NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Tim Tebow has refused offers to play football in the NFL, indoors, in Canada and in Italy. He’s also refused an offer to suit up for the USA Rugby team. And many believe one simple reason may be at the heart of all those refusals.
Tebow still wants to play quarterback.
But will that insistence — some say stubbornness — on playing what may be the most revered position in all of U.S. sports ultimately end Tebow’s dreams of playing football period?
One thing’s for sure. Being relegated to the role of commentator, which Tebow has agreed to do for ESPN’s new college football network, hasn’t sapped his enthusiasm about a potential return to the NFL.
“I’m training every day and feel like I’m the best that I’ve ever been,” Tebow told the Tennessean this week. “I still love it, love playing, talking about it, and I’m just excited about whatever the future holds. Who knows what could happen? But I’m excited about it.”
Tebow was cut by the New England Patriots before last season and spent the entire season out of football. Before signing with the Patriots, Tebow was released by the New York Jets after one season in which he rarely saw the field.
The Jets reportedly gave Tebow the opportunity to seek a trade before cutting him, with several team showing interest. However, those teams’ interest waned when Tebow reportedly told them he wasn’t willing to play tight end or any position other than quarterback.
After two tumultuous years, Tebow and his and supporters still point to his time in Denver when asked why they believe he would make a viable NFL quarterback.
As the Broncos’ quarterback during a magical 2011 season, Tebow threw for 1,729 yards and 12 touchdowns in 13 starts. More importantly, he compiled a 8-5 record and showed an uncanny knack for engineering comeback wins, including the Broncos first playoff win since 2005.
After the Broncos signed Peyton Manning the following offseason, it was clear many Denver fans were hoping Tebow would not be released. In fact, of the nearly 3,000 who voted in a FOX31 Denver poll shortly before the Manning signing, over 78 percent voted in favor of the Broncos hanging on to Tebow.
Though John Elway has never had anything but glowing things to say about Tebow publicly — he has even going so far as to call Tebow “the type of guy you want your daughter to marry” — the Bronco Vice President’s actions may speak louder than words.
In signing Manning, Elway got a traditional quarterback who has completed 65.5 percent of his passes over the course of a 16 year career. That’s the fourth-best mark in NFL history.
In releasing Tebow, Elway got rid of an unconventional quarterback who has completed 47.9 percent of his career passes. If Tebow had thrown enough passes to qualify for the career completion percentage list (he hasn’t), that 47.9 percent mark would be the seventh worst in NFL history.
Given that fact — and the fact that the NFL is more passing-oriented than ever — many think it stands to reason why Tebow may never get the opportunity to throw enough passes to qualify for that list.
However, few have questioned Tebow’s desire an athleticism, both of which allowed him to run for 660 yards and six touchdowns with the Broncos during that same 2011 season — hence the discussions about a potential position change.
But the question remains: Would Tebow ever reach a point where he’d be willing to change positions and start racking up more NFL rushing or receiving statistics? That remains to be seen, as Tebow has yet to offer any public comment on the matter.
Lucky for his fans, however, they will be able to see much more of his public comments on ESPN this coming season.
Tebow is currently under contract to become a commentator this coming season on the ESPN show “SEC Nation,” which will air on a new SEC Network set to focus on the college football conference where Tebow played when he won the Heisman trophy.
And for those wondering if this gig will prevent Tebow from playing in the NFL at some point in 2014, you may rest easier knowing his ESPN contract contains an exit clause that will allow him to leave if an NFL opportunity presents itself.