Faith tested in dark time for former Jets QB
Not since Job in the Bible has a man had his faith tested so.
Okay. That's an exaggeration, but it highlights the point.
Tim Tebow is a man who must be wondering what God's plan for him is. We all know how devoutly religious he is. We've seen the clips of him praising God and thanking Jesus Christ. We've heard about how clean cut he is, and how humble he is. We've seen him act with nothing but graciousness despite having been put into some difficult spots in his NFL career.
But sooner or later you have to wonder whether the man will crack and vent his frustrations. Is he able to ignore the pressure to do it publicly? Not many athletes do anymore. In today's society with social media at their fingertips, most immediately vent their dislikes and opinions before thinking it thru as to whether they should do something like that.
I have to imagine that privately, Tebow has had a few conversations with God about his situation in the NFL. We haven't heard about this in the media because of the way Tebow conducts himself in the public spotlight. He has truly been able to do what very few could: not make his personal disappointment and frustration become public. I commend him for that. Because his career to date certainly doesn't deserve what he's gone thru.
Drafted originally by the Denver Broncos in the first round of the 2010 NFL draft, Tebow was thought to be a quarterback who would need a lot of development to make it in the NFL. I myself was one of those who thought Tebow wouldn't make it and that the Broncos had made a monumental error by selecting him.
By the end of his rookie season, Tebow was thrust into the starting job for the Broncos finishing out the last 3 games of the season. He showed exactly what we all thought: he needed development. But he also showed a knack for making plays and some promise that if an offense was tailored to him, he could produce wins.
Sure enough, in the 2011 season, when the Broncos started the season 1-4, Denver's head coach, John Fox, turned to Tebow to see what the kid had. It was widely assumed at the time (by myself included) that once the Denver faithful saw that Tebow was clearly not a quality QB, that the fans would then turn on him and Fox could say he tried Tebow, and it failed. Instead, Tebow proceeded to rip off 8 wins in the next 9 games and it became impossible for Fox to take him out as Denver was poised to make the playoffs. While at times Tebow was miserable moving the offense, he did just enough, and sometimes singlehandedly won the Broncos the game. It was working so impossibly well that even a 3 game losing streak to end the 2011 season wasn't enough to prevent the Broncos from making the playoffs. Tebow-mania was in full swing.
Then in the first round, against the heavily favored Pittsburgh Steelers, Tebow threw a touchdown pass on the first play of overtime to beat Pittsburgh and the Tebow-mania hit new heights both in Denver, and nationally. It would now take a miracle for the Broncos to not have Tebow enter 2012 as their starting QB.
Enter the miracle for John Elway and Denver: Peyton Manning.
Denver needed someone like Manning to be able to justify to the fans that there was a clearly better option at QB. It was a perfect set of circumstances for the Broncos. Manning had missed the entire 2011 season with a neck injury. The Colts ended up with the first pick in the 2012 draft. And there was a clear cut elite college QB prospect to be picked as Manning's successor in Andrew Luck. It led to the Colts releasing Manning and allowing him to find a new home. When Manning chose Denver over all other suitors, it allowed the Broncos to trade Tebow.
Denver found a trade partner in the New York Jets. Earlier in 2011, Tebow had led the Broncos to a victory against the Jets on a drive that ended with Tebow making a 20 yard improbable touchdown run with 58 seconds left. You could just feel at the time that Tebow had confounded Rex Ryan and that Ryan wouldn't mind having a competitor like that on the Jets. So when Tebow became available, the Jets acquired him to run new Jets offensive coordinator's Tony Sparano's wild cat style of offense.
Now, to go back and shed some light on why the Broncos didn't want Tebow as their starting QB, it was because in practices he was clearly lost trying to run a regular NFL offense. Brady Quinn was superior to Tebow in practices in that offense. When Tebow showed up in New York, it was again noticed by the coaching staff that Tebow just was awful in practice running a regular offense. The Jets had a quandary on their hands. As much as the publicity satisfied owner Woody Johnson's desire for his NFL team to be in the spotlight, Tebow was a disaster on the practice field. No matter what Tebow had done in actual game situations, he just didn't look good at all in practices and teammates were unlikely to rally behind him.
Even during a 2012 season where Jets starting QB Mark Sanchez was more often than not brutally bad, the Jets refused to give Tebow any chance to start. They even turned to their 3rd string QB, Greg McElroy to start over Tebow after a particularly brutal game by Sanchez that caused Sanchez to be benched.
At some point during what was turning out to be a hugely disappointing season for the Jets and Sanchez in particular, Rex Ryan wouldn't give Tebow a chance to prove he could provide the same in game heroics that he had provided while with Denver.
That must have been a huge blow to Tebow as he was promised a chance to compete for the starting job, and was repeatedly propped up as the backup QB to Sanchez over McElroy.
The Jets had nothing to lose by trying to do what John Fox had done in Denver when Tebow was there: show some offensive creativity and see whether Tebow could provide some on-field magic. It was a dumb move by Ryan and the Jets. They had, as I said, nothing to lose. But instead they chose to just keep Tebow a prisoner.
When the off-season came around, it was widely believed the Jets would cut Tebow and allow him to go somewhere else. They tried trading him to everyone. It was jokingly said in the media that the Jets would accept a bag of rice in return for Tebow. When no one would even trade that, the Jets, instead of releasing Tebow before the 2013 NFL draft so he could at least visit with teams, they held him hostage until after it was over. 11 QB's were drafted with another 21 signed as undrafted free agents. Any potential market for Tebow is pretty much dried up. It had to feel like the final slap in the face to a man who has done nothing but been accepting of the lousy hand he's been dealt.
So what happens to Tebow now? Will there be any team that is willing to take on both the development of him and the media circus that would surely follow him? I'm sure there will be. But what team that is I don't know.
I never had much faith that Tebow was ever going to be a successful NFL QB. I have been as down on his chances as anyone else. But after he proved to have some sort of magic in game situations, I certainly feel he deserves to be treated better than he has been and I hope his faith helps keep him from straying into what must be a huge temptation: to go public with his grievances.