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My Plan for Tebow: Sunday TV Preacher Man

Posted By Jay Mariotti On August 31, 2013 @ 6:21 PM In Florida News,JM - Archive,JM - The Columns,main feature,NFL | No Comments

We’ve waited. And waited. And waited a little longer for America’s most endearing faith-healer, Timothy Richard Tebow, to prove he can throw a pebble-grained, 15-ounce leather ball through the air to an intended teammate — and not over the head of said teammate, or five feet wide of said teammate, or idly into the turf for an incompletion, or, worse, into enemy hands for a turnover.

We’ve waited in Denver, where he enjoyed a modicum of success and a playoff prayer. We’ve waited in New York, where he sadly was reduced to a tabloid-smothered discard in an organizational circus. We’ve waited in New England, where it was thought an accomplished coach with a creative bent and an innovative offensive coordinator — who just happened to enable Tebow with the Broncos — might develop his passing mechanics to complement his bullish running ability.

Conclusion: It’s not happening.

Reality: Tim Tebow is not an NFL quarterback.

He was cut by the Patriots, his third team in 18 months, and it’s safe to say his cute, little touchdown flip in the waning seconds of the team’s last preseason game will be his final NFL pass. He has not sufficiently developed a quick release and tempo-friendly technique in pro football’s fast-paced, high-efficiency quarterbacking era. Teams love his attitude. Teams love his high character and work ethic. But in the end, for an NFL team to keep and nurture a backup quarterback, the bosses must like how he thinks on his feet, how he releases the ball and how often the process succeeds. Tebow is an athlete, not a quarterback, and if another NFL team signs him at some point — far from a certainty at 26 — it will be in a multi-purpose role.

Typically, Tebow isn’t taking no for an answer. “I will remain in relentless pursuit of continuing my lifelong dream of being an NFL quarterback,” he wrote on his Twitter feed hours after his release, also thanking the Patriots’ braintrust — owner Bob Kraft, coach Bill Belichick and coordinator Josh McDaniels — for the opportunity.

We love you, kid. Much as I hate to quash a fantasy, it’s time to move on to your next worldly destination.

Televangelism.

This is not a joke.

Yes, Sunday morning preaching is my master plan for Tebow. First, allow me to exhaust feelings about a no-brainer landing spot that, somehow, has become a brainless impossibility. If I owned the Jacksonville Jaguars, and I had problems selling tickets in an upper deck covered by a tarp, I’d make damned sure Tebow was on my roster as a non-QB simply to create buzz and an ongoing story line. Uh, didn’t he grow up in the area? Wasn’t he a collegiate legend down the road in Gainesville? I’d use him as a offensive device, maybe in tandem with rookie Denard Robinson (listed on the team’s roster as an “offensive weapon”) in the Wildcat formation and at least give Jaguars fans something to chat about Monday mornings other than slow developer Blaine Gabbert and journeyman plug-in Chad Henne. There also is the matter of marketing the franchise in London, where the Jags will play one home game per season over the next four years in the league’s continuing globalization effort. If this potentially is a team that could move full-time to London, the European appetite has to be stimulated with more than Maurice Jones-Drew. Tebow is known there. Tebow is known everywhere.

But from the moment general manager David Caldwell arrived in January, he has nixed the idea. “I can’t imagine a scenario in which he’ll be a Jacksonville Jaguar — even if he’s released,” said Caldwell, repeating those comments often. If you’re waiting for owner Shad Khan to overrule him, forget it; even if he wants Tebow, as he has hinted, he refuses to interfere with the football operation.

In what for the longest time seemed a blessed, almost perfect life, being dropped by a third team represents a gigantic disappointment. Tebow’s biggest career dream — playing quarterback in the NFL — is dead. Rather than relinquish that dream, he probably would consider the Arena League, where he’d sell out the building in Orlando and could moonlight as a mascot at Disney World. He is not one to be crushed, preferring to let his intense religious beliefs guide him.

“I’m blessed, because of my faith, that I don’t have to worry about the future because I know who holds my future,” Tebow said the other day. “It’s something I try to live by. It really gives you a lot of peace in whatever circumstance I’m in.

“I learned very early on in my career at Florida to worry about what I can control, and the things that I can’t control, I’m not going to spend time worrying about. But I can control my attitude, my focus every single day, and those are the things I’m going to worry about.”

