Tim Tebow led his Broncos team from the depths of the AFC West to a second round NFL playoff showdown with the New England Patriots, and was rewarded Monday with the starting quarterback job in training camp . As Cindy Boren reported:

John Elway named Tim Tebow the Denver Broncos’ starting quarterback. Entering training camp 2012.

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.”

So take a moment to give Tebow his due, put his season to rest, and wonder about his future later. Take several moments, though, to appreciate what Brady did before a Gillette Stadium crowd of 68,756, whose applause was muffled only by ski gloves. He threw five touchdown passes in the first half alone. Three of those went to superhuman tight end Rob Gronkowski, who hauled in 10 balls for 145 yards and tied the mark for receiving scores in a playoff game.

For many Tebow fans, the crushing loss to the Patriots was an anticlimactic end to the buzz that had built over the final weeks of the season. As Sally Quinn wrote:

I couldn’t watch. After the Patriots made their first touchdown two minutes into the game I found myself covering my eyes like I do in horror movies.

Tim Tebow had converted me into a huge Broncos fan; actually a huge Tim Tebow fan. It’s not the football that attracted me to Tebow but the good works he does.

There was also something really annoying about how people made fun of him for being a person of faith. I can see that for some, the kneeling or “Tebowing” on the field might seem a little much. But then you see players cross themselves all the time and nobody seems to have a problem with that. If Tebow didn’t live his faith it would be another story. But he does.

Because I couldn’t watch, I picked up a book I was reading, “The Last Testament: A Memoir by God” (with David Javerbaum.) Yes, it’s a satire. I thumbed through the book and found a chapter titled “Games On Sports.” Now, before Tebow I would never have read that chapter. But I was thinking, maybe there will be something revealing in here about this Tim Tebow phenomenon.

And here I quote “God” from his memoir, 1:6. “Sport is mythic; sport is epic: sport is a condensation of all human activity; it is often said that sport is a metaphor for life; it would be more accurate to say that life is a metaphor for sports.”

This definitely got my attention so I kept on reading, even though I was still listening to the roar of the crowds as the Patriots scored another touchdown.

“As a sports fan,” continues “God” in 1:18, “ I understand how much the games mean to both other fans and the athletes: the passions they stir, the tempests they roil, the loyalties they build, and above all the rivalry, violence, and rioting they so justifiably evoke.”

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