What's next for Tim Tebow?
The incredible popularity of Tim Tebow is a double-edged sword right now.
One side got him listed as America's No. 1 most influential athlete on Forbes.com. Quick, can you name another backup quarterback that has received that amount of praise?
In addition, there hasn't been anything brewing on the Tebow front regarding a new home. That, however, is not surprising either.
For one, Tebow refuses to switch positions according to ESPN.com's Adam Schefter last week:
Jets had granted Tim Tebow permission this off-season to seek a trade. More than one team asked if were willing to play TE, but he was not.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) April 29, 2013
Second, Tebow's popularity hit a new level when a group of fans attempted to get a petition pushed through the White House. In an article by Jay Busbee of Yahoo! Sports, Jacksonville Jaguars fans wanted Tebow on board but were shunned:
A band of Tebow fans sought to get President Obama involved in the Jacksonville Jaguars' free-agency dealings. They tried to persuade David Caldwell, the Jaguars' general manager, to rethink his no-Tebow pose.
The White House has gracefully excused itself from the entire debate. The petition link is now dead, removed because it violates the site's terms of service policy.
Tebowmania is a madhouse that no NFL franchise wants to deal with.
Interestingly enough, none of it is Tebow's fault. He's just a guy who stepped in for the struggling Kyle Orton in 2011 and led the Denver Broncos to the postseason.
Plenty of backup quarterbacks have achieved similar impact throughout the history of pro football. And others have done much, much more than Tebow when called upon. One prime example is Earl Morrall of the Miami Dolphins in 1972.
He filled in for starter Bob Griese and helped lead coach Don Shula's team to a perfect season. Griese ultimately orchestrated Miami to the AFC title and Super Bowl VII victory, but it was Morrall's success that also put the Dolphins in position to make history.
Now, imagine that exact same scenario unfolding today. It would be bedlam.
Tebow's popularity, in a nutshell, is the vessel that defines the 21st century. Mass numbers of people have constant access to instant news and information, which obviously leads to an overload of coverage.
That inevitably helped kick off the appeal and marketability of Tebow even faster, not to mention the fact that he has managed to win in an unconventional way.
Factor the befuddlement of NFL purists—as the game had not seen a quarterback roll off wins with a 46.5 completion percentage—and that only enhances Tebow's aura. Even the average signal-callers during the 1950s and '60s were more efficient passers.
When will Tebow get back under center in pro football?
Had Tebow suited up prior to this century, his polarizing talent would not have possessed such an unfathomable impact, and certainly wouldn't have taken on such a life of its own.
It's not so much that Tebow has won by simply improvising either. The Broncos backed him with a great defense that won field position and gave him additional possessions. Denver also had a traditional ground game and playmaking receivers that he could rely on.
With the Jets he sported a dismal 36.1 completion percentage in the 2012 preseason. Tebow was also sacked seven times and threw two picks (zero touchdowns). No team wants to see that lack of production, especially when heading into the regular season.
As James Walker of ESPN.com writes, Tebow's following is not helping either:
As we found out with the New York Jets in 2012, Tebow as a backup quarterback is a disaster waiting to happen. His immense popularity makes him an immediate fan favorite and puts too much pressure on franchises to make an immediate position change. Tebow's limitations, which include awful mechanics and poor accuracy, also makes it extremely tough to run a conventional offense.
For his sake, Tebow definitely belongs on the field and has proven the ability to contribute under center.
The thunderous impact of pressure a franchise engages with Tebow, though, simply does not bode well for the long-term future.