Tim Tebow does not think of himself as a backup quarterback.
No, the newest member of the New York Jets said at a Monday press conference that he is a football player first and that he will do whatever is necessary to help his new team, whether that involves running the wildcat package or taking over for Mark Sanchez if the incumbent starter struggles.
"Everybody that puts on a uniform wants to go out and play," Tebow said before a throng of media members at the Jets' headquarters in New Jersey. "Whatever my role is, I'm going to try to expand it. Whatever I can do... I'm going to help this team in any way possible."
Tebow's official introduction came without the Jets' hierarchy, as owner Woody Johnson, general manager Mike Tannenbaum and head coach Rex Ryan were all in Florida for NFL owners' meetings.
The surge of media forced the Jets to hold the press conference inside their practice facility, rather than the room regularly used for media briefings.
It seemed to be highly unusual for a team to have a press conference for a backup quarterback, but Tebow said it wasn't his idea.
"You can blame the guys upstairs [in the front office], they wanted me to do it," Tebow quipped.
Tebow spent last season with the Broncos but became available after Denver signed Peyton Manning as a free agent last week. The Jets then swung a deal that brought Tebow and a seventh-round draft pick from Denver in exchange for a fourth- and sixth-round pick in this year's draft.
Many have speculated that the Jets made the move for reasons beyond football, but Tebow doesn't see it that way.
"I think it has more to do with some coaches who believe in me and think I'm an okay football player who can add something to this organization," he noted.
The trade was initially held up by language in Tebow's contract, reportedly a dispute in compensation due to be paid to the former Heisman Trophy winner and first-round draft pick. It was then reported that Tebow had his choice of the Jets or his hometown team in Jacksonville.
Tebow said he didn't make the actual decision on where to go, but did say he had a "better relationship with the coaches" of the Jets. He said he knew Ryan because they share the same agent and said he previously worked with new offensive coordinator Tony Sparano when the former Miami Dolphins head coach was his coach at the Senior Bowl.
How he fits into the Jets system will be determined in the near future, although he never said the word backup during the more than 40-minute question and answer session.
"I'm a football player first, then a quarterback," Tebow remarked. "However I can help the team, however I can make a difference, I will give my whole heart to be the best Jet I can be and help this team win football games."
Sanchez, after helping the Jets to a pair of AFC championship games in his first two seasons, had a down year in 2011. There has been talk that Tebow was brought in to give Sanchez a spark.
"I think Mark is very secure as a football player and a person," Tebow said when asked if his presence would be an issue. "I don't think he's going to let outsiders affect the way he works."
He also stated there is no animosity between the two.
"The exciting thing is me and Mark have a great relationship," Tebow added. "We've been friends. We've talked already. We're going to have a great working relationship. We're going to have a lot of fun together."
Tebow helped the Broncos capture the AFC West last season at 8-8 -- the same record the Jets finished with in 2011 -- and also won a playoff game against Pittsburgh with an 80-yard touchdown pass to Demaryius Thomas on the first play of overtime.
Broncos vice president of football operations John Elway pronounced Tebow as Denver's starting quarterback entering training camp, but when Manning became available, it was goodbye Tebow.
"They went in a way that they thought was best for the organization. I wish the Broncos nothing but the best," Tebow said Monday. "They have one of the greatest quarterbacks to ever play the game. It will be exciting to watch and see what they do, but I'm excited to be a Jet and this is where I want to be."