Joakim Noah on Tim Tebow: “He Could Play Anything He Wants”

He knows what being the center of attention is.

He knows what being the center of attention is.

I’ll admit that though Tim Tebow is probably the best land-based athlete the University of Florida has had this decade (I see you, Ryan Lochte), my favorite is still Joakim Noah, who made up in height, boundless happiness, and purported capacity for free thought for what his reign lacked in length, relative to the Tebowverlord.

(What that has to with Noah being a Tebow fan, and a huge one, I don’t know. But I needed to say it.)

ESPN Chicago’s Ryan Friedell caught up with Noah on this SEC Championship Game Eve to ask a few questions of the big guy. He got good answers.

NF: What is your favorite Tebow memory?

JN: My favorite Tebow memory … I just miss going to Thw Swamp. And just watching those guys kick [butt]. My favorite Tebow memory would have to be … I’ll always remember his freshman year, like one of the first times he came into the game, I think it was against Kentucky, actually. And he made like a 50-yard run or something. And I was at The Swamp when he made that run his rookie year. And there was just so much hype about him, but he just came in and kicked [butt].

I loved his freshman year when it would be like third and inches or something and they’d put Tebow in the game and he would just always pick up that first down. I remember we had trouble with that the year before. We always had trouble picking up that first down. For me, when it was like third and inches with Tebow, you might as well just put it in the books, man. It’s going to be a first down. So to me, those were my favorite memories from Tebow, just picking up those first downs on third and inches or third and one or third and two. He always found a way to get it. He was scrappy out there.

NF: Could he play basketball if he wanted to?

JN: I think he could play anything he wants. People always say that Tebow won’t be a pro quarterback and there’s a lot of doubters, but I think that his character’s going to get him through so much. And I think he’s going to become a very good quarterback in the NFL when he’s done with anything. Because of his character and what he’s made of. He’s not going to let go. He’s going to just keep fighting until he reaches his ultimate goal. I think that character means a lot in sports and I think that people underestimate that a lot. And I think that he got it.

Dismiss “I think he could play anything he wants” as the starry-eyed optimism of a fan if you must, but remember that Noah is saying that in the context of Tebow’s desire. (I’ll guess he recognizes a kindred spirit.)

There’s probably never going to be any doubt about Tebow’s work ethic, and that’s one of the things that may make him a more valuable NFL prospect come April than he has been during a relatively lackluster senior year. Tebow has wanted to be an NFL quarterback since childhood, and will still certainly get that chance, but if he were to be asked to switch positions, I assume he’ll accept that challenge with relish.

He always has.

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