Manning chooses Denver, Tebow on the way out?

The chase for Peyton Manning lasted two weeks and in the end it was the Denver Broncos that wound up at the front of the line as Manning decided Monday to finish his career in Mile High. With a new quarterback headed to town, the question in league circles now becomes: What becomes of former Florida Gators signal caller Tim Tebow’s future with the team?

Released by the Indianapolis Colts on March 7, Manning met with representatives from five teams over the ensuing week. Arizona, Miami, San Francisco and Tennessee all had an opportunity to land the Super Bowl XLI MVP and 11-time Pro Bowler but in the end it was the Broncos that won the sweepstakes.

Now the focus of the national media and football fans everywhere turns to Tebow and where he will play football in 2012 and beyond.

Denver picked Kyle Orton to start the first five games of the 2011 season and began with a paltry 1-4 record. Tebow was installed as the Broncos’ starter against Miami and rallied the team to win seven of their next eight games including three in overtime and six in which Denver was either tied or losing at some point in the fourth quarter.

He also helped the Broncos advance to the playoffs for the first time since 2005 where he fueled a 29-23 overtime victory of Pittsburgh in the wild card round. Tebow threw for 316 yards with two touchdowns, ran for 50 yards and another score, and posted a quarterback rating of 125.6 in the contest. He also completed a game-winning 80-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Demaryius Thomas just seconds into overtime to send the Mile High faithful into a frenzy.

With the offseason in full swing, Denver executive vice president of football operations John Elway and head coach John Fox both spoke kindly of Tebow though neither showed a high level of enthusiasm in his future.

“Hopefully, he can be the franchise guy for a long time, but those are things we don’t know at this time,” Elway said on Feb. 24. “He made tremendous strides last year, and that’s without an offseason. He’s our starter going into training camp, and we have great expectations for him.”

The Broncos were always planning to bring two more quarterbacks in to compete with Tebow even has he held the starting job, but signing Manning obviously changes that dynamic. Tebow will no longer be the “starter going into training camp” and now may not even be with the team next season.

Since the Manning derby began, multiple reports have stated that Elway and Fox intended to trade or release Tebow should they land their horse. Others noted that Elway saw bringing in Manning as the only way to escape “Tebowmania” and give the team an opportunity to move on from a player they invested from a previous regime and were obviously not comfortable with from jump street.

In addition to his presence with the club, Manning expected to sign a three- or four-year deal and finish his career in Denver. Tebow, finding success after being thrust into the starting role to conclude each of the last two seasons, undoubtedly believes he is capable of being a starting NFL signal caller.

Though he probably would have been content to sit and learn the ropes from a player of Manning’s caliber in the short-term, Tebow’s 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 to be the heir-apparent to his replacement.

And Denver’s front office, which never fully bought into Tebow’s ability to be a starting NFL quarterback despite his success on the field in 2011, will likely prefer to draft someone better suited to their philosophy and allow him to develop behind Manning.

All eyes now remain in Colorado but shift from Manning to Tebow and his agent Jimmy Sexton. Unless there is a miracle in Mile High or at least a change of heart by Broncos management including a peace offering to Tebow, the former Heisman Trophy winner will likely be looking for a new place to call home sooner than later.

Photo Credit: Associated Press

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Review – Tim Tebow: Everything in Between

It is not often we get the chance to do entertainment reviews, though we always appreciate the opportunity. So when I found out that ESPN had chosen to send me a rough cut of Tim Tebow: Everything in Between (debuting on the network on Jan. 6 at 7 p.m.), I was psyched to view it before the general public and review it for you.

With a four-minute trailer for the then-unsold film released in September by Fiction and XV Enterprises, I knew going into my viewing that the movie began after the conclusion of the 2010 Sugar Bowl and lasted until Tebow had his name called with the No. 25 overall pick of the 2010 NFL Draft just over three months later.

What I did not anticipate, however, was how comprehensive, expertly produced and well-edited the film would be. Two things I look for in any production – documentaries especially – are their ability to capture my attention and then whether or not they can hold that attention for their duration. Chase Heavener gives the viewer a brief yet broad behind-the-scenes look at the process Tebow went through to make the transition from Florida Gators legend to legitimate NFL prospect.

