Tim Tebow is a great football player and, to this point, a mediocre quarterback. He might or might not be the long-term solution for the Denver Broncos.
He followed his heroic conquest of the Steelers with his horrific failure against the Patriots. These contrasting events fueled epic debates among NFL insiders, pundits and fans. Just what is Tim Tebow?
We know this much for sure: Tebow already reached pro football’s Pantheon of Unorthodox Quarterbacks.
Strengths: Charismatic team leader. Adept scrambler capable of making big plays on the move. Bulldozing runner who brought the option running scheme to the NFL.
Limitations: Odd throwing motion with a slow release, poor touch and inconsistent accuracy.
Rejection: New Broncos coach John Fox buried him in backup role at the start of his regime. Team “sources” leaked Tebow's poor internal training camp reviews to media types. Team president John Elway initially dismissed his value before grudgingly acknowledging him as the Quarterback of the Future in Denver.
Trademark: His prayerful pose, known generically as “Tebowing.”
Bottom line: He has been great, bad and ugly – often in the same game. His results varied tremendously from week to week. But he did rally an ordinary Denver team through one round of the playoffs.
Strengths: Tremendous leadership ability, like Tebow. Physically tough, like Tebow. Liked to scramble and run over defenders, like Tebow.
Limitations: Not a great pocket passer, like Tebow.
Rejection: Spent much of his career in the Canadian Football League with Calgary and British Columbia. Finally got his NFL opportunity when Vikings GM Jim Finks – Kapp’s old boss with the B.C. Lions – engineered a trade that crossed league boundaries.
Trademark: The jump pass, which Tebow totally ripped off while at Florida.
Bottom line: Earned CFL Hall of Fame honors north of the border and led the Vikings to Super Bowl IV. But his NFL career ended badly after a spectacularly unsuccessful stint with the Patriots.
Strengths: Ridiculous physical tools. Imagine Barry Sanders with, as actor Jason Alexander would say, “a rocket for an arm.”
Limitations: Passing touch, consistency, citizenship.
Rejection: The Chargers opted not to draft him with the first overall selection in 2001, dealing that pick to Atlanta instead. After a terrific run with the Falcons – and federal prison time for his dog-fighting conviction – he relocated to Philadelphia as a back-up quarterback.
Trademark: Invincibility with video games.
Bottom line: His successful comeback from doing hard prison time restored his standing as one of the most electrifying performers of his generation. But his inability to win the really big games still, ahem, dogs him.
Strengths: Elusive scramble capable of making big plays on the move. Flair for making game-breaking plays, like Tebow.
Limitations: Short, mobile quarterback during an era that favored tall pocket quarterbacks. Not nearly as tall as his listed 5-foot-10 height.
Rejection: Started his pro career in the USFL after winning the Heisman Trophy for Boston College. After back-up stints in New England and Chicago, he enjoyed a long run in the CFL before finally breaking through for Buffalo in the NFL.
Trademark: “Hail Mary” pass.
Bottom line: He earned the Associated Press named him its NFL Comeback Player of the Year award on 1998, but enjoyed only intermittent success at the highest level.
Strengths: Mobility allowed him to elude the rush and extend plays. Adept at making big plays on the move.
Limitations: Eagerness to run out of the pocket disturbed his original coach, Norm Van Brocklin.
Rejection: The Vikings traded him to the Giants after his unhappy time under Van Brocklin.
Trademark: Post-playing career as a self-promoting entrepreneur.
Bottom line: Tarkenton later returned to Minnesota and led the Vikings to three Super Bowls – although they lost them all. Fran’s inability to “win it all” as a Vikings tainted a career that saw him pass and run for more than 50,000 yards.
Strengths: Mobility, huge left arm.
Limitations: Scrambling quarterback during an era favoring pocket quarterbacks.
Rejection: Started his career in the United States Football League with a monstrous contract. Moved to the NFL with the woeful Buccaneers and lost 16 of his 19 starts. Moved the 49ers as a back-up to Joe Montana and regrouped.
Trademark: Concussions – at least seven of them in his career.
Bottom line: He finally graduated into the starting role in San Francisco, forcing Montana out of town. He enjoyed great success in his own right, winning a MVP title and Super Bowl by demonstrating uncommon passing accuracy - unlike Tebow.
Strengths: Capable of throwing the ball a long way, like Tebow. Could run over would-be tacklers when he took off up the field, like Tebow.
Limitations: Passing inaccuracy, like Tebow. Many of his passes wobbled through the air duck-like.
Rejection: This second-round draft pick from Kansas was the starting quarterback in just two of his seven NFL season.
Trademark: Freakish size for his period. Also, lefty QBs were extremely rare to that point of NFL history.
Bottom line: He rushed for 1,493 yards and 13 touchdowns for the Bears in 1972-73. But he completed just 43 percent of his passes during a checkered NFL career and never passed for 1,246 yards in a season.
Strengths: Size and strength combined with elusive running ability. Once rushed for 942 yards in a season.
Limitations: Severe knee injury later diminished his mobility.
Rejection: Broke in as a back-up and situation substitution for the Eagles. Had a nice run as starter there, then lost his starting gig to Rodney Peete. Retired prematurely to work as a TV analyst. Enjoyed initial success in Minnesota, then lost his job to Jeff George. Finished out his career as a fill-in in Dallas and Baltimore.
Trademark: Athletic versatility -- he really punt the football, too.
Bottom line: He peaked as a QB in Minnesota, where he threw 34 touchdown passes while leading the Vikings to a 15–1 regular season record in 1998.
Strengths: Mobility allowed him to elude the rush . . . until Lawrence Taylor caught up to him late in his career. Was able to extend plays, like Tebow, and complete passes on the move.
Limitations: Short, mobile quarterback during an era that favored tall pocket quarterbacks.
Rejection: The Dolphins drafted him in the fourth round but didn’t sign him. He started his pro career in the CFL. He came to the NFL as a back-up quarterback and punt returner for the Redskins. He finally displaced veteran Billy Kilmer, who was a bit of an unconventional quarterback himself.
Trademark: Having L.T, snap his leg wishbone-like on "Monday Night Football."
Bottom line: Once he settled in as the Redskins starter, he led Washington to two Super Bowl appearances and one World Championship.
Strengths: Fiery leader, like Tebow. Lefty, like Tebow. Could scramble and make plays on the move, like Tebow.
Limitations: Passing accuracy wasn’t great. Threw more interceptions (141) than TD passes (11) in his career.
Rejection: Finished out his career as a journeyman back-up for the Seahawks, Packers, CFL Winnipeg Blue Bombers and Buccaneers after his early success in Seattle.
Trademark: Completion to Steve Largent.
Bottom line: He followed decent playing career with a similarly decent coaching career.