The Silver Lining: Broncos hoping to rid Denver of both Tim Tebow and Tebowmania

By Adam Silverstein
March 19, 2012

March 19 will forever be known as Victory Monday in the Denver Broncos’ front office as executive vice president of football operations John Elway and head coach John Fox got one step closer to reaching their offseason goal – ridding Mile High of quarterback Tim Tebow and perhaps more importantly “Tebowmania.”

Despite comments to the contrary in the offseason, it is a badly kept secret that Elway and Fox do not believe Tebow could become a viable long-term starting quarterback in the NFL. As if Elway’s stone-faced expressions every time Tebow threw or ran for a game-winning touchdown during the 2011 season were not proof enough.

But with a fan base in love with their star signal caller and the team finding unexpected levels of success behind the former Heisman Trophy winner, Denver only had one move to make if they wanted to get Tebow out of dodge.

The Broncos had to sign the one man, the one quarterback that would make Denver fans cast Tebow aside and unite behind an organizational decision to get rid of the guy who led their team to their first playoff victory since 2005-06.

That man is Peyton Manning and Elway did everything he could to get him to supplant Tebow including offering him what is expected to be a five-year contract worth approximately $95 million if all incentives are reached.

(No one can or should blame Elway for making a play for Manning – any good front office executive would have. At this point in his career, Manning is the far better quarterback and can bring the team to a higher level of success sooner than Tebow could.)

Even if Elway did not secure Manning this offseason, the plan was already in place to spend a high draft pick on a quarterback. Reports out of Colorado had Oklahoma State’s Brandon Weeden extremely high on Elway’s radar.

It was not just that Elway and Fox do not believe in Tebow and his future in the league. The Broncos as an organization have already bled every dollar they could out of the Tebowmania phenomenon.


Tebow sold hundreds of thousands of No. 15 jerseys (as well as other clothing and memorabilia), brought in amazing ratings for Denver games and provided the franchise with an unprecedented amount of media attention.

He set records on Twitter, was the No. 1 topic on every sports program across the country and even had two one-hour editions of ESPN’s SportsCenter dedicated to debating things he had already accomplished and his future in the league.

But all of that media coverage – all of that attention – made getting rid of Tebow even more difficult (and therefore more important) for the Broncos. And the “-mania” affixed to his last name all season long is undoubtedly the primary reason his trade value is so low (speculated to be a fourth-round pick at best).

Tebow’s popularity, which he did not ask for but undoubtedly embraces, may be his biggest flaw. He has already proven that he can succeed (to what level remains to be determined) with his unorthodox throwing motion. His accuracy is steadily improving. His ability to win NFL games is now well-documented.

To paraphrase a comment NFL.com reporter Jeff Darlington made on Twitter, it is an oversimplified yet still mind-boggling statement to note that a quarterback that dominated Pittsburgh’s defense in a 2012 playoff game could be acquired for a fifth-round pick (or perhaps even less) just a few months later.

Tebow may not be everyone’s ideal quarterback but denying his accomplishments as a young player in this league is foolish. He has made all of these strides without ever having a full offseason as an incumbent starter. Tebow brought a team that had not only given up on their season but also traded away their best wide receiver prior to his first start all the way to the playoffs – and won a game, too.

That being said, teams interested in adding him have to not only want to take a chance on Tebow but simultaneously deal with “Tebowmania” and perhaps even give up some compensation for that opportunity.

Otherwise trading a late-round pick for a player with his record and extremely high ceiling is a no-brainer move for a competent front office.

What team wants to put their incumbent quarterback in a situation where fans may very well call for his ousting unless he performs at the highest level possible? What head coach wants to tie his future to Tebow, a player who has been thoroughly disrespected behind closed doors with anonymous assistants, coaches and executives repeatedly doubting his ability to any of the number of reporters that would listen?

It is going to take a strong football mind or someone with an unabashedly concrete belief in Tebow to take that leap. That is why New England and Bill Belichick, the team and coach that were probably the most snug fit for Tebow coming out of college, are still probably his best opportunity to succeed long-term in this league.

