Tim Tebow was released by the Jacksonville Jaguars earlier today. He just turned 34 years old three days ago, so while he could be signed to the practice squad, this is most likely the end of his football playing days. Tebow is one of the most controversial players in the history of football. Here's a little history.
Tebow burst onto the scene as a freshman for the Florida Gators. If the Gators got near the end zone, they let Tebow blast it in on a short yardage run. He continued to do that throughout his college career, and if you stacked the line, he would pull up and hit a receiver for a long gain or touchdown. A lot of people can do that, but not many win TWO National Championships and virtually no one else with those accomplishments proclaimed his Christian faith like Tebow. He would kneel in prayer before games and wear eye black with Bible references written on them. (Those were later banned from college football. I'm not sure what group of geniuses got together and decided to ban them!) His outward display of faith and leadership of the highly successful Gators led to a ton of media coverage. Almost no one was in the middle on Tebow. You either loved him or hated him. He went on to win the Heisman Trophy for the 2007 season. He would often take a knee and put his fist to his forehead to thank God for blessings and good fortune. He did it so many times that the move became known as "Tebowing." Not bowing but Te-bowing. Get it?
Tebow went into the NFL draft after four years at Florida. Almost nobody thought he would be drafted in the first round because most experts thought his lack of pure passing skills would lead to a very unsuccessful NFL career, but it only takes one team to believe otherwise, and the Denver Broncos took Tebow with the 25th overall pick in the first round in 2010. I've never in my life heard as much bellyaching from NFL media members. Many said it was the worst first round pick ever. Then, something rather amazing happened. Tebow won the starting QB job about midway through the 2011 season. Do you remember what happened in 2011? I do. I really didn't care if Denver won or lost in 2011, but what I witnessed was more than amazing. It was impossible. In the interest of the time it takes you to read this post, I'll leave out a lot of the details of some of the games, but Denver won a number of games that they should not have won. No way, no how. They were down two touchdowns to Miami with a little under three minutes to play. Tebow rallied Denver to two touchdowns to send the game into overtime where they won it 18-15. The haters said it was pure luck and wouldn't happen again. What followed were several games where Denver's offense did next to nothing until the very end of the game and then miraculously came back to win. After Miami, came a win at the Raiders, a four point win against the Jets, a three point win against the Chargers, and a three point win against the Vikings. Tebow Magic was the phrase being used. By this time the haters were about to burst blood vessels in their necks. They wanted to complain more, but what could they say?! Along about the Chargers game, I had decided that Tebow was just God's man, and God was going to allow His man to have some "miracle" wins despite his lack of throwing ability.
The coup de grace came in December against the Chicago Bears. Denver needed one more win to make the playoffs. The Bears learned there is no antidote for Tebow Magic. The Broncos had no points for almost 58 minutes. The score was 10-0. The Broncos finally scored a touchdown, but the Bears were able to get the ball. Literally, all they had to do was take a knee three times, and I remember calculating they could run the clock down to about 15 seconds before they had to punt. The game would almost certainly be unwinnable for the Broncos. Inexplicably, Bears RB Marion Barber ran the ball out of bounds on the first play after the two minute warning. At that moment, I remember telling my wife, "The Broncos are going to beat the Bears. I just don't know exactly how it's going to happen." The Bears stayed inbounds after that but had to punt the ball with under a minute to play. Tebow hit a receiver to the Bears 41 yard line, then with just eight seconds left, Matt Prater hit a 59 yard FG to send it into overtime. FIFTY-NINE YARDS in cold weather? Are you kidding me? Wait! It gets better! The Bears were moving the ball easily in overtime, and the Broncos defense was exhausted. As Barber moved inside the Denver 35 yard line and into field goal range, he fumbled the ball. Tebow moved the ball to the Bears 34 yard line, and Prater hit a 51 yard FG to win it. I looked over at my wife and said, "Told you!" That made five 4th quarter comebacks in his eight starts that year. When reporters asked Tebow about Barber running out of bounds, he said, "I might have thanked the Lord when he did that." The pressroom roared with laughter, but I was thinking... yeah, you probably did!
The cynic might say that it was coincidence. I know better. Never seen anything like that stretch of games. Tebow was indeed God's man. That's why they won some of those games. You will not convince me of anything else. He even won a playoff game that year in overtime against the Steelers with a long pass. He had to play the Patriots next, and since Tom Brady IS God, they lost by 35 points. (Just kidding!)
Tebow was never a great passer of the football, and even Denver decided they couldn't rely on miracles to continue to happen, so they brought in other quarterbacks, and Tebow's time in Denver was done. He tried to come back as a blocking tight end in Jacksonville, but unless the Lord had decided to intervene, that was just too much to ask to learn a new position in your mid-30's. Urban Meyer gave his friend a shot at it. He had seen Tebow's influence on his team at Florida. If nothing else, Tebow's positivity would be good for his Jaguars team.
So, Tebow was released. He posted this on Twitter this morning... "Thank you to the @Jaguars organization and everyone who has supported me in this journey. And we know that…God works all things together for good. Romans 8:28." That is VERY true. So, is Tim Tebow a failure? He didn't succeed at becoming a tight end in the NFL, but I think there's a very good chance he had a positive, Christian influence on players and staff of the Jaguars in the time he was on their team. Have people been saved at the end of talks that Tebow has made? You bet! Could Tebow's influence with the Jaguars lead to a couple of players or staff members ultimately being saved? I wouldn't be the least surprised. While it might not be on the football field, God is not finished with him yet... not by a long shot. Tim Tebow is not a failure at all. He's a man of God who gives Jesus credit at every turn. So, I say he's one of the most successful people to ever play sports.