With his hold on the Denver Broncos' starting quarterback job loosening, Tim Tebow is coming to grips with the fact that nothing comes for free in the NFL.
"My dream, since I was a young boy, of being a starting quarterback in the NFL seemed to be coming true," Tebow told The Denver Post on Wednesday. "Then, I felt like it was grabbed back away."
Orton continues to practice exclusively with the first-team offense at Broncos camp, while Tebow, who started Denver's final four games last season, has yet to run a single play behind the No. 1 offensive line.
Tebow's critics have been vocal this week, and so have his supporters. ESPN analyst Merril Hoge ripped the former University of Florida star's playing ability.
"He is awful as far as accuracy goes, and what's kind of even more disturbing, he's probably worse moving and running around with the football and throwing than he is from the pocket," Hoge said on the air. Hoge later tweeted, "Sitting watching tape off bronco offense from last year! Orton or Tebow? It's embarrassing to think the broncos could win with tebow!!"
NBA superstar LeBron James came to the young quarterback's defense, tweeting, "Tim Tebow will succeed in the NFL. He's a hard worker, a student of the game, a natural born leader and most of all a WINNER! It takes time and he'll be nice."
Tebow told The Post that he's ignoring the rising cacophony, but he did respond to Hoge on Twitter, writing: "Hey Merril ... 'ppreciate that."
"I'm trying to insulate myself from what people in the media are saying, but I've seen some of it, and it hurts because it's coming from people who haven't seen me practice, haven't seen me play, haven't seen what I can do," he told the newspaper.
It has been a rocky week for the much-heralded Tebow, but he remains focused on what's ahead.
"Others who say I won't make it are wrong," he said. "They don't know what I'm capable of and what's inside me. My family and my friends have been bothered by what's gone on, and I tell them to pay no attention to it. I'm relying as always on my faith."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.