The Denver Broncos have traded quarterback Tim Tebow to the New York Jets, according to multiple reports, a move that isn’t stunning in that it comes a day after Denver signed Peyton Manning.
The acquisition of Tebow also comes after the Jets extended the contract of quarterback Mark Sanchez.
According to ESPNNewYork.com, the Jets will send a fourth-round draft pick to the Broncos for Tebow.
In a news conference Tuesday to introduce new quarterback Manning, Broncos executive John Elway praised Tebow but added: “I think with the opportunity to have Peyton Manning’s services, we had to take advantage of that. Now that it’s happened, we have to go back and address Tim and see what the best situation is for the Denver Broncos as well as him.”
A clear sign that the wheels were in motion to move away from Tebow was the fact the club removed all action shots of him from the hallways and meeting rooms of its headquarters.
In a phone call to Tebow on Monday night, Elway informed him that the Broncos were signing Manning. Tebow was disappointed, Elway said, but typically positive in his reaction.
“He said, ‘Well, we’re talking about Peyton Manning. I understand exactly what you’re doing,’” Elway explained. “He was very, very positive.”
Tebow, a Heisman Trophy winner from the University of Florida, rocketed to NFL stardom last season even though he was already well known from his success in college football.
Last season, Tebowmania captivated Denver and, in fact, the entire NFL, as the quarterback presided over five come-from-behind victories, including three in overtime, and the Broncos made the playoffs. He replaced Kyle Orton as the starter after the Broncos got off to a 1-4 start.
Even though he completed just 46.5% of his passes during the regular season, he found ways to win with his legs – he ran for 660 yards and six touchdowns – and with the help of Denver’s at-times outstanding defense and special-teams units.
The height of Tebowmania came in Denver’s first playoff game, at home against Denver, when the Broncos stunned the favored Steelers in overtime, 29-23, and Tebow put on a passing display with a season-high 316 yards. The game-winner came on the first play of overtime, when he connected with Demaryius Thomas over the middle and the receiver turned upfield and beat the Steelers to the end zone for an 80-yard touchdown.
As polarizing as Tebow was in Denver – with part of the fan base arguing he deserved to be the starter, another part dismissing him as a gimmick who should be holding a clipboard – everyone could agree that the performance against the Steelers was spectacular.
The next week, the Broncos were obliterated by New England in a divisional game, 45-10, in which Tebow completed just nine of 26 passes and was sacked five times by the league’s 31st-ranked defense.
After the season, Elway, vice president of football operations, said Tebow had earned the right to be the No. 1 quarterback heading into training camp, but wouldn’t commit to him being the 2012 starter.
It wasn’t Elway who drafted Tebow. It was former Broncos coach Josh McDaniels, who made the surprising move to trade back into the first round and select him 25th overall in 2010.
That investment accounted for a small part of the pressure to get him on the field, however. Much larger was the nonstop pressure from Tebow’s legions of supporters from coast to coast, fans who argued – with merit – that all he does is win. Millions of fans embraced Tebow for his Christian values, too, and the quarterback’s habit of dropping to a knee to pray became known as “Tebowing.”
“I don’t think we’ll ever see another situation like this again,” Elway told The Times last season. “It’s a phenomenon. The reason why it’s a phenomenon is because he’s a great kid. If there was a kid I’d want to marry my daughter, it would be Tim Tebow.”
At 6-foot-3, 236 pounds, Tebow is built like a slightly undersized linebacker. He has that same aggressive approach to running too, and he’s supremely conditioned, allowing him to keep playing hard while others around him are fading.
“Tim Tebow is as strong in the fourth quarter – and I’m talking about speed and endurance and quickness and emotion – he has as much or more in the fourth quarter as he has in the first quarter,” Hall of Fame coach John Madden told The Times. “And your defense doesn’t.”