Inspiring Athletes

In a strange twist to the Peyton Manning saga, the future Hall of Fame quarterback has reportedly signed with the Denver Broncos. Denver was rumored as a possible destination for Manning but many believed he would land somewhere else–say in a warmer climate like Miami or Tennessee, the state where he played his college ball.

So the obvious question now isn’t about Manning’s health. It’s not even about what his receiving corps will look like. No, the obvious question isn’t even about Manning. It’s about Tim Tebow, the starting quarterback Manning is supplanting with this move.

All indicators point to a trade that could land the unconventional athlete in a number of places such as Miami, Jacksonville or even (if you believe the news reports) New England. Inspiring Athletes isn’t looking to get into that debate because it’s a fruitless exercise in speculation at best. But what will be most interesting is how four parties handle the situation:

1. Tim Tebow

2. Denver Broncos fans

3. Tim Tebow fans

4. Tim Tebow haters

Some Denver fans will be torn. They get Peyton Manning. Enough said. But they also lose Tim Tebow who became an overnight icon in the Mile High city. Tim Tebow fans (at least those not in Denver) will likely follow the Tebow Train to wherever it may lead; not too worried about them. Tim Tebow haters will do likewise. They will shower coats of criticism for his unorthodox quarterbacking style and/or his strong Christian beliefs that come out as naturally as a play call from the line of scrimmage.

Then there’s that first name on the list–the actual Tim Tebow.

My guess is that Tebow is as gracious in this situation as he has been during the incredible comeback victories (i.e. the overtime playoffs upset of the Pittsburgh Steelers) and the devastating losses (i.e. the playoffs blowout at the hands of the Patriots). After all, this guy has proven time and again that his life existence is not dependent upon the NFL or his superstar status.

It’s something I was fortunate to learn during his senior year at Florida when then Heisman Trophy winner Tim Tebow responded to some questions via email for a book I was writing at the time called Serving (Regal Books). It was part of a four-part series based on Fellowship of Christian Athletes’ four core values. Here’s what he said back then:

“The message I always try to get across in speaking to various groups is that I am no different than anyone else in the room, despite what people may think because I am a football player,” Tebow said. “When I’ve gone to the Philippines with my dad and hung out with the kids at the orphanage, that’s kept me from letting my whole life get wrapped up in what’s going to happen on fourth down instead of thinking what a blessing it is to have the athletic ability to go out there and play football. That takes a lot of pressure off. It lets me go out there and enjoy playing and have fun.”

Getting traded probably isn’t even Tebow’s idea of fun, but it will be interesting to see how the next few weeks play out as Manning settles into his new job with the Broncos and Tebow moves on to his next NFL opportunity.

UPDATE: Tebow has been traded by Denver to the New York Jets in exchange for a fourth-round draft pick. He will likely become the backup to Mark Sanchez and will possibly add some wrinkles to the team’s offense via assistant coach Tony Sparano’s “Wildcat” formation that utilizes a run-oriented quarterback on certain plays.

A day before the trade, Jets cornerback Antonio Cromartie (and now Tebow teammate) posted this less than inviting comment on his Twitter page:

“We don’t need Tebow. We sell out every home game let him go to Jacksonville Tampa or Miami. Our wildcat offense can b ran by J. Kerley or Joe McKnight we straight”

As if Tebow-mania wasn’t a big enough circus, we now get to experience the phenomenon via the lens of a media-crazed NYC market. Let the fun begin!

Check out Chad’s latest book release Glory of the Games featuring biblical insights from 18 Olympic athletes by clicking HERE.

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