The viewer has the opportunity to see Tebow do everything from participating in interviews with Sports Illustrated and ESPN to conducting one of his own with his future agent Jimmy Sexton in a board room at the University of Florida.

“All this looks really good and is really fancy and is really nice. And ya’ll speak really well. But a lot of people around the country either believe in me or don’t believe in me. Or they say I can do this and I can’t do this,” Tebow says while fidgeting with a packet of information after listening to Sexton’s best sales pitch. “If you want to draft me then draft me. If you want to recruit me or you think I can be a quarterback, then I will be. If not, then don’t talk to me because I want somebody that wants me. And I want an agent that wants me and believes that I am going to be a quarterback and believes that I am going to be good at what I do. And why do you think I will be?”

From there the documentary takes you to D1 Sports Training in Nashville, TN, where Tebow threw so many passes while working on adjusting his mechanics that the gloves he was wearing were literally torn apart. The viewer observes as he struggles mightily at the 2010 Under Armour Senior Bowl and is pummeled with criticism from analysts including ESPN’s Todd McShay, who is portrayed throughout the film as the antagonist for Tebow’s protagonist.

Both his physical and mental toughness are tested continuously throughout his journey. Tebow trucks on through an infection during the Senior Bowl even finding humor when a doctor feeding a tube down his nose asks if it has even been broken. “Who knows? Probably,” he quips. The level of exertion he puts in to each and every workout – he says – is not matched by any other college football player in the country.

Tebow shows the ability to block out detractors by ignoring McShay, who he hears doubting his ability to play at the next level on a blasting television in the background while he signs dozens of autographs and is surrounded by friends, family and business associates. He also defends his decision to participate in the controversial Focus on the Family Super Bowl commercial alongside his mother.

“Whoever you are, you can at least respect that I have an opinion on [abortion] and that I believe in something and that I’m going to stand up for what I believe,” he says. “That’s something that I’m taking pride in, that I’m standing up or what I believe in, and I’m showing conviction about something. For me, that’s big.”

With the hard work and dedication complete, Tebow’s largest looming decision – one that garnered much media attention – was where he would actually watch the draft that would decide his professional future. Contrary to popular belief that delaying his decision was a publicity stunt, Tebow’s indecision less than 48 hours before the draft is put at the forefront as Sexton pleads for him to make a choice.

Sexton himself proves to be a pivotal figure in Tebow’s tale, especially in the film’s final scenes. He tells the family exactly how he has projected the draft, is met with trepidation when things do not go as smooth as planned, and then is as excited as a school boy when his original prediction – “My bet is Denver from 22 to 30.” – comes to fruition.

Whether you are a fan of Tebow’s or someone who feels a strong sense of disdain for him, the Heisman Trophy winner and two-time National Champion ends up in the role of the underdog by the documentary’s end. Being exposed to Tebow’s character on a more personal basis puts the viewer in a position where one would have to be stone cold inside not to be genuinely happy for him when he receives a phone call from the 303 area code as the story nears its end.

As comprehensive as Heavener’s film is, its short run time of 50 minutes (due to television programming restrictions) does his work an injustice. With three months of film collected there is bound to be at least another 20 minutes of compelling material that unfortunately must have hit the cutting room floor. It is worth holding out hope that an extended edition will be available in some form at a later date.

Tim Tebow: Everything in Between is the first in a series of shows set to be a part of ESPN’s Year of the Quarterback programming initiative, a year-long examination into the lives and careers of quarterbacks from high school to the pros.

Photo Credit: Jeremy Cowart

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QB Tim Tebow, Broncos agree on five-year deal

After missing the first two days of rookie camp while trying to reach an agreement on his initial contract, former Florida Gators quarterback Tim Tebow signed a five-year, $11.25 million deal with the Denver Broncos on Thursday.

The Broncos, who selected Tebow with the No. 25 overall pick in the first round of the 2010 NFL Draft, have guaranteed the signal caller $8.7 million – $400,000 more than wide receiver Dez Bryant, the No. 24 overall pick, received. The fifth first-round pick to sign, he will report to rookie camp Friday.

