Unless something unexpectedly changes over the next few weeks, former Florida Gators quarterback Tim Tebow will not play a down of football in the 2013 NFL regular season after failing to earn a roster spot with the New England Patriots in August.
Though there have been a rash of quarterback injuries this season and a number of less successful and talented signal callers were signed by franchises across the league, Tebow’s phone did not ring with another opportunity. Teams are either not interested in Tebow’s talent, still balking at the so-called “circus” that follows him…or both. And he has shown no willingness to attempt and extend his career by taking a shot at playing across the border in the CFL or even at home in the AFL.
Instead, he has spent the entire year out west working on his game with personal instructors while exploring another career path – broadcaster. Tebow has even gone so far as to hire Creative Arts Agency broadcast agent Nick Khan to represent him in what are believed to be serious negotiations with a number of networks.
It should come as no surprise then that ESPN, which is launching the SEC Network in August 2014 and looking for a headline-grabbing talent, and CBS, which owns the rights to the Southeastern Conference game of the week, are two of three major networks already vying for Tebow’s on-air services.
According to Jason McIntyre of TheBigLead.com, FOX Sports is also in the running though certainly a distant third both in terms of current plans and potential opportunities.
McIntyre reports that ESPN plans for Tebow to have a featured role on the SEC Network in what could be considered the “Kirk Herbstreit chair” on the new channel’s version of College GameDay. The program would be hosted by Rece Davis (taking Chris Fowler’s spot) and also feature Paul Finebaum (for Lee Corso) and another former SEC player (who would take on a hybrid Desmond Howard-David Pollack position).
Update: The SEC Network announced Friday that Joe Tessitore will host the show, which has been titled SEC Nation.
CBS already has its studio lineup in place, but McIntyre notes that the network would be “willing to blow up its pregame show and make major changes if it lands Tebow.”
There should be no question that ESPN is the favorite here.
Not only has the network been in the Tebow business for years, promoting and featuring him ad nauseam, the number of opportunities it could offer him is astronomical. Tebow could appear on the aforementioned program, serve as an analyst throughout the week on multiple networks (including the primary ESPN channel and ESPNU, for example) and perhaps work his way into an occasional (or eventual) color commentary role. Don’t forget that ESPN also has Urban Meyer on its side.
CBS, on the other hand, has a much more limited platform. Its sole selling point may be its willingness to thrust Tebow before a national audience immediately while ESPN hopes to place him on a branded network. Then again, Tebow could certainly negotiate a national role with the Worldwide Leader in Sports, and ESPN would have to accommodate.
One way or another, whether on the field or behind a microphone, Tebow will be back on your television soon. How, when and where it happens will be something to keep an eye on over the next few months.
Photo Credit: Associated Press