The Miracle in Miami: Down 15-0 with under three minutes left, Tim Tebow threw two TD passes, then ran in a 2-point conversion and the Broncos won 18-15 in overtime. Even though Tebow didn’t recover the onside kick late in regulation or cause the fumble in overtime or kick the game-winning field goal, the way his legend is going, in five years we’ll all remember Tebow actually doing those things. So what if Tebow was 13-for-27 (48 percent) for 161 yards? He was clutch and led his team to victory, which is all that matters. The 6.0 YPA? Big deal. Sacked seven times? Well, he needs an offensive line.
Tim Tebow is the new Vince Young. Both were wildly popular college athletes who found incredible success on the field because they were terrific athletes. Young at Texas, Tebow at Florida. Young’s signature highlight was beating USC in the Rose Bowl; Tebow won a Heisman, was part of two title-winning teams and was amazing in an SEC Championship victory over Alabama. They’re two of the best “winning” QBs the college game has seen over the last two decades.
Young found some success with the Titans in the NFL at the age of 23: His stats were unimpressive (12 TDs, 13 INTs, 51% completions) but he had a flair for the dramatic: four 4th quarterback comebacks, five game-winning drives. Tennessee went 8-5 and Young was the rookie of the year. Young started the next year and his completions went up (61 percent) but he threw 17 picks against just nine TDs. He was athletic and able to make things happen when plays/protection broke down, but traditional he was not.
Defenses started to figure him out. Young was awful in a road playoff game against San Diego. The next season, Young was hurt early – which was followed by the bizarre gun/cops incident – Kerry Collins replaced him, and Tennessee went 13-3. Jeff Fisher named Collins the starter for the 2009 season, but the Titans opened 0-6, and Young took over. He went 8-2. It appeared as if Young was “back.” He made the Pro Bowl! In 2010, Young was mediocre again (Tennessee was 5-5) before injuring his thumb. Then owner Bud Adams said he didn’t want to pay Young and that was that.
Tebow’s career could mirror Young’s – perhaps without the gaudy 30-17 record. Tebow doesn’t have the tough defense Young did, but perhaps the Broncos can get something in exchange for Orton and begin getting Von Miller some help. We know they’ll have a Top 10 draft choice the next two years. But the division’s only going to get stronger. The Tebow magic will probably have immense highs and embarrassing lows over the next three years, and when his rookie deal is up, Denver will probably cut the cord when his popularity wanes and the playoff trips never come. But I’ll be rooting for him.
When his first contract is up, if nobody else is willing to make him a starter … perhaps Tebow gets out of football and into the political game. Then he can make a run at office in Florida around 2020, and perhaps for President by 2028.