The Patriots have signed quarterback Tim Tebow. They may be the only team in the NFL that can manage the consequences. It was a long, cold process for Tebow as he searched for an NFL team to sign with after being cut by the New York Jets. He is a gifted player but there had been no takers. Why?
Tebow had a transcendent Florida career and won the Heisman Trophy. He was drafted in the first round by the Denver Broncos in 2010. When he got a chance to start, he took them on an improbable run of thrilling last-minute victories that electrified the country. The last several minutes of a game were called "Tebow Time." But the signing of Peyton Manning by the Broncos triggered a trade to the Jets.
Tim Tebow may be the most popular player with fans in the NFL. He is handsome, well spoken, a consummate role model. In an era of disturbing headlines regarding athletic misbehavior, his strong principles and spiritual values have made him a beacon of hope. He is a hero to the large following of fundamentalist Christianity. He has vaulted beyond the narrow genre of sports to become a household name -- every move covered with celebrity status. And therein lies the problem.
Unless Tebow is the starting quarterback for a team it puts extreme pressure on the starter. The minute the incumbent quarterback throws an interception or loses a game the "We Want Tebow" chants start. A starting quarterback needs rhythm and stability and confidence.
Doug Flutie, former BC, CFL, Patriot, Bear and Charger quarterback, had a similar effect based on his college heroics and good looks. The difficulty arises because of the widely shared doubt that Tebow has the package of skills necessary to lead a team to a Super Bowl at the quarterback position.
He is undersized. He does not throw a consistently accurate ball, nor have the arm strength for the deep pass required in today's offense. He is not a speedy scrambler. He is, however, a gifted athlete with exemplary work habits and football instincts. Used correctly in a novel way in the offense he can be an effective weapon. But, the deeply held belief inside the NFL that he is not a viable candidate for a starting quarterback job is not shared by much of the public.
The only type of franchise that can withstand the media barrage that will occasion his signing and the endless coverage of his every move is a secure, stable, winning team with a popular superstar with proven results at the quarterback position. Enter the Patriots.
-- Leigh Steinberg has represented many of the most successful athletes and coaches in football, basketball, baseball, hockey, boxing and golf, including the first overall pick in the NFL draft an unprecedented eight times, among more than 60 first-round selections. His clients have included Hall of Fame quarterbacks Steve Young, Troy Aikman and Warren Moon, and he served as the inspiration for the movie "Jerry Maguire." Follow him on Twitter @SteinbergSports.