Tim Tebow has cleared waivers this offseason and remains on the NFL free-agent market. The reality of the situation has led members of Tebow's camp to suggest that his NFL career has likely ended after three seasons of work split between the Denver Broncos and New York Jets.
That's the latest from David Fleming of ESPN, who writes that the media frenzy surrounding the former Heisman Trophy winner and two-time national champion at Florida has scared away the entirety of league front offices in the quarterback market:
Even now, after Tebow cleared waivers unclaimed and with members of his camp privately admitting that his NFL run is probably over, the football world remains as divided as ever over him. It's nearly impossible to find a teammate who will say anything bad about Tebow as a person—or a scout who will say anything good about him as a player. But the sports masses mostly side with the NFL personnel people. It's embarrassing and exhausting to discuss him, which makes it official: Tim Tebow has jumped the shark.
Fleming's piece will appear in the June 10 issue of ESPN The Magazine.
When asked about the piece, Tebow's father Bob expressed skepticism about the report, according to NFL.com's Ian Rapoport.
Asked Bob Tebow, Tim's dad, about ESPN Mag report that Tebow admits NFL career is over: "You are old enough to not believe all you hear."— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) June 1, 2013
If Tebow were to officially retire from the game, he would finish his NFL career with 35 games of action, just over 2,400 yards passing on a 47.9 completion percentage, 17 touchdown passes and nine interceptions. He has also rushed for just under 1,000 yards and 12 touchdowns.
While he has been patiently waiting for phone calls and the opportunity to prove himself once again, those calls have been few and far between. Fleming categorizes the pitfalls of what has made Tebow so taboo to NFL teams, highlighting one word that really connects the dots: distraction.
The media circus that has perpetually followed Tebow has been the calling card of his professional career, first arriving in Denver when Josh McDaniels made him the 25th overall pick in the 2010 draft. Tebow was not expected to be one of the first quarterbacks off the board because of his flawed mechanics and lengthy delivery, but the Broncos took a chance on him to the surprise of many in NFL circles.
"Tebowmania" reached its peak when the famed signal-caller went on his magical run in 2011 and guided the Broncos to the second round of the playoffs, beating the heavily-favored Pittsburgh Steelers with a touchdown pass in overtime.
With the arrival of Peyton Manning in Denver, though, there was no place for Tebow on Denver's roster. The Broncos traded him to the Jets during the 2012 summer, and the last glimpses of the circus played out in New York's disappointing season.
From first-round pick to potential retiree in less than three years—could this be the end of Tebow? Fleming coyly thinks so:
Here's proof Tebowmania is over: it took almost a full day for a #Tebow fan to tell me I'm going to Hell.— David Fleming (@FlemESPN) May 31, 2013
This recent revelation isn't the first time we've seen chatter about what life would be like in the NFL without Tebowmania as a constant public focal point.
CBS Sports' Gregg Doyel urged Tebow to retire following the Sugar Bowl in 2010, stating prophetically that he didn't want to see a man who was at the pinnacle of the college sports world go to the NFL and be something less than stellar.
NFL.com's Ian Rapoport also urged Tebow to pursue a life of politics over the gridiron in 2012, before he ever made his way to the Big Apple and the disaster of his non-season that followed.
As David Fleming points out, it's not as if there are no NFL quarterback jobs to be had. JaMarcus Russell's comeback attempt has gained steam, and heck, Joe Theismann is even floating LeBron James as a potential signal-caller these days.
The meteoric rise and fall of the former Florida Gators star could be heading toward the bottom of the mountain as we speak.
Have we seen the last of Tim Tebow in the NFL?
Speculation about a move to the Arena League or CFL still running wild, and NFL training camp right around the corner, Tebow's camp has gotten the ball rolling on what could be the biggest early retirement story in the history of the NFL.
Although "privately admitted" is still the key statement in these reports, it's proof that much doubt has been cast over the NFL future of one of the most polarizing football players of this generation.
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