What he needs to think about now is his life’s work. And though he leaves an indelible college legacy as a leader, national champion, Heisman Trophy winner, inspirational speech deliverer and Southern religious icon at Florida, the life’s work of Tim Tebow will not be remembered as football first. He has used sports to spread the message about his faith and helping others, the mission he has undertaken since he was a teen spending spring break performing circumcisions in the Phillippines. Just because Tebow won’t play in the NFL doesn’t mean he can’t try to save the world.

So I urge him to start doing so … now. I am completely serious in suggesting he launch an evangelism career to top all others, on a planet that is spiraling out of whack and needs a preacher man we can trust. Think Sunday mornings. Think the Tebow TV Network. Think a massive cathedral somewhere in Florida, tinted in Gators colors if he prefers, orange and blue. Think traveling crusades in major stadiums around the world. Think Billy Graham. Do not think Jimmy Swaggart or Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker.

It would be foolish to underestimate the power of Tebow as a religious crusader. For six years, he has used his high-profile platform to develop a wide following of devotees. Why do you think TV ratings were so high when he played meaningful games in Denver? Why such media commotion in New York? Why the bombardment of ESPN coverage — my gosh, how will Skip Bayless survive without Tebow? — for two years? After wearing the passage “John 3:16” on his eyeblack during Florida’s national championship victory in 2009, Tebow was having lunch the next day when coach Urban Meyer told him, “Timmy, did you realize that during that game, 94 million people Googled `John 3:16′?” Tebowites have been hoping he’s Jesus Christ in shoulder pads, and while that part didn’t work out, the Jesus Christ part still lives. So why not take advantage of his wide swath?

Last we saw Tebow in such a church-like setting, in June, he was speaking to a Christian men’s conference in South Carolina. “Eye of the Tiger” played as he took the stage to reverential applause. He spoke of how a late-game streaker somehow had helped him pull off a Broncos victory. Inspiring. Entertaining. Relatable to the masses.

“We were down with maybe three minutes to go, and they had pinned us back at our own five-yard line and we had to go 95 yards to win the game,” he told the crowd, per Bleacher Report. “So we spread it out and they kind of let me do my thing. I’m running around the field and we go on this long drive. I take a lot of pride in being in the best possible shape I can be in, but I was playing so hard on every single play and I was pretty exhausted. We were going no huddle, so by the time we got to the other side of the field, I was exhausted and I couldn’t catch my breath.

“Instead of coming back to the line and telling the offensive line the call, I was just saying, `Same play! Same play’ because I couldn’t get it out. And so we get down to their, I think, 29-yard line and its third and four, the biggest play of the game. … It’s a huge play. I’m getting ready to call for the ball and I could barely breathe and catch my breath, and all of a sudden I see one of the fans jump out of the stands and start streaking across the field. Most of the time, you turn to one of your buddies and start laughing and maybe joke about it, but, no, I just said `Thank you Lord!’ … During the TV timeout I go to the sidelines and catch my breath, and we go back on the field for the third-and-four play; they blitz everybody and I get around the edge and run for the game-winning touchdown and it was pretty fun. I guess some people might call it divine intervention.”

Smirk, if you must. But a lot of people eat that stuff up. Tebow would tell more than football stories on Sunday mornings, I assume, but the point is, he has accomplished too much in his mission to not move forward in powerful, long-lasting ways.

Saturday in College Station, Texas, for instance, a kid who can’t stay out of trouble tried to find solitude on a football field. Eligible only for the second half because of a highly bogus NCAA suspension, Johnny Manziel threw three touchdown passes for Texas A&M in a 52-31 victory over Rice, but he also pulled more of the immature stunts that have his father and so many others worried about him. He rubbed his thumb and fingers together in the universal symbol for cash, at the heart of since-dismissed allegations that he accepted money for autographs. While jawing with a Rice player, he pretended he was signing an autograph. Then, when he pointed at the scoreboard after throwing a fourth-quarter TD pass, Manziel was mercifully yanked by A&M coach Kevin Sumlin.

It should be strongly noted that when he started his day, Johnny Football/Johnny Drama got down on one knee, bowed his head … and Tebowed for several seconds. Tim Tebow, faith healer, could help the kid with his bratty-ego issues. He could help a lot of us, actually.


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