Tebow’s contract has a maximum value of $33 million, a figure he can reach if he hits a number of incentives and escalators, many of which may be unlikely to attain. Escalator categories can include playing time, starting snaps, statistics, league awards, etc.

Agent Jimmy Sexton was successful in his attempt to get Tebow more in guaranteed money than Bryant and an 18.5 percent raise over the No. 25 pick in 2009.

Only two former Florida players – cornerback Joe Haden (Cleveland) and center/guard Maurkice Pouncey (Pittsburgh) – remain unsigned by their respective clubs.

Photo Credit: Ed Andrieski/Associated Press

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Broncos, QB Tim Tebow nearing agreement

Multiple reports coming out of Colorado on Wednesday have the Denver Broncos and former Florida Gators quarterback Tim Tebow nearing an agreement on a five-year rookie contract.

Tebow’s agent, Jimmy Sexton, is apparently asking that his client, the No. 25 pick in the 2010 NFL Draft, receive more money than wide receiver Dez Bryant (selected 24th by Dallas) – a customary request, especially for first-round signal callers.

According to ESPN’s Ed Werder, Sexton insists Tebow receive a larger deal including higher base salaries and a more substantial signing bonus because of his position.

ESPN, The Denver Post and NFL Network all confirm that the two sides are “feverishly” working toward an agreement and that the deal is “close” to being completed. Negotiations intensified Tuesday evening and continued throughout the day Wednesday; a resolution is expected within 24-48 hours.

With the Broncos opening rookie camp on Wednesday, Werder said head coach Josh McDaniels reached out to Tebow over the phone to try and get him in on time.

“You’re missing time and you can’t afford to miss it,” McDaniels supposedly said. “You’re not going to get these snaps back.”

Fellow Denver first-round pick, WR Demaryius Thomas, is also unsigned and likely won’t be until Tebow’s deal is worked out. Training camp officially begins on Aug. 1.

Photo Credit: Ed Andrieski/Associated Press

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TWO BITS: Tebow praised, Beal struggles

1 » As agent Jimmy Sexton attempts to get his client under contract before training camp officially begins on Aug. 1, former Florida Gators quarterback Tim Tebow of the Denver Broncos is working to accomplish at least one feat: winning over his new teammates. Outsider linebacker Darrell Reid has already noticed Tebow’s work ethic and came away impressed with what the Heisman Trophy winner has to offer.

“I’ve actually sat down with Tebow. I call him Lucky Lefty,” Reid said. “I told him, ‘I know they say you’re not as talented, your arm’s not as tremendous as his, but your work ethic reminds me so much of when I was with Peyton [Manning] in Indianapolis.’ I told him, ‘I think you’re going to do big things for us, and I can’t wait to see you get on the field.’ […] I think the thing people don’t know about him is he’s a very, very, very, very hard worker. He’s almost like a perfectionist. That’s what carries him further. Most people who end up being great, it’s because they want to be great and wind up working harder than everybody else. Whether it’s working on his throwing motion or in the weight room or running, he’s almost always the last guy out of the building. He’s a very humble kid, and he’s a proven winner who will do whatever it takes. That’s why we love him.”

2 » Competing in the championship of the AAU U-17 Super Showcase on Tuesday, Gators five-star shooting guard commitment Brad Beal (St. Louis, MO) and former Florida five-star guard commit Austin Rivers (Winter Park, FL) squared off. Unfortunately for Beal, who called it his “worst game ever” on Facebook, he finished with only 12 points on 5-of-15 shooting (1-for-5 from downtown). Rivers, on the other hand, shined with 24 points including a highlight package alley-oop dunk in the first half.

After the game, Rivers spoke with reporters and said that he does not have a favorite in his recruitment with UF, Duke and North Carolina occupying the top three spots in no particular order. “Right now I’m not leaning toward anybody and I like all schools the same,” Rivers said. “I haven’t taken any official visits yet so I don’t have any favorites over the others. But I’m really looking forward to making the visits.”

Photo Credit: Ed Andrieski/Associated Press

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Tim Tebow signs endorsement deal with Jockey

Former Florida Gators quarterback Tim Tebow, now of the Denver Broncos, has signed a multi-year endorsement deal with Jockey, the company announced Tuesday.

