.
“He’s a football player. He knows how to make plays. I’m lucky to have him on my team again.”
Hernandez and Spikes won a national championship with Tebow during their 2008 season at Florida — the season after Tebow won his Heisman Trophy. Tebow received tons of media coverage then, and the polarizing quarterback gets even more now in the NFL.
There were more than 50 reporters and dozens of both local and national news outlets at Gillette Stadium for Tebow’s debut on Tuesday, but neither Spikes nor Hernandez sees the attention being a distraction for him or the team this season.
“He handled it well,” Spikes said of the media blitz at Florida. “I think he’s a great guy. He’s a winner. That’s all I pay attention to — the outside distraction stuff is not for me to decide.”
As for Hernandez, he’s been around the Patriots long enough at this point to know that even a polarizing figure like Tebow won’t alter the team’s focus.
“No, the media’s gonna be around,” Hernandez said. “If you let the media become a distraction, then that’s your fault. But having seen this program, we don’t let that happen. We just worry about playing football and take care of ourselves.”
Tebow seemed prepared to do just that already on his first day in New England, choosing not to answer questions from the media and instead giving a quick 32-second statement and getting out of dodge. That’s probably the last we’ll hear from Tebow until training camp, which should keep the media militia from invading Foxboro again for some time.
Now, it’s time for Tebow to focus on football, which is exactly what his teammates know he’s here to do.