Tebow’s run in Denver lacked the longevity of what Manning accomplished in Indianapolis, but it was nonetheless compelling in its own way.
Somehow, the run-first quarterback with poor throwing mechanics led a going-nowhere Broncos team to the playoffs. No matter how many air balls and grounders Tebow threw while missing wide-open receivers, he found a way to win, going 7-4 in his 11 starts last season and inspiring “Tebowmania.”
Tebow’s most supportive fans are as much interested in his faith as his football ability. A devout Christian, Tebow has kneeled and prayed during games since before he became a football icon at the University of Florida. Tebow’s knack for winning at the game’s highest level combined with his strong faith proved to be a powerful mixture. It launched him into the national conversation beyond sports.
Hall of Fame quarterback John Elway, who runs the Broncos, prefers more polished passers at the position — or at least someone who doesn’t need a crash course in NFL Quarterbacking 101.
The Broncos could have faced a public relations backlash for shipping out Tebow after he engineered their turnaround, including a postseason victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers. But Manning provides a shield for Elway. If Manning holds up physically, it’s a great move. If not, Elway still took a shot at greatness. That’s what the best executives do.
The Broncos traded Tebow to the New York Jets for two draft picks, and the Jets plan for Tebow to play behind three-year starter Mark Sanchez. As soon as Tebow joined the Jets, jokes began about Sanchez’s health — the joke being that Tebow supposedly has friends in high places.
In Indianapolis, fans will miss Manning, but they’ll still root for Luck to have a lot of it. After “Tebowmania” ended in Denver, “Manningmania II” may just be beginning. The Jets and their supporters know there’s just something about Tebow.
No matter where the biggest names land, fans always return to follow the new guys taking their places. Owners have counted on it for a long time; they haven’t been disappointed yet.
For Jason Reid’s previous columns go to washingtonpost.com/reid.