With Tim Tebow now an unrestricted free agent, and with NFL teams not exactly beating down doors to sign him, attention around the country is naturally turning to the Canadian Football League (CFL).
There is a perception that the CFL is thought of as NFL-light, a secondary version of the NFL.
However, Warren Moon, a true expert when it comes to the CFL, thinks the leauge is more complex than that. Moon expressed doubts that Tebow could succeed as a quarterback in the CFL (via ESPN.com News Services), saying:
You have to be able to throw the ball up there [in the CFL], if anything. They throw the ball a lot. It's only three downs, so the passing game is much more important up there, and there's a lot more field to cover. If you can't throw the football, it doesn't matter where you play quarterback. You have to be able to throw it. That's [Tim Tebow's] biggest problem, just being able to complete passes, be an accurate passer.
Moon is a man who knows what he is talking about. In his 23-year pro career, he had huge success in both the NFL and CFL. He has the unique honor of being a member of the football hall of fames in both American and Canada.
What Moon is talking about is how the style of play is radically different in Canada. With a bigger field and fewer downs, the CFL is like the NFL in a hurry. It is all about passing and a lot about making difficult throws across the field laterally. While NFL quarterbacks often come to the CFL, it is not usually because they cannot throw the ball.
When the conversation touched on Doug Flutie, another success story of a quarterback going to the CFL, Moon elaborated on his perception of what it takes to succeed in the CFL:
We knew how to throw the ball. We were very good passers. We didn't have to go up there to change our throwing motion. We didn't have to go up there to try and become more accurate. We just needed to get to the opportunity. [Doug Flutie's situation] was because of his height. Mine was because of my color. So we went up there and proved ourselves.
The ideas Moon refers to are ones that have sparked my interest since the summer of 2012.
The CFL is an incredibly pass-happy league. Even compared to the most pass-oriented teams in the modern NFL, CFL teams are all about throwing the ball. For this reason, it would not surprise me if a player like Tebow were to have even more trouble in the CFL than in the NFL.
The Montreal Alouettes own the rights to Tebow in the CFL. Their general manager, Jim Popp, has recently made comments that seem to agree with Moon's sentiments. He presented the Alouettes' situation (via Chuck Schilken of The Los Angeles Times):
We have quarterbacks under contract. We’re going to camp in a month. We’ve got a starting quarterback. I’m not out there enticing or trying to convince [Tim Tebow] to come to Montreal because he’s [not] going to be a starting quarterback. He would be coming to Montreal to be a backup player.
Who would Tebow have to sit behind? Montreal's current quarterback is Anthony Calvillo, who has more career passing yards than any football player in any league ever (yes, including Brett Favre).
Would Tebow want to (or even be willing to) sit on the bench until Calvillo retires?
While Tebow's situation is still in flux, it appears to be increasingly reasonable to think that Tebow's most appropriate destination is the Arena Football League (AFL). The AFL is more similar to the NFL than the CFL. So it is more plausible to think that Tebow could earn a starting quarterback job there.
Perhaps Tebow's future will still take him through Canada. But at the moment, it seems that Warren Moon would recommend otherwise.