Thomas took the stage with Tebow but declined to speak, leaving the popular New York Jets backup quarterback (who was acquired via trade after starting for the Broncos for much of last season) to take the microphone at the Nokia Theatre in Los Angeles. Tebow delivered a message to his successor in Denver, Peyton Manning.
"To be honest, I probably would've voted for Bubba (Watson), but Bubba, you know I love you, but you did win my golf tournament, so hopefully that will suffice," Tebow said.
"I want to congratulate DT, that was a heck of a play. He was amazing all year, especially when he needed to come up big, and that was a pretty nasty stiff-arm.
"I also want to congratulate and thank all of my old teammates -- take care of them, Peyton -- and I just want to thank them all."
As for Manning, he showed up at the awards show, too, presenting a video tribute to former Tennessee women's basketball coach Pat Summitt. The legendary coach, who has early on-set Alzheimer's disease, won the Arthur Ashe Courage Award.