In a story in ESPN The Magazine's upcoming issue, writer David Fleming goes long on the NFL's casting out of Tim Tebow and questions whether the free agent quarterback still has a future in the NFL. The answer Fleming comes up with: probably not.
There are a lot of good tidbits in here. Even though he's respected as a person and a leader, Tebow is pretty much laughed off as a viable quarterback within league circles. Fleming called Tebow's improbable run to the playoffs with the Denver Broncos two years ago, "a magical mix of athleticism, leadership skills and, let's face it, plain old dumb luck," and obviously, the season didn't do much to excite coaches across the NFL.
In addition to Tebow's poor mechanics (which Fleming attributes in an accompanying video on ESPN.com to Tebow's dad, Bob) and poor accuracy, Fleming also suggests that Tebow's dyslexia had an effect on his quarterbacking. Tebow processes information differently, learning faster with flash cards and through practice than by spending hours studying the playbook. Fleming points out that Tebow would sometimes be forgetful in the huddle, asking his coaches to repeat play calls. Here's Fleming:
As a result, despite starting only 11 games in 2011, Tebow was flagged for delay of game an NFL-high seven times. Worse still was the fact that, according to scouts, Tebow almost never audibled because he struggled to quickly and properly read defenses. And of all the deadly sins Tebow committed against quarterbacking, this was the worst: lacking the self-awareness to recognize and fix these shortcomings.
Members of the Tebow camp told Fleming that the athlete's career is probably over. And that brings us to probably the most illuminating and damning section of the Tebow profile, when Fleming explains why taking a chance on Tebow probably isn't worth it:
But ask an NFC scout what he thinks of Tebow and the response is a gut punch: "He's not a quarterback. When you look at his run two years ago, when you watch the tape and break it down, he wasn't really doing anything that impressive. He's a tough guy, a great leader, a great person. But he isn't a good enough quarterback to have all the distractions that come with him."
In the end, this is the formula that ultimately doomed Tebow: Fatal flaws in his throwing mechanics and his cognitive understanding of the position left him as little more than a wildcat specialist, a No. 3 QB or a long-term project. Thanks to his athleticism, work ethic and leadership, that still meant he was an upgrade on at least a third of the rosters in the league — after all, such QBs as Pat Devlin and Ricky Stanzi are currently on rosters. But in the minds of GMs, Tebow's potential payoff would never outweigh the billboards, the parking lots full of satellite trucks, the endless QB controversies or any of the other distractions and internal conflicts he brings with him. Like the mythical snake Ouroboros, Tebow has been devoured whole by his own success. "There's no going halfway with Tebow anymore," says former Colts coach Tony Dungy. "You either gotta sell out and give him the keys to your team or stay away. Because, unfortunately, there's too much attention for him to be a regular, developing backup like everyone else."
Last night, USA Today followed up on the ESPN story, speaking to the newspaper's own source in Tebow's camp. And though he hasn't received any NFL suitors since being cut from the Jets back in April, the paper reports, he hasn't given up quite yet.
But Tebow can't address these allegations and rumors head on. We've already been over-saturated with Tebow (Fleming said Tebow "jumped the shark" and called him "the NFL's version of Kim Kardashian") and any time he reaches for the microphone could be seen as validation that he's a distraction to teams. So now, all the pious quarterback can do is sit on his hands, practice, and pray that teams either forget or remember him enough to give him another chance.
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