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Tim Tebow faces uncertain NFL future

NEW YORK — From nearly unstoppable to nearly invisible.

Tim Tebow was two wins from the Super Bowl a year ago. Now, he's pretty much a player without a team — likely to be released by the New York Jets after one frustrating season and his hometown team in Jacksonville already pulling in the welcome mat.

Even Tebow doesn't know how this will unfold. A backup role on another NFL team? A position change? The Canadian Football League?

"I don't know what my future holds, but I know who holds my future," the devout Christian said in a recent interview with Fox Business Network, his only public comments since his strange Jets season ended.

"And, in that," he added, "there is a lot of peace and a lot of comfort."

Tebow barely played for the Jets last season. "An absolute mess," is the way recently retired special teams coordinator Mike Westhoff described it. Tebow has two years left on his contract, but New York is expected to trade or release him in the next few weeks. So far, destination unknown.

"I can't imagine a scenario in which he'll be a Jacksonville Jaguar," new general manager David Caldwell declared last week. "Even if he's released."

While there's an outside chance Tebow could remain a New Yorker, depending on the whims of the still -to-be-hired GM, it appears highly unlikely.

So, that's two NFL teams down — the only ones, at that, who showed any interest last offseason when Denver shopped him — and the 25-year-old Tebow's options appear to be dwindling.

"Tim Tebow is an extremely popular individual — or, he was," said former Cowboys executive Gil Brandt, now an analyst for NFL.com. "I think his popularity has waned significantly the last three or four months."

The buzz these days belongs to young quarterbacks such as Washington's Robert Griffin III, Seattle's Russell Wilson, Indianapolis' Andrew Luck and San Francisco's Colin Kaepernick. It seems so long ago now that Tebowing — his signature dropping to a knee for a prayerful pose — was all the rage.

But even Tebow never Tebowed during the regular season for the Jets. Not once. Quite a fall for a Heisman Trophy winner and two-time national champion with the University of Florida, and whose No. 15 Broncos jersey ranked second in national sales to Green Bay's Aaron Rodgers in 2011.

"I think it's fair to say," Tebow acknowledged last month, "that I'm a little disappointed."

Tebow went from being considered a key part of Rex Ryan's offense to almost non-existent. The numbers said it all: a mere 102 yards rushing and 6-of-8 passing for 39 yards. And, the most damning stat of all: zero touchdowns.

"I would've liked to see him get a chance," defensive end Mike DeVito said.

It didn't even come when Mark Sanchez struggled so badly that he was benched for the first time in his career. Instead of going with Tebow, the No. 2 quarterback on the depth chart, Ryan went with third-stringer Greg McElroy.

Acquiring Tebow ultimately led to GM Mike Tannenbaum and offensive coordinator Tony Sparano losing their jobs. And, it clouded Tebow's prospects in the NFL. No matter what, though, he insists he's a quarterback.

"I just don't think he will ever be a quarterback in the NFL," Brandt said. "I think he's really smart, but I don't think he has the mental quickness at the position. The second thing is, he just is not accurate."

Tebow, reportedly working out in Arizona with a personal trainer, could still land somewhere in the league as a project for an offensive coordinator willing to learn from the Jets' mistakes.

"He's still worth a try and I think somebody will sign him, but it'll be under the condition that it will be as something other than as a quarterback," said Brandt, who thinks Tebow will stay on offense. "If Al Davis were still here, he'd take him in a second and try to turn him into a tight end for the Raiders."

Or, Tebow could simply swallow his pride, head to Canada and become a huge star there with the CFL's wide-open fields. And then, who knows? Maybe he would come back to the United States — the same route Warren Moon, Doug Flutie and Jeff Garcia took to NFL stardom.

"There's no shame at all in going to the CFL," said Eric Crouch, the former Nebraska Heisman Trophy quarterback who played in both the NFL and CFL. "They'd take him right now and he'd get a lot of tape, and if he's there two years, he'd have 50 games under his belt reading defenses and coverages. Let the NFL scouts make their decisions then.

"And, hey, he might have so much fun there actually playing, he might not want to ever come back."

Tim Tebow faces uncertain NFL future 01/16/13 [Last modified: Friday, January 18, 2013 11:21am]
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