That’s as far as Elway would go. One network carrying a championship game Sunday, however, wants him immediately for his ratings clout. CBS, which used Detroit Lions stomper Ndamukong Suh in broadcasts Sunday, has invited Tebow to participate. The network, USA Today reports, expects to hear by midweek whether it’s a go.
As for Tebow’s playing gig, Elway made his evaluation as the team’s vice president of football operations and as a Hall of Fame quarterback. Tebow, the fan favorite and cultural touchstone who led the team to the playoffs, deserves that much, he stressed Monday.
“Tim's earned the right to be our quarterback going into training camp next year,” Elway said. “He made some good strides this year. He obviously played very well against Pittsburgh [in the wild-card game] and played very well in a lot of football games, so he made great strides.”
Tebow, however, is going to have to fight for the job. “We have to be in the market to find more quarterbacks, either through free agency or the draft,” Elway said. “We'll look at both those options.”
Tebow will have a couple of advantages. He’ll have an offseason of study with Professor Elway and he remains a fan favorite, despite his poor performance in the divisional playoff game against the New England Patriots on Saturday. Elway acknowledged that the decision was tricky.
In the Broncos’ 45-10 loss to the Patriots was a stark reminder of the work still to do in Denver after the exhilarating win over the Pittsburgh Steelers the week before. As Barry Svyluga explained:
There may have been a time – in the middle of the week, in the hours before kickoff, even early in the second quarter, though that’s a stretch – when it seemed feasible that Tim Tebow and his Denver Broncos could have beaten Tom Brady and his New England Patriots. Talk of karma and religion and all sorts of elements that have little to do with football filled the icy air, and with a week between playoff games, there are hours to kill and storylines to hype.
Then this AFC divisional playoff game started. Less than two minutes in, the Patriots were up by a touchdown. Less than six minutes later, they were up by two. Over the final two-and-a-half minutes of a freakishly good first half, they scored two more to go up by 28 points.
All that pregame dissection of Tebow’s throwing motion and Tebow’s beliefs and Tebow’s leadership and Tebow’s deficiencies seemed downright silly, because the vastly superior player, Brady, and the clearly superior team, New England, won in a never-in-doubt romp, 45-10, in which Brady tied an NFL playoff record with six touchdown passes.
“I think, as a team, we were looking for this all year,” defensive tackle Vince Wilfork said. “What a great time to put it all together.”