Print and Go Back espnW.com: Commentary

Monday, April 29, 2013
What's next for Tim Tebow?

By espnW

Question: Were the New York Jets right to release backup quarterback Tim Tebow?

Jane McManus: The Jets waived Tim Tebow after failing to find any trade value for him, thus ending a slow-motion disaster of a chemistry experiment. Not only did the Jets further undermine the confidence of their actual starter, Mark Sanchez, by bringing in Tebow, but they ultimately sandbagged the hopes of their backup when they named Greg McElroy the starter over Tebow when Sanchez ultimately was benched.

Tebow wasn't coming back, which even he seemed to telegraph when he skipped the Jets' baggie (locker cleaning) day at the end of the season. When the Jets added David Garrard and drafted Geno Smith, it was clear the silly game of quarterback musical chairs was about to stop abruptly.

No one outworked Tebow and no one had a more positive attitude, but contrary to what motivational speakers want you to believe, that isn't always enough. The prototypical college quarterback is not always good enough at the position for the NFL. No judgment, no hating, just truth.

So where does he go?

Sarah Spain: Where does Tebow go ... and what position will he play? If he refuses to play anything but quarterback, the CFL (or your local YMCA league) may be the only place for him. If he wants a future in the NFL, he'll need to consider a move out of the pocket.

According to ESPN's Adam Schefter, Tebow was given permission to seek a trade during the offseason. But when several teams asked if he was willing to play tight end, he said no. Tebow may have been one of the most decorated quarterbacks in college history, but as you pointed out, Jane, successful college quarterbacks don't always become successful pro quarterbacks.

He's undeniably athletic, he's got great size, he's got speed, he's got a killer work ethic and he's motivated to prove he belongs in the league. Those qualities may not save him as a wonky-throwing quarterback, but they would serve him well if he tried to transition into an H-back or a goal-line running back.

After covering him for a full season, Jane, do you see Tebow eventually giving in and switching positions, or do you think his pride (hubris?) will eventually cost him a spot in the league?

McManus: You know, I asked him that a few times last season. Each time, the answer was quick and determined: He sees himself as a quarterback.

His entire identity depends on playing quarterback. Tebow's reputation was built on his ability to lead -- check YouTube for the videos of him pushing his Florida teammates in the huddle -- and that's part of the reason he gained so much traction for his religious values among those who share or admire them. That morphed into an industry -- and last year his attorneys moved to trademark "Tebowing."

Now, the popularity that came as a result of Tebow the Brand is coming back to bite him. Tebow's celebrity brings a spotlight that is out of balance when he isn't a starter, and he doesn't have the talent to be an NFL starter. It's a conundrum: What do you do with a great player who isn't great at his position?

All last season, reporters would converge at Tebow's locker for his weekly news conference. He would say all the right things on the record, and then we'd start talking to him about college football. Tebow was more animated in these discussions than at any other time. He has an encyclopedic knowledge of SEC football, and can recall dates and scores easily.

It looked as though his natural position may not be on an NFL football field, but as a college analyst.

Spain: I can absolutely see Tebow as an analyst. He's poised, he's thoughtful, he's smart and he's got a legion of fans looking to support him in whatever he does. What I can't see is Tebow transitioning to that role anytime soon. He's proven to be Teflon-strong in the face of adversity, whether in leading a game-winning drive with the Broncos or suiting up every day with Jets teammates who openly dogged his skills. Tebow's already been to hell (New Jersey) and back; it's going to take more than getting released by the Jets to cause him to give up.

He'll hire quarterback coaches, he'll change his throwing motion, he'll keep himself in top shape in case a team needs him midseason. Tebow will do whatever it takes to keep his dream of being an NFL quarterback alive. Will it work? Probably not. The league adjusted to his play following his heroics in Denver, and he's been universally panned since, ridiculed in practice and almost never used in games.

If he's willing to make a position change, I can see the Patriots taking a chance on him as an H-back or a goal-line running back. Bill Belichick has proven that he can wrangle nearly anyone; in this case it would be the circus that Tebow brings, not Tebow himself. Belichick would be able to keep attitude from Tebow's teammates in check and find the best way to use his skills. Of course the Patriots, like every other team, have just finished stocking up on draft picks, free agents and cheap practice-squad players. Tebow may need to wait for a team that's depleted by injuries or stuck at the bottom of the standings and in need of a publicity boost.

I think he's still got some worth as a hard worker, a good example for teammates and a great athlete. The question is, will he swallow his pride soon enough for a team to take a chance on him?

McManus: Truth is, he should have done that already. NFL teams have been frank that they don't see him as a starter. If Tebow truly wanted to be a quarterback, he's had plenty of time to find a guru and completely break down and rebuild his throwing motion, like Tiger Woods has done with his golf swing.

But Tebow hasn't. And for all his hard work and willingness, that tells you a lot.

So now he is at a crossroads -- swallow his pride and switch positions, try quarterbacking in another league or find his next incarnation. The Jets' decision to cut Tebow raises as many questions as it answers.