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It seems fitting that today is both the birth day of the new SEC Network and the birthday of Tim Tebow, the biggest star on the SEC Network.
It was just more than five summers ago that I launched TimTeblog.com, offering obsessive coverage of the Tim Tebow phenomenon.
The site was fascinating to produce -- there was obviously plenty of material around Tebow during his insane senior season at Florida, his insane NFL Draft process, his insane rookie year with the Broncos, the truly insane apex 2nd year in Denver, the modestly insane debacle in New York and the not-really-insane denouement in New England last August.
I can't help but think that the moment the lights officially go on for the SEC Network, with Tebow on-air live from Gainesville, the NFL chapter of Tebow's career will really be over.
I remain biased and mystified -- that no team will give him a shot, that QBs like Brady Quinn and Rex Grossman can land on rosters, that this really might be it.
I know he continues to train -- I actually believe him when he says that his skills have never been better. I am left with one lingering question:
Why doesn't he switch positions?
Yes, I understand that the day he lines up at anything but QB is the day that his dream of being an NFL QB is over, but -- from the looks of things -- his dream of being an NFL quarterback *IS ALREADY* over.
The implication: Wait, he would really rather remain a QB and never play in the NFL again than switch to anything-but-QB (fullback? tight end? the invented-just-now "T-back?") and get a shot to contribute on an NFL roster in some other way?
It's not like he wasn't willing to do whatever it took to help his teams previously: His rookie year with the Broncos, before he took over as starting QB, he lined up as a receiver. On the Jets, he eagerly accepted a role on special teams. Anything to help the team.
The irony is that if he was on a roster as a fullback, coaches might actually be willing to deploy him more innovatively (the way they should have when he was playing QB), in short-yardage situations or otherwise:
Four or five plays per game, what if you weren't sure if Tebow the T-back was going to plow you with a block, trample you with the ball tucked away, pitch to a running back or flip a toss over your head to a wide-open receiver?
If not a starting QB, Tebow's advantage to an NFL team has always been at the margins -- not marginalized: Helping secure the drive-sustaining or clock-killing first down, caroming in for the goal-line score, delivering the defense-distracting feint. He is a specialist at producing the handful of plays that become the difference between W and L.
The next phase of Tim Tebow's fascinating career begins today. He will be wildly successful and popular, because he has always been wildly successful and popular.
Look: I subscribe to the First Rule of Tim Tebow ("Just when you think it can't get any crazier, it does") and hold out that at least one more NFL opportunity will present itself (say, when Urban Meyer eventually takes over for Bill Belichick in New England).
Even with that faith, I can't help lamenting whether the previous phase -- Tebow's NFL career -- ends today, too.