Tebow has agreed to serve as a Jockey spokesperson and the face of the brand beginning in July 2010. It is the third major endorsement deal his agent, Jimmy Sexton, has helped his client sign, following agreements with EA Sports and Nike.

Below are a few quotes from the company’s official press release:

“Tim is a highly gifted athlete with a positive attitude and an admirable character,” remarked Jockey Chairman and CEO Debra S. Waller. “We at Jockey see a very bright future with Tim, and believe that he is an excellent representative for the brand. Tim is genuine, smart and driven and those qualities align well with Jockey. We look forward to building a long and collaborative relationship with him in the coming years.”

“I’m excited to represent the Jockey brand and to work with such an innovative company,” said Tebow. “I’ve long been a fan and consumer of Jockey, and think they make a quality product with a great fit. I’m looking forward to a great relationship with such a respectable company.”

The No. 25 overall pick in the first round of the 2010 NFL Draft, Tebow is set to be featured in catalog, television, print and online advertisements with Jockey. He will be a prominent part of Jockey’s new “Staycool” collection, scheduled to launch in Spring 2011.

As for his answer to the ultimate question of boxers vs. briefs?

“I go with briefs because they are more comfortable and better fitting,” Tebow said according to Darren Rovell of CNBC.

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Tebow reportedly turns down seven-figure deals

His respective endorsement deals with EA Sports and Nike have garnered plenty of publicity and earned him some good money, but the additional opportunities former Florida Gators quarterback Tim Tebow has turned down since joining the Denver Broncos are likely much more lucrative.

According to The Commercial Appeal, Tebow has “declined some seven-figure per year deals because he thought they would interfere with his football preparation,” opting to concentrate on working out before his first NFL training camp.

“I’m trying to work hard and not get my mind cluttered with all that,” Tebow said while working out in Memphis, TN. “When it gets to the point when something needs to be presented to me, I see it. Right now, it’s all ball for me.”

Tebow’s agent, Jimmy Sexton, realizes his client’s appeal and thinks there will be plenty of opportunities for him coming in both the near and distant future.

“Within the next five years, Tim clearly has a chance to be one of the most endorsable athletes on the planet,” Sexton told the paper this week. “I had one CEO of a major Fortune 500 company tell me, ‘You know what, Jimmy? For a corporation to put a face on their brand, this guy is the real deal. He’s the one guy who’s not going to be a scandal two or three years from now.'”

These mysterious “seven-figure per year” opportunities make his $300,000 Nike contract appear paltry by comparison. But being a NFL quarterback has never been all about money for Tebow.

“You have to decide what you have to be proud about, and being a football player doesn’t make you any more special than anyone else,” Tebow said. “Football gives me a platform and with that platform comes a responsibility and obligation to make a difference in people’s lives.”

Tebow has been working out in Memphis in preparation for Broncos training camp.

Photo Credit: Associated Press, (original) Donald Miralle/Getty Images

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Tebow knows where he will land in 2010 NFL Draft

ESPN and USA Today are both profiling former Florida Gators quarterback Tim Tebow in anticipation of the 2010 NFL Draft set to begin Thursday night at 7:30 p.m.

Tebow’s agent, Jimmy Sexton, claims that his client is already aware of exactly when he will be drafted and where he will be headed. Seriously.

“Yep,” Sexton said when asked by ESPN. “I don’t know if it’s gonna shock the world because I always thought he was going to do well. But we pretty much know. We have a pretty good idea what’s going to happen.”

Asked if Tebow is set up to become the most marketable athlete in history, Sexton was just as confident. “He will be, he will be,” he said.” Not sure how that speaks to his paltry $300,000 contract with Nike.

Speaking with USA Today, Sexton amped up the hype by relating what one top guy told him about Tebow. “I had one [NFL] head coach say to me, ‘I won’t tell you whether he can make it, but I’ll never say he can’t because I don’t want to be the guy who looks like an idiot. I wouldn’t bet against him,'” he said.

The only thing that one can be certain of right now is that Tebow will be drafted – by some team at some point – Thursday or Friday. Only that team – and apparently Tebow and Sexton – know the details.

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