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Tim Tebow weighs in on his hire at ESPN, his NFL future; more

Photo: David Bergman/SI

Tim Tebow will make his ESPN debut during the network's coverage of the BCS title game on Jan. 6.

ESPN held a conference call on Tuesday with new employee Tim Tebow, a media session that lasted 25 minutes and 18 seconds, or approximately 5,000 fewer hours than the network has spoken about Tebow over the past two years. The network announced on Monday that it had formally reached an agreement with Tebow to serve as a college football analyst for the upcoming SEC Network. Tebow's primary role will be as an analyst for SEC Nation, a Saturday morning pregame show that will travel to different SEC campuses each week. In the months leading up to the launch of SEC Nation on Aug. 28, ESPN said Tebow will also contribute to a variety of ESPN platforms, including SportsCenter, ESPN Radio and the network's Heisman Trophy coverage. The former Florida quarterback will make his debut during coverage of the BCS title game on Jan. 6.

For those seeking an instant broadcasting take, Tebow is a super-nice kid, stays on script like Daniel Day-Lewis and will not be a critical analyst in any shape or form, at least not initially. Some highlights from the conference call:

On his future as a professional quarterback: "I know I have said this quote a lot: I don't know what the future holds, but I know who holds my future. I'm not sure what's ahead of me. I'm very excited to have this opportunity at ESPN, and who knows what the next few months will hold? I'll continue train to be the best quarterback that I can be. I have been training very hard over the course of the last few months, five days a week and I feel like I'm the best that I've ever been as a quarterback right now and I hope I get the opportunity to show that. But I'm also looking forward to being a part of SEC Nation and being a part of ESPN."

On whether his work with ESPN will impact his training to play quarterback: "Well, I don't think it will impact my training. Right now I'll only be doing one game and that's the national championship (Jan. 6) and then I'll have a little time off. So I don't think I will get too out of shape just by one game."

On why he wanted this job: "Because of our great relationship. [ESPN has] been so generous to let me pursue my dream of being an NFL quarterback. And I will continue to push myself to become better every single day, not only as a quarterback, but also an analyst. If I get the opportunity to continue to play quarterback in the NFL, I would love to do so. But I also want to be the best analyst I can be for many years to come. I'm thankful for that partnership and, you know, it felt like right now was a great opportunity to start."

On whether he can be objective as an analyst: "I would love to continue to be someone that is positive but also be someone that is objective. I have never had a hard time saying what I believe or standing up for something and hopefully I can continue to be that same person as an analyst and sharing what I believe about players, about teams, about games. I will look at it from an objective prism and try to share an insight with the viewers just like I always have any time I have had the opportunity to share."

On whether he was surprised that an NFL team did not give him a call this year: "For me, I try not to worry about what I can't control. I know I've said that statement a lot but it's very true. I just tried to focus on becoming a better quarterback, becoming a better athlete and being ready for whenever an opportunity if a team gave me a call."

On why he chose ESPN over another playing in another league such as the CFL: "This is an awesome opportunity for me because it is the start of something -- it is the start of SEC Nation and it is fun to be at the ground level of something when it is being built and to try to help something grow from the bottom up. That is what we are trying to do and I'm excited to be a part of it."

Stephanie Druley, ESPN vice president of production for college networks, on why Tebow was hired: "When you look for an analyst, you look for someone who can provide unique perspective and give their opinion through the prism of their own experience and I don't think anyone has had a more unique experience than Tim Tebow, especially in the SEC. So I expect him to be a new voice, an exciting voice and a different perspective than we have heard before. ... Tim is a very nice person, as we all know, and the role model that he is. But he's also a football junkie. He lives, eats and breathes the game. That is what you look for as an analyst. The best analysts teach the viewers about the game. I think Tim will do an excellent job with that. I'm confident he'll give opinions where it needs to be given. As criticism is warranted, I think he'll give criticism. I think that criticism will be educated and well thought out."

Justin Connolly, ESPN senior vice president of programming for college networks, on what happens if an NFL team calls Tebow next fall: "It was important for Tim that he had the ability to pursue his interests in becoming an NFL quarterback and that is something we were certainly willing to include as part of bringing him aboard this team. In terms of specific situations, I don't want get ahead of ourselves and comment on any particular eventuality or scenario you can put together. But that is a key piece of this relationship and we will honor that perspective."

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