While the team succeeded on the heels of stellar play from Von Miller and one of the best rushing attacks in the league, it was the leadership—and incredible hype—of Tim Tebow that made the team relevant in the NFL.
According to a Sunday report out of CBS Sports, Manning is favoring the Denver Broncos. If he were to leave Indianapolis and start anew in Denver, the Broncos could trade Tebow to a team without a franchise quarterback like the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Selling out on Tim Tebow after only one season, however, is shooting a successful horse in the leg mid-stride.
Forget everything about his lack of fully developed talent at the quarterback position. Tebow is the face of the Denver Broncos franchise and has received critical support from Denver legend John Elway since his rise to fame in the NFL.
His play fits with the identity of the team, and once Tebow was named the starter, six consecutive victories and a heroic playoff win over the Pittsburgh Steelers solidified the start to a noted rise to franchise success for Denver.
Nicole Darin tweeted that Tebow was “rattled” by the Manning visit to Denver and he refused to talk to the media as initially planned (via NBC Sports).
If you’ve got Tebow rattled and unwilling to talk, you know that things have gotten bad.
If I were to speak objectively, focusing entirely on the dynamics of how football ought to be played, there wouldn’t even be a question for the “better” option next season.
When you’re give the opportunity to land a four-time NFL MVP and future Hall of Famer like Peyton Manning, you’ve got to do it.
Manning provides leadership, wisdom and talent infinitely beyond anything what Tebow can offer over the course of the next couple of seasons.
Beyond that, however, Broncos management would have to consider the implications of letting Tebow go.
It means that, if Manning isn’t as healthy as we would like to hope and he's unable to play at an acceptable level, the Broncos just permanently traded their quarterback. It means if Manning has only one or two years left in his tank regardless of injury (he is, after all, an aging star), the Broncos just permanently traded their quarterback.
And most of all, it means that if Tebow ultimately does live up to his potential and becomes a future star in the NFL (hey, it’s sports—crazier things by the name of “Jeremy Lin” have happened), the Broncos just permanently traded their quarterback.
Tebow is a young and athletic quarterback who represents the progressive evolution of the quarterback position.
Manning, on the other hand, is six years and four neck surgeries removed from his only Super Bowl title. The team that he did win with had significantly more talent than Denver at the receiving position and on defense. Now that he’s older, there’s no guarantee that he can play at the same level of greatness that he is accustomed to.
After the effort that Tebow gave to the Denver franchise week in and week out last season, he doesn’t deserve to be toyed with.
His comeback victories and positive press gave Denver fans something to believe in and gave the city something to unite behind. That isn’t something that can just happen over night, but is rather slowly developed over time.
Manning is Indianapolis’ boy and always will be, no matter where he ends his career; his 208 consecutive starts in Indy help solidify that. Tebow is giving Denver the chance to develop his homegrown talent and allow him to be Denver’s pride and joy.
Adam Schefter reports that the Manning sweepstakes have come down to Arizona and Denver. Despite the fact that the Broncos have more than $30 million in salary cap space to spend, it would be wiser to throw that money at someone who didn’t just have four neck surgeries.
Injuries are a scary thing in a sport as physical as the NFL and should never be taken lightly for a player’s health. Manning was unable to play a game last season and was released by the Colts because they decided that his contract wasn’t worth the play that he’d be giving the team.
Read that again: After four MVP awards, a Super Bowl victory and an entire history in Indy, even they thought it was time to let the quarterback walk.
Why gamble in Denver?
Of course, there are worse things that could happen to Tebow. If he were traded to Jacksonville, he would land on a team that desperately needs help at the quarterback position and already has one of the most incredible running backs in the league with Maurice Jones-Drew.
The Jags also have a top pick in the upcoming NFL draft and could provide Tebow help at the receiving position with a prospect like Alshon Jeffery or Justin Blackmon.
Tebow also played college at the University of Florida, so he would walk in as an instantly familiar face and hero. Unlike in Denver, where he is constantly trying to win fans' trust, Jacksonville provides Tebow with a place where he is actually wanted and could thrive.
If Jacksonville lands Tebow before potentially moving to Los Angeles, it would two of the NFL’s brightest and most marketable stars already in the wings for Hollywood.
If Peyton Manning finds a home on a contender in the AFC, he would be able to continue to do the one thing that he loves most of all: win NFL football games.
The only loser here would be the Denver Broncos, who would be destroying the image of their franchise. Nothing says “I can’t trust my team” to the Broncos players like letting their iconic quarterback leave after one miraculous season.