Belichick, offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels (who drafted Tebow when he was head coach in Denver) and owner Robert Kraft understand what “winners” look like. The front office often has success at finding talented athletes in the draft and developing them into successful NFL players.

Should Tebow not wind up in New England, one has to wonder what will become of his career. What team will give him a legitimate opportunity to not only win the starting job but also compete at a high level by surrounding him with a talented supporting cast?

There are plenty of fans that believe in Tebow’s ability but unless he finds a team that shares their optimism, a situation could arise where he may not even have the opportunity to prove himself on the field.

The feather in Tebow’s cap in this regard is agent Jimmy Sexton, someone who carries a lot of weight in league circles and is known to work hard for his clients.

Even if the Broncos somehow reverse course and decide to keep Tebow in the fold (whether they want to see if he can develop or simply do not receive any offers of worthwhile compensation for the player), it would make sense that Sexton does what he can to get him out of a toxic situation in Denver.

Tebow undoubtedly believes he is capable of being a starting NFL signal caller. Though he might be convinced to be patient and content while learn the ropes from a player of Manning’s caliber in the short-term, his contract (set to expire after the 2014 season) makes that situation unlikely. He will not want to languish on the bench behind Manning only to see his contract run out and the Broncos fail to re-sign him.

Additionally, Manning decided to go to Mile High to win now, not to tutor Tebow. Would Manning as a teacher be everything – and more – that Tebow needs to be as successful as possible in this league? Probably. Unfortunately, that is neither the mindset of the organization nor the player who would have to help him learn the ropes.

That is why – 71 days removed from his record-setting overtime touchdown pass against Pittsburgh – Tebow’s NFL future is murky at best.

What is clear, however, is that Elway and Fox ultimately got their wish.

And Tebow has two more names to add to the long list of detractors he can address while filming his next FRS Energy commercial.

19 Comments

  1. CH says:

    Everything I’ve heard about Peyton is just the opposite of Tebow. Indy players despised being around the guy so this will be a huge locker room adjustment from Tebow. I’m sure its welcomed because of the potential that Manning brings, but in regards to the question about Manning being everything Tebow needs as a tutor – not likely.

  2. Luke says:

    Tebow to Jax or Miami? Either might be a better situation, although I don’t know much about the coaches at either team or their philosophy. As much as I got some Tebow fatigue last season, he’s definitely better than AT LEAST the bottom third of the starting quarterbacks in the league… He’ll land on his feet and be fine.

  3. SC Gator says:

    Going to laugh my ass of when Manning gets knocked out again.

    • John says:

      It’s guys like you who never played football that makes stupid comments like yours. No fan
      should be happy that any player is hurt jackwagon.

  4. GatorKen says:

    I hope denver misses the playoffs with Manning 😀

  5. scooterp says:

    I don’t know what else the guy has to do. It seems that so many in the NFL and media circles are hell bent on him falling flat on his face that they’re foaming at the mouth. I’ve never said he would be an elite QB in this league and to be honest I thought Denevr grabbing him in the first round was a huge gamble………. but damn, you can not deny the impact he had on the Bronco organization or the culture on a team that was a total dumpster fire a seasona and a half ago. I don’t know if there is an athlete less deserving of the redicule he seems to face from “experts”. I hope he holds his head up high and bounces back from this and beats the crap out of the Broncos when they play.

  6. Nick says:

    Adam, parts of that read like it was from the onion.

    On a side note, this could be the best thing for Tebow’s career, the opportunity to go to a franchise that really wants him and will be patient with his development as a passer and design an offense around him. And like Adam said, you can’t blame the Denver front office for landing a guy of Manning’s ability when presented with the opportunity to do so.

      • Ken (CA) says:

        I think that it is laughingly unbelievable. While I probably wouldn’t have made that analogy, I think it is amazing what Tebow has done for Denver and how badly they are treating him. Lost most respect I had for Elway over how he handled this and then this final event.

