Peyton Manning ends Tebow-Mania

Eric McErlain | Sports Blogger

Tim Tebow must be wondering exactly what he has to do to keep a job as a starting quarterback in the N.F.L.

With an awkward throwing motion and a profile seemingly better suited for the college game, it was clear from the start that the odds would be against the 2007 Heisman Trophy winner making it in the N.F.L. As it turned out, the doubters were only getting started when they trashed the Denver Broncos for selecting him in the first round of the 2010 N.F.L. Draft.

But despite his critics, Tebow worked at his game and bided his time. Eventually, Denver’s incumbent starter, Kyle Orton, lost the confidence of Denver head coach John Fox. Not convinced that another former first-round pick, Brady Quinn, had anything to offer, Fox had little choice but to give the job to Tebow, all the while doing his level best to craft an offense that played to Tebow’s strengths.

While the results weren’t spectacular on paper, Tebow did enough to engineer a couple of comeback victories, fashion a six-game winning streak and lead the Broncos to a surprise A.F.C. West title. But Tebow wasn’t done yet, as he brought “Tebow-Mania” to a fever pitch by leading the Broncos to a 29-23 overtime win over the defending A.F.C. champion Pittsburgh Steelers in the A.F.C. playoffs.

And though Tebow and the Broncos were thrashed just a week later by the New England Patriots, it was hard to envision him not at least entering training camp as the presumptive number 1 quarterback when the team returned to the field for training camp next summer.

Of course, nobody really could have predicted what would happen next. Sure, former Broncos great and current team executive John Elway clearly telegraphed the fact that he wasn’t entirely comfortable with Tebow, but even he couldn’t have predicted that Peyton Manning, the best quarterback of his generation and perhaps the best to ever play the game, would become available and that he would decide that Denver would be his new home.

Now, all indications are that the kid who was on top of the world just a few months ago is up on the trading block, and probably available for no more than a handful of lower-round draft picks. That’s one heck of a tumble to take.

But despite all this, something tells me that Tebow will be just fine, and that’s even going to be the case if he never plays another game as a starting quarterback in the N.F.L. for the rest of his life. In just a couple of N.F.L. Sundays, Tebow proved more to me than many quarterbacks have in an entire career.

Eric McErlain blogs at Off Wing Opinion, a Forbes “Best of the Web” winner. In 2006 he wrote a “bloggers bill of rights” to help integrate bloggers into the Washington Capitals’ press box. Eric has also written for Deadspin, NBC Sports and the Sporting News, and covers sports television for The TV News. Follow Eric on Twitter.

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