Gut Reaction: End of the Tebow era

In his press conference tonight with the New York media, Tim Tebow once again took the road less traveled.

That's because no one takes the high road any longer.  

He thanked his fans in Denver, spoke highly of his new coaches and teammates, and reaffirmed his commitment to being a team player--even if it meant sitting behind Mark Sanchez and playing in wildcat packages. He also reaffirmed his commitment to working hard and improving as a quarterback. Simply put, he was typically Tim Tebow.

As I listened to Tebow, I couldn't help but remember another former Broncos quarterback that left Denver after only a few seasons: Jay Cutler. Although blessed with twice the talent, Cutler was half the man on his way out of town. Pouting was his brush; sulking his paint; melancholy his work of art. Tebow would have none of this silliness. It's beneath him. He wouldn't waste his energy on such trivial things.

There's another key difference between Cutler and Tebow, and it's this: Tebow will forever be etched in Broncos lore. No matter what happens during his time in the league, he joins a list that we all hold dear.  This list includes Craig Morton, John Elway, Brian Griese, and Jake Plummer. What do they have in common? All of them have taken the Denver Broncos to the playoffs. 

You see, the playoffs are not something to take lightly. That's why the list of Broncos playoff quarterbacks is so short. In fact, Tebow is only the fifth Broncos quarterback to taste the post-season. Some quarterbacks will go their entire career and never get there.

This puts Tebow in special company, and all Broncos fans--no matter their personal views on Tebow's politics or religion--will come to embrace his place in the Broncos' history books. Further, we'll come to separate Tebow from Tebowmania as the years pass. Fair or not, Tebowmania burns hot (scorchingly so) at present. It won't always be this way. Further, Tebow's mechanical flaws will become rather like fascinating quirks as time passes. The 80-yard touchdown pass from Tebow to Demaryius Thomas in this year's playoffs will replace the mechanical imperfections in our seasoned minds. The moment will matter more than completion percentage ever did. In short, eventually, the bowling ball that is Tebow will take its place alongside the others: the scruffy Plummer, the bow-legged Morton, the aloof Griese, and yes, as much as it might pain some of us, John Elway. It's perfectly fine. He's earned it. Playoff victories don't just happen: people make them so.

There's also the matter of Tebow the man. Like all of us, he's more complicated than a few trite labels. Sometimes he seemed equal parts man child, exuberant and naive teenager, compassionate humanitarian, pitch man, evangelical, proselytizer, momma's boy, enigma, super hero, virgin, bull-dozing running back, village crier, and finally, quarterback. It's a long list.  That's because Tebow is a lot of things to a lot of people. I am still bewildered when I see yet another of the thousands of pictures floating around on the internet of Tebow standing next to some random person for a picture. Tebow always has that half-smile on his face, and I wonder, how quickly can he call that facial expression up? That's because I can't believe he's happy to be interrupted at dinner or on vacation or at a concert. Yet, each and every time, he still poses for the picture.

Tebow may very well be the sort of fellow you'd like your daughter to marry. Perhaps he's not. Either way, he's the kind of guy you can't believe exists--he never goes negative, even when he should.  Earlier in the week, Merril Hoge blasted Tebow yet again, this time with more venom than ever. It got personal. Hoge might as well have been on a playground. If there was ever a time for Tebow to get upset, it was then. Tebow was probably visiting a sick child or doing push ups or working out. I'm sure the last thing he was doing was wasting his time in anger.    

Tebow is now a member of the New York Jets. It would be easy to kick him on the way out the door. But why? To what end? His story as an NFL quarterback is still unfinished. None of us really know how it will end. Just because the Broncos scored the mother lode in acquiring Petyon Manning, it doesn't condemn Tebow to certain failure.

But that's for another day and another time. What we do know is that Tim Tebow had one hell of a ride while he was here at the helm. That ride took the Denver Broncos further than they'd been in years.  

Respect? Gratitude? 

I'm giving him a little of both, if you don't mind. Call it the road less traveled. And then I'm writing his name into Broncos legend--forever. 

I’m glad we had this talk.  Now, vaya con Dios, Brah.

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