Saturday, December 16, 2017
Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Released by Jets, Tebow's NFL days might be done

If this is the end, if this is really the NFL slamming the door on Tim Tebow's career, then there are two ways to look at it.

One, Tebow got robbed.

And two, Tebow robbed the Jets.

There is no other way to look at it, really. Either the Jets wasted Tebow's time, or he wasted theirs. Either he could have done more, and darn the Jets for not recognizing it, or he was lucky to have a job. Either the Jets were afraid that Tebow would succeed and get in the way of Mark Sanchez, or they were frightened that he would embarrass them further.

You decide.

For now, it is all over but the arguing.

After a season of silliness, after a season of waste, the Jets distanced themselves from part of the joke Monday when they cut Tebow from their collection of bad quarterbacks, essentially freeing up Tebow's fans to argue why their local franchise should immediately work to bring him to their towns.

Sadly, because Tebow is one of the good guys, it is not likely to happen. Unless Tebow is willing, finally, to give up on the idea of playing quarterback and to switch positions, it is hard to imagine a new home for him in the NFL. Especially now, when rosters are fat with draft picks and offseason acquisitions, there seems to be little work for Tebow. Does he go to Montreal of the CFL? To Orlando of the Arena League? To the latest spring league?

And, if this is it, and you get beyond all of the yelling on both sides, what is Tebow's legacy to be?

Well, you could pronounce him as an underachiever as a 2010 Broncos first-round draft pick, although that's simplistic. The truth is that Tebow's resume is a complicated one, dotted with big moments and small ones.

At Florida, he was one of the finest college quarterbacks in history. There are a lot of those who fizzled in the NFL, from Danny Wuerffel to Ryan Leaf to Matt Leinart. Tebow remains one of the good guys in a sport that doesn't have enough of them. Tebow's fans, and they are legion, are right about that. Whether a guy can throw a spiral or not is hardly a reflection of his character.

In Denver, Tebow had his fleeting success. He won seven games in 2011, including five fourth-quarter comebacks. They still talk about his 80-yard pass to Demaryius Thomas on the first play of overtime to beat Pittsburgh in a playoff game.

That year seems to suggest that if Tebow had the right cast around him, if a team went all-in on him, he could have at least limited success. But it's hardly the easy way to do it.

As for the Broncos, they never seemed to be in love with Tebow. Too many bad practices, too many wobbly passes. Yes, Tebow got them into the playoffs, but he lost his final three regular-season games, one of them in which Denver scored only three points against the Chiefs. It's not quite accurate to say Tebow carried that team into the postseason.

Then came the Jets. Say what you want about Tebow, but for crying out loud, he was better than the Jets. New York chased Tebow hard, and once it got him, the Jets didn't think much of what they saw. They talked about the wildcat, and Tebow ended the season with only 102 yards rushing. Tebow might have done more, but the franchise was dedicated to so much silliness in so many other areas.

So Tebow hung around for a wasted year, and the owner talked him up and the coaches looked the other way. When Mark Sanchez was finally benched, those coaches went to Greg McElroy as the next man up. Greg McElroy?

While the chaos swirled around him, Tebow sat.

Now, you have to wonder if he will ever put on shoulder pads again for an NFL game. At 25, Tebow's career could be complete.

How does this happen? How can such a great college player fail to impress that many people in the pros? How does a playoff quarterback work his way through a career after a season with only 72 snaps?

The answer is simple: It's a different game, a different set of skills. In college, a quarterback can do a lot of damage with his legs. But the NFL is a passer's league. A tighter spiral, a quicker release, a better motion, can make a lot of difference.

Tebow's legacy? He was a guy who deserved another shot … on someone else's team. He was a player who should have played more … in someone else's huddle.

In the end, however, Tebow's passes were just too off-target.

His team, too.

Comments
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