Tim Tebow Is in Football Purgatory and He Hasn't Really Sinned

Peter Richman@ peter_f_richmanCorrespondent ISeptember 1, 2013

FOXBORO, MA - JUNE 11: Tim Tebow #5 of the New England Patriots walks off of the practice field following minicamp at Gillette Stadium on June 11, 2013 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)
Jared Wickerham/Getty Images

A common saying tells us, "If you love someone, let them go." 

According to NFL.com, the New England Patriots cut Tim Tebow from the 53-man roster on Saturday, choosing to carry only two quarterbacks for the 2013 season. Put in the most telling way, he was "released" from the team.

Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots may dislike Tim Tebow's throwing arm, his accuracy or his decision-making in the pocket. They also may genuinely love and respect him as an earnest man and a teammate.

One thing is for certain after a tumultuous summer in Foxboro: the hoodie-clad coach known for his stone-cold brevity is probably relieved since he let Tebow go.

We know Belichick doesn't like to express his feelings. Now he won't have to awkwardly dispel any more rumors about his feelings—one way or another—toward the polarizing Tebow, as he did back in early June against allegations that he "hated" the quarterback (via ESPN.com):

Every single player has strengths and weaknesses but regardless of that, for anyone to have represented that is the way I feel about Tim Tebow is completely untrue, baseless and irresponsible. It is unfortunate that something so inaccurate was reported.

 For now, however, Tim Tebow is in a state of football purgatory. He is caught somewhere between acceptance into the highest level of professional football and the depths of plain and utter irrelevancy.

Two seasons ago, the former Heisman winner could not have sliced a cleaner cut through the American public. Even his hype had hype. His haters had haters. For the life of us, we couldn't decide whether to love him, despise him, ignore him or watch him.

Opposing fans taunted until they were taught a lesson, and Broncos fans closed their eyes until Tebow found the perfect opening.

You either overwhelmingly supported his strange success or you lambasted his every move, foaming at the mouth to force your fangs into his failure. It seems everyone was waiting to say, "I told you so" at one point or another.

He had a weirdly miraculous 2011 season with the Denver Broncos. "Tebowmania" was born, put high on a pedestal, maintained, lifted higher in the postseason and then allowed to gently float back down to earth.

In Week 5 of 2011, he replaced Kyle Orton at halftime of a road game against the San Diego Chargers, and the Broncos nearly came from behind to win. With Denver's record then at a 1-4 and coming off a bye week, Tebow started Week 7 against the Miami Dolphins and threw two touchdowns in the final three minutes of regulation to send the game into overtime. Denver would win 18-15.

After a blowout loss the following week to the Detroit Lions, the Broncos, with Tebow at the helm, won their following six games.

Then the Broncos were matched against Ben Roethlisberger and the Pittsburgh Steelers in the Wild-Card Round at Mile High Stadium. The game went into overtime. On the very first play, Tebow play-faked from the shotgun and hit Demaryius Thomas across the middle in stride for an 80-yard score.

And, as broadcaster Dave Logan told us here, the Denver crowd lost its mind, and Tebow knelt in the end zone.

Right as his legend was soaring, the Broncos traveled to Foxboro and were absolutely demolished on the road the following week in the Divisional Round by New England, 45-10.

Two years later, after he has been tossed like raw meat into the circle of New York media, chewed up, spit out and digested again, his words that were once corny but inspiring simply seem tiring.

He tweeted Saturday:

I would like to thank Mr. Craft, Coach Belichick, Coach McDaniels and the entire Patriots organization for giving me the opportunity to be part of such a classy organization. I pray for nothing but the best for you all. I will remain in relentless pursuit of continuing my lifelong dream of being an NFL quarterback.

Tebow has not sinned in the world of football. He is really not a bad guy at all.

He has not single-handedly enraged a fan base in one play, turning them against the franchise for the remainder of the season (like infamous New York Giants' quarterback Joe Pisarcik and "The Fumble" in 1978 or Mark Sanchez' more recent "Butt Fumble").

In fact, he created a successful season and invigorated a fan base when it had seemed a long-forgotten cause in 2011. He has neither harmed a franchise's reputation nor purposely represented a team in a negative light; he has just been in the middle of everything, the target of all the scrutiny.

He is now somewhere in between football existence and disappearance. He hasn't built a career out of his two BCS championships at Florida, but he hasn't destroyed his future either. It's as if he possesses neither a shining, polished resume nor an empty one.

He just sort of has one. 

After the New York Jets released him in April earlier this year, former NFL quarterback and ESPN analyst Ron "Jaws" Jaworski said that Tebow should definitely pursue being a quarterback. But he meant in the Arena Football League. As the Philadelphia AP succinctly put it in the article, "Tebow's inaccurate passing, in addition to the relentless media attention he draws, makes him a risky acquisition for any NFL team."

But again, no one, including Jaws means anything disrespectful. In fact, it is out of relentless, exhausting respect: "I love the guy. I want him here just for his leadership...I know Tim's in a funk right now. But I think he's got to have a career path. What's he going to do to get back?"

Fast-forward to Saturday and Tebow is right back where he started—or ended, for that matter. In 2011 the Patriots beat him out of Boston. In 2013 they released him from their ranks.

Tebow hasn't done anything particularly terrible, and maybe that will be the story of his career. He is just stuck in football purgatory, and, of course, he will now be jammed into the quicksand of the media until he finds a way to get out and back onto the football field.