Tebow stays level-headed under major spotlight

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Tebow stays level-headed under major spotlight

FOXBORO -- Tim Tebow isn't changing for anybody.

Entering Sunday's game against the Patriots, opinions -- positive and negative -- about the way the Denver Broncos quarterback carries himself and his religion have been heard from just about anyone who has knowledge of the NFL.

Even those who aren't fans of the sport have weighed in. So his impact has been made.

But the bigger story may be the way that Tebow has handled all of the criticism.

"It says a lot about him," said Broncos coach John Fox in Wednesday's conference call. "The criticism all hasn't been good, that's for sure. And I think he's handled it as well as anybody I've ever been around."

From his publicly displayed religious beliefs, to his quarterbacking style, Fox is right. Not much of it has been good. But Tebow finds a way to ignore most of the noise, mainly because it's out of his control.

"I've honestly done my best to try to just stay clear of it, and not pay too much attention, and not listen to too much of it," said Tebow on Wednesday. "It's obviously hard. It's hard to get that far away from it. But something I learned when I was pretty young at Florida, was not to worry about what I can't control. And that's something that I can't control.

"So I think my biggest focus is every day, trying to be the best teammate, trying to honor the Lord with how I play and how I live, and trying to work to be a better quarterback, a better teammate, be focused, and have a great attitude. That's really been my outlook on everything, and not necessarily what people are saying about me. And I thank the Lord that I don't have to live the roller coaster that other people say about my life."

So as critics speak about his faith, Tebow uses that faith to block out the naysayers. But when asked if his faith has gotten stronger, in the face of the largest amount of adversity he's ever faced in the game of football, Tebow admitted that it was the first time that question had been asked.

"I'm not sure," said Tebow. "I hope so. I pray that it is. Because I think that whatever you're going through in your life, you continue to grow as a person in your faith, and for me as a Christian, trying to grow closer to the Lord, and continuing to try to strengthen my faith. And one way you definitely strengthen your faith is through obstacles, through adversity, and there's definitely been some of that. So that definitely strengthens your faith.

"And then also something that strengthens your faith is sometimes when you have praise or things go good, how you handle it. And I think for me, one of my biggest prayers is, win or lose, good or bad, I'm the same guy. I honor the Lord either way. I treat people the exact same. And I'm not changing, no matter what happens. I think that's one of my biggest prayers."

Steelers descending into disarray?

Steelers descending into disarray?

Less than 48 hours removed from openly wondering if the AFC Championship Game stage was “too big” for some of his young teammates, Ben Roethlisberger has decided to play the latter-day Hamlet/Brett Favre game.

Speaking on Pittsburgh’s 93.7 The Fan on Tuesday, Roethlisberger hinted at retirement.

“I’m going to take this offseason to evaluate, to consider all options,” Roethlisberger said. “To consider health, and family and things like that and just kind of take some time away to evaluate next season, if there’s going to be a next season. All those things. I think at this point in my career, at my age, that’s the prudent and smart thing to do every year.”

The soon-to-be-35-year-old Roethlisberger is a likely Hall of Famer who’s still arguably one of the top five quarterbacks in the NFL. But for whatever reason, he’s got an insatiable need for people to register concern about his status. Whether it be limping around the field, lamenting injuries or this, few quarterbacks in the league go through the same histrionics Roethlisberger does in order to get those, “Attaboy, Ben!” backslaps.

I remember being at Steelers training camp in 2009 in Latrobe, Pennsylvania, and having veteran Steelers writers roll their eyes as Roethlisberger started hopping around like he was on hot coals after a throw. The quarterback having an owie act was a daily tradition.

Roethlisberger’s also got a passive aggressive side in which he’ll deftly twist the knife on coaches and teammates but leave himself enough room for plausible deniability.

In addition to openly wondering if his young teammates took the AFC Championship Game seriously enough, Roethlisberger gave the “just running the plays as I’m told” answer when asked about the Steelers resistance to running a quarterback sneak when they were at the Patriots goal line before halftime. Roethlisberger could have taken offensive coordinator Todd Haley off the hook there – he’s lobbied for Haley to get a head coaching shot after the two had a bad relationship when Haley arrived. But he opted not to.

Similarly, earlier this year, Roethlisberger’s critiques of the way head coach Mike Tomlin was running the team were aired. 

So, this could be part of a Roethlisberger power play aimed at the Steelers bowing to his wishes.

That wasn’t the only tidbit from Pittsburgh that looked bad for the AFC finalists. Linebacker Bud Dupree said the Steelers were surprised by the Patriots using an up-tempo offense earlier in the game. 

Do they not have electricity or internet access in the Steelers facility? Up-tempo is a staple part of the Patriots offensive diet. You can see it on the television or the internet through your smart phone.

While there’s no doubt that defensive coordinator Keith Butler – and defensive minded head coach Tomlin – were aware and talked about the Patriots going no-huddle, the fact Dupree (and his teammates) were unable to recall the preparation or adequately fall into an emergency plan to address it does fall on the coaches.

Need more? It’s also being leaked out of the building that Antonio Brown cares too much about his statistics. He made clear last week how much he cares about advancing his personal brand at the expense of Tomlin and the team with his Facebook Live video. 

If there’s an upside for anyone in all this, it would have to be Joey Porter. Nobody’s even talking about his off-field fracas anymore.

As this season ably demonstrated, the Patriots have plum run out of authentic rivals in the AFC. That the team they just pulverized is steamrolling into an offseason of dysfunction and uncertainty isn't good if you like parity. But it's terrific if you couldn't care less.