Almost 10 seasons. That is what it took for the last quarterback saddled with the "run first" mentality to become a legitimate threat to pass.
That player's name is Michael Vick.
Please don't check out from this piece immediately. It is completely understood that trying to compare Tim Tebow and Michael Vick (or Tebow to anyone for that matter) will never be accepted as an apples-to-apples debate.
However, the plot of Vick's story might create a very wise road map for Tim Tebow and more importantly, the Denver Broncos.
The "battle" for starting quarterback in Denver is over. It was over the minute that the deal to send Kyle Orton to Miami died.
The Broncos are going to go with the guy who has the more prototypical NFL delivery for a quarterback, and a guy who the veteran players feel give them the best shot to win now.
Still, the practice fields of Dove Valley echo with the comments of Tebow supporters who guarantee as many wins with Tebow starting as Orton, maybe more.
They may not be wrong, and that is where the story of Michael Vick should start to resonate with Broncos coaches, executives and fans.
Coming out of college, it was no secret that if Michael Vick could not run like he did, there was little reason to believe that he could be an NFL quarterback. His mechanics, while certainly not as questioned as Tebow's, were not up to par.
Despite his deficiencies in the throwing game, Vick was as electric a player as there was in the league while with the Atlanta Falcons. His time as a Falcon quarterback also came with two playoff berths.
It is very possible that Tim Tebow could be the same kind of player that Michael Vick was early in his career. His athleticism and ability to extend plays would be tough for a defense to handle and might result in a handful of unexpected victories for the Broncos.
Maybe even enough to clinch a playoff spot or two over the span of six or seven seasons.
At the moment, Broncos fans would likely do anything to experience the playoffs again, even if it meant putting in a young quarterback and hoping for a spark.
This is the point where the stories need to split. Or at least, take Michael Vick's career path and reverse it.
It is true that Michael Vick was a dynamic offensive star prior to his incarceration. Many teams would have killed for his game-changing ability.
Although now, the question is all the more interesting when teams could choose: Michael Vick with the Falcons or Michael Vick with the Eagles?
There is no question that almost every team in the league would want Vick 2.0 on their roster. The Colts and the Patriots would never admit it, but there are probably times when a sack on Manning or Brady is guaranteed, and they wished that they had Vick in the pocket artfully dodging the rush before unleashing a pass that was almost Manning-like in its delivery.
The point here is that Michael Vick could only become the above-average passer that he proved to be last season, after spending time in a place where he was not accustomed to being: the bench.
Now teams must think twice before saying, "let's make him beat us with his arm," because he has now proven that he can.
Again, this is not an attempt to say that Vick and Tebow shared the same exact flaw that kept them from being a proficient NFL passer out of college. All this might help to prove is that not starting in 2011 could end up being a very good thing for Tim Tebow.
In fact, in Vick's first season, he only made two starts. Last season, Tebow made three. There were flashes of brilliance for both players, but still many questions about prolonged success at quarterback in the NFL.
The very next season, Vick was handed the reins and the Falcons made the playoffs. At that moment, the incentive for Michael Vick to try and grow as an NFL quarterback ceased. He had become the starter despite his faults and never truly reached his full potential in Atlanta.
It took Michael Vick a stunning fall from grace and almost 10 years to find himself in a situation where all he could do was sit and learn. However, if he knew then what he knows now, he might have been begging for at least one more season to sit and learn.
So, the question for Denver Broncos fans and Tim Tebow fans alike is: Would you like to start Tebow now and potentially stunt his growth?
Or, give him one more year on the bench to practice and then see what he is capable of?