Saturday, August 17, 2013

The strange case of Tim Tebow

Few would doubt that quarterback Tim Tebow was a phenomenal football player while at the University of Florida. If a Heisman trophy and a national championship aren't enough, to this day TT still holds a slew of all-time records, not only at Florida, but in the SEC, and a handful of overall NCAA marks as well. Very impressive stuff indeed.

But then came a problem. The NFL. The jump from college to the NFL is a huge one. Most everybody on the field is bigger, faster, stronger, smarter, and the game itself speeds up a lot from anything even the best of players saw in college ball. Sometimes "can't miss" superstar college studs go bust, and other times lowly draft picks or even completely undrafted players eventually find their way to stardom. Tom Brady (sound familiar?) was only a sixth round draft pick out of Michigan and he seems to have done OK.  Maybe not so familiar is Tony Mandarich. He was the second OVERALL pick out of Michigan State many years ago (chosen right after Troy Aikman) and he quickly crashed and burned. It seems the NFL can make stars of unlikely college players, while at the same time being brutal on those that were "destined" to succeed. It giveth, and it taketh away.

But this is about Tim Tebow, and things don't seem to have worked out very well for him since he turned pro. First he landed with the Denver Broncos, the former kingdom of John Elway, currently a big-time exec for the team. Though Tebow actually fared quite well during his stint in the Mile High city, fast forward a bit and, oops, here comes Peyton Manning to join the team. It could fairly be said the arrival of a player of Manning's status means somebody else has to go. Guess who? (Detroit Lions fans might want to consider what would happen if Aaron Rodgers somehow signed on with their team. Methinks their hero Matthew Stafford would be holding a clipboard in a hurry, his ridiculous salary aside.)

Off to the New York Jets. Sadly, Tebow couldn't even seem to beat out Mark Sanchez, he of the infamous butt-fumble and often times has looked like a cut waiting to happpen himself. But it was Tebow that got cut. Not being able to beat out someone like Sanchez was definitely not a good sign.

Enter the New England Patriots to save the day. Their mad, if stoic genius head coach Bill Belichick has been known to take on other teams' castoffs, reclamation projects if you will, and make productive players out of them.

Obviously, the above-mentioned Tom Brady is still their starting QB, but Brady's 36. Could Tebow be groomed to step in and replace him someday? Stranger things have happened. Never underestimate the mad genius.

Then I watched him play an exhibition game against the Tampa Bay Bucs. Before I mercifully clicked elsewhere, Tebow was 1 for 7 passing, for a grand total of 1 yard, had thrown an interception, and was nowhere near close on several other throws. My gosh, what has happened to this guy's skills since he left Florida? It's almost unbelievable -- and tragic.

So what does Belichick do with him? Obviously, he's not pro QB material. He's not big enough to be a lineman, on either side. Not fast enough to be a linebacker, and I think we can safely rule out cornerback, safety, or wide receiver. He doesn't possess the shifty moves required to be a regular running back. Hand him the ball 20 times a game, and he wouldn't last long in the NFL. The other guys would eat him alive. Can't kick or punt, and special teams would seem to be a stretch. Those guys are kamikazes and I just don't see Tebow fitting that mold. And again, he's not fast enough.

It would seem the only thing left is tight end. At his height and weight, Tebow might have a shot at that position, if he can catch and block. Nobody seems to know. And the Patriots recently experienced a vacancy at that position. Something about a guy being held in jail on a murder charge.

Don't get me wrong. Tim Tebow is a fine, God-fearing man, and probably has more moral character and ethics in his little toes than most other NFL players will ever achieve in their lifetimes.

But somehow I keep getting this feeling that Tebow is in the wrong place at the wrong time.

I wish him well, but the NFL is, after all, a brutal business in more ways than one.

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