Well, it’s official. Peyton Manning is a Denver Bronco.
It’s a win-win, really. The Broncos get Manning, who even at 75 percent can still throw circles around just about any other quarterback. Manning, as long as he stays healthy, gets $96 million.
As I said: it’s a win-win… unless you’re Tim Tebow. I feel kinda bad for Tebow.
I know, I know, Tebow’s not worth my sympathies. If anything, I ought to hate him. He’s allied himself with a Christian Right whose political and social agenda both offends and horrifies me. Many of Tebow’s cohorts – perhaps even Tebow himself – wouldn’t hesitate to tell me as colorfully as possible which circle of hell I’ll burn in for being a) Jewish, b) pro-choice, c) pro gay-marriage, d) a Democrat, and e) Jewish.
Maybe. But I’m also an unemployed 20-something trying to find a job. And Tebow is a 20-something who just lost his job because his boss never liked him.
Tebow just isn’t Broncos executive VP John Elway’s idea of an NFL quarterback. Tebow runs too much. He dumps passing plays too quickly. He’s crap in the pocket. He lacks both arm strength and accuracy.
Tebow’s style barely worked in NCAA, and Elway will be damned if he’ll let that option-run, high school offense pollute the league whose purists he’s suddenly become the spokesman for.
I don’t disagree with Elway’s assessment – I’m not sure anyone could. But Elway’s decision to sign Manning, strip Tebow of his starting role (because c’mon, Manning isn’t getting $96 million to be a backup) and probably trade him seems based more on philosophy than performance.
Maybe Tebow’s two games against the Patriots doomed him. The Patriots certainly figured Tebow out, concocting a strategy simple enough for even their crap-tacular pass-rush to execute. The result: seven points or fewer in seven of the eight quarters the two teams played.
In two seasons in the NFL, Tebow has gone 9-7 as a starter. Not a great record, to be sure, but Tebow’s not the only quarterback to struggle in his first two years. Here’s how some other quarterbacks started out:
- Brady: 10 losses in first two seasons
- Manning: 16-16 in first two seasons (3-13 rookie season)
- Elway: 4-6 as a rookie-year starter
- Joe Montana: 2-6 as a starter in first two season
- Johnny Unitas: 10-9 in first two seasons
I’ve just listed five of the best quarterbacks of all time. Imagine what might have happened if any of these quarterbacks had been tossed aside after two seasons.
I’m not saying Tebow is a future Hall of Famer – at this point in his career, that idea’s basically inarguable. But Tebow can absolutely get better. That’s why teams have QB coaches: to help quarterbacks play better.
Even if a QB coach fixes all of Tebow’s mechanical issues, improves Tebow’s accuracy and lays out how Tebow can improve his arm strength, Tebow will never be Manning. He’ll probably never even by 0.6 Manning, which is what the Broncos basically paid for.
But Tebow is absolutely skilled enough to stay in the NFL as a starter. He’s willing to learn and be coached, he’s not a clubhouse problem, and he’ll carry a degree of celebrity to whatever team the Broncos trade him to that will translate into ticket and merchandise sales.
I absolutely believe Tebow could’ve been the Broncos QB of the future, but Elway never gave him a chance. Elway never believed in Tebow, and when an opportunity to bring in a more prototypical NFL quarterback arrived, Elway jumped on it with a moment’s thought.
Whatever Tebow’s personal faults might be, he didn’t deserve to get slapped in the face by ownership and have the loss of his job blasted across the sports media world for everyone to see.
Maybe this all went down the only way it could have. Maybe Elway had to jump on Manning before someone else signed him. Maybe preserving Tebow’s dignity would have been impossible.
Maybe. But Tebow’s a young kid still building confidence in himself as an NFL starter, and this can’t do anything but set him back mentally.
The Elway-Manning-Tebow triangle left a bitter taste in my mouth. As two quarterbacks who know what it’s like to not immediately live up to your hype, both Elway and Manning should have planned this better. Tebow deserved a better exit from the Broncos than the kick in the ass Elway gave him as he shoved Tebow out of Mile High Stadium.
Tim Tebow deserved better.