  7. GatorsAlumLA says:

    Tim will land on his feet and do just fine. Let’s all stop overreacting and focus on The real issues.

  8. Ken (CA) says:

    I am hearing there is a good chance that he could land in New England. I was never a big Belichik fan, but with his Gator ties, his ability to develop talent, Tom Brady to be a true totor, I think Tebow could thrive there…

  9. John S says:

    I’m curious how successful Manning can be in Denver. The O-line was horrendous at handling the pass rush. Manning is not used to being hit, he’s the softest QB in the league. He cried for a flag every time a defensive player pushed him.

    The receivers while talented are also very different than what he was used to in Indy, and the defense is not nearly as dominant as people think. They were utterly demolished in the playoff game against the Patriots. I don’t think Denver is a great team, without Tebow they were bottom feeders, I’m surprised Peyton wanted to play there.

    Come on Jags bring him home. Suck it up Gene Smith, aka worst offensive talent evaluator in the league.

  10. MAR says:

    Elway will be vilified in Denver when the Manning project fails as Tebow is succeeding elsewhere. I see this this being a historically bad move. Not yet though, I give it two years without play offs and the Denver faithful minds will begin wondering…….What if ?!? Although, it is hard to blame Elway for wanting Peyton. Tebow is only going to get better..The curse of Tebow has begun in Denver.

    • Ken (CA) says:

      While I tend to agree with your comment, not so sure. Manning has horrid receivers in Denver, Tebow had a lot of passes that were just dropped, not his fault. Manning could succeed just by sheer talent and knowledge of the game. Never underestimate him, he is one of the best QB ever in the NFL, even if (as I proudly state when anyone discusses him), he went 0-4 against UF in his career. He can do great things, but he has never had as mediocre receivers as he will now how have, or as raw as they may draft next month to try and help him.

      I don’t wish ill on Payton, because I think he is one of best QB ever in the league, but I hope Elway is proven wrong in giving up on someone who may not have the best skills, but has that winning instinct, and will do everything it takes to win.

      Tebow is a winner pure and simple, whatever it takes he gets the job done. Elways doesn’t get it because his passing talent always led the team…he forgets the 3 super bowls he lost just because he doesn’t have that same mentality and relied purely on talent..

      • MAR says:

        The receiver issue is one of the reasons I think Peyton will have a tough time settling in Denver. Also, will Peyton be as good as in the past? I definitely question how long he will last with that porous offensive line. This has all the ingredients to go down as one of the worst decisions (or best) of all times when Denver is stuck with no QB and no playoffs. It’s not what I hope, it’s what my crystal ball is telling me.

  11. Ripley says:

    Adam, you have hit the nail on the head. The only way for these people to get out from under the umbrella that is TEBOWMANIA is to bring in a hall of famer. Its the only way the fan base wont totally revolt into hatred for the entire organization. John Elway, John Fox, and the offensive coordinator all put there professional experience and pride in there pockets to win football games with Tebow. Doesn’t mean they didn’t enjoy it. Doesn’t mean it wasn’t good at the time. But the craziness, the media, the questions all became overwhelming and borderline ridiculous. They had to do this to move on. If not every year would be a crap shoot. As for where he might land or end up? The only team that has anything to gain from adding him would be Jacksonville Jaguars, just in media attention, and tickets sales in no other manner. The team is in a new direction and this isn’t what they want but it might be what they need. I love the idea of New England. One, he is reunited with the man that had the vision for him. Two, he gets to learn from a 5-time super bowl participant in Tom Brady. Three, Mr. Coach Belicheck will get the most if anything out Mr. Tebow. Think about the power package they have lacked on the goal line since there last title, I think that problem would be solved with #15. But the fan in me is very hurt for Tim. The football coach in me understands completely what is going on.

  12. Mack says:

    My hope for Tim, the fans and the Jags is that they unite, rally and make Jacksonville a large-market team, then…………bring Josh McDaniel in as HC and resume the greatness they would have had in Denver

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