By the time you read this, the Denver Broncos will still be in the process of negotiating a new contract with future Hall of Famer Peyton Manning or the ink will already be dried. Either way, soon-to-be-former starting quarterback Tim Tebow will likely be leaving the Mile High City – possibly to the sandy beaches of Miami, the chilly tundra of New England, or somewhere else yet to be named. After a 1-4 start in 2011, Tebow led the Broncos to an 8-6 record, AFC West Championship and a playoff victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers before getting steamrolled by the Super Bowl-bound New England Patriots; ending their storybook season and leaving Tebow’s future to much speculation.
John Elway, the Executive VP of Football Operations, put an end to such speculation and has shown his appreciation to the former Gator by signing the 36-year old Manning – who, by the way, missed all of the 2011 season while recouping from neck surgery and has not seen action since his former team – the Indianapolis Colts – dropped their 2010 Wild Card playoff appearance to the New York Jets, 17-16. It remains to be seen whether Manning will have what it takes physically to lead Elway’s team to a much coveted Super Bowl championship, but Elway – a former Denver quarterback in his own right – no doubt sees a mirror image of himself in Manning. Peyton’s that traditional veteran gun-slinger that Elway wants to make a championship run in 2012. Despite last year’s success, Elway was very reluctant to shower any praise on the team’s good fortune with Tebow as the starter, nor was he interested in molding Tebow into a franchise quarterback. So much for developing a young talent in Denver.
During Tebow’s 2011 tenure as Denvers’ starting QB, the mainstream press and liberal sports media mocked anything and everything about the Bronco quarterback. He was so non-traditional in every way imaginable. He wore too much of his Christian faith on his sleeve. He didn’t have the right throwing motion to be a successful quarterback in the NFL. He wasn’t Joe Montana. He wasn’t Dan Marino. In the eyes of his detractors, Tebow was for all intents and purposes – a loser.
But the Broncos kept winning and the unconventional smash-mouth playing style of the 24-year old was working. It wasn’t pretty. His overall quarterback rating was abysmal, but the Broncos kept finding ways to win and the media continued to wring its hands week after week. This had to be some type of divine intervention, because there was no way Tebow was leading this team to victory on his own. Was this young man actually rallying support from his teammates? Was he making the Broncos believe that they could win every week – regardless of the opponent? Yes, to consternation of the media, Tebow did just that.
I relished the overtime wins, late game heroics and come-from-behind victories engineered by Tebow because of my admiration for him as a person and player as well as my delight at the media disbelief. The guy that was mocked personally and professionally for every reason under the sun, just kept on playing, winning and doing it all with a smile on his face. The media couldn’t break his spirit and they still haven’t, even as they’re secretly celebrating his demise in Denver. The fairy tale at Mile High is over and now the Tebow magic will be moving on to its next destination.
As Manning packs his bags for Denver and Tebow contemplates his next move, the doubters are out in full force. The negativity was flowing from the pen of CBS Miami’s Tim Kephart on Monday:
“The only problem is Tebow has proven time and time again in the NFL that he has trouble throwing the football with precision and/or timing. New Fins head coach Joe Philbin’s West Coast offense depends on both precise and perfectly timed throws, neither of which Tebow can do on a consistent basis.”
After posting a winning-record as a starter; not to mention a division title and a playoff victory over the Steelers, Tebow can’t catch a break. If Kephart’s response is any indication, it appears that Tebowmania won’t find much media love wherever he ends up – even if it’s in South Beach (five hours and forty minutes from his alma mater).
But, by now, Tim’s surely use to the naysayers and the constant barrage of negativity. Wherever he ends up, the critics will be out in full force and every snap he takes will be scrutinized for weeks and months afterward. If you’re a Tebow-hater don’t waste your time longing for his demise. Success on the football field is just a small part of Tebow’s contribution to the world.
Admittedly, he would look great in Buccaneer pewter, but I’ll leave that argument for the crowded bars of Tampa.