Tim Tebow on new stage with Eagles, but still a sideshow?

 
  

 Tim Tebow warms up during organized team activities at the Eagles’ practice facility Thursday. (Matt Slocum/Associated Press)

PHILADELPHIA – Here he walked again, the man at the center of so many big ideas and raised-voice debates, crossing a practice field and wearing a red jersey.

“Tebow time!” a Philadelphia Eagles player yelled as a group of roughly 105 reporters mostly stopped whatever they were doing and hurried toward the quarterback wearing No. 11.

Yes, Tim Tebow is an NFL player again, this time for the Philadelphia Eagles, whose unusual offseason has simultaneously provided the former first-round draft pick a second chance and renewed America’s biggest sport’s biggest sideshow. Tebow, the 27-year-old who missed the past two seasons as football seemed to move on, was back.

“I think about it as: What a blessing, a great opportunity,” he said. “Be the best teammate and player, try to make everybody around us better.”

A few minutes earlier, as the Eagles were finishing an offseason practice, Tebow took a few snaps at quarterback. He threw one deep pass far over tight end Trey Burton’s head; the next two play calls were rushes. A while later, Tebow, who would claim his mechanics had improved, allowed a pass to be tipped at the line of scrimmage and intercepted, and in those moments it was fair to wonder what the Eagles and Coach Chip Kelly saw in him.

Tebow has always been something of a curiosity, dating from his legendary days at the University of Florida. Teary post-game news conferences were discussed and replayed, his Christian faith argued amid the rise of the sports television debate movement, a Heisman Trophy winner asked all manner of question about whether his game might translate to the NFL or, once, if he was still a virgin. Through it all, he smiled and remained polite and diverted praise to God. He became a rock star.

The Denver Broncos made him a first-round draft pick, and in his second season, he threw six interceptions and was sacked 33 times – leading Denver to the AFC West title in the process and upsetting Pittsburgh in the first round of the playoffs. Then the Broncos traded him to the New York Jets, and great crowds of reporters trailed him, analyzed him, pushed him as either a nice guy and inaccurate quarterback trying his best or a publicity stunt pushed forth by a franchise in the mood for attention. He became a circus act.

Then, after a brief experiment with New England came and went during the 2013 preseason, Tebow’s career seemed to have run its course. The debate shows remained, moving on to the next scintillating topic, such as fellow Heisman winner Johnny Manziel. But nothing moved the needle like Tebow, who never stopped believing he was an NFL quarterback.

He worked with Tom House, the former baseball pitcher, on his passing technique: balance, timing, posture, release point. Tebow took a job as a college football analyst with ESPN, showing a knack for breaking down the game, became leaner and stronger – slightly less than 250 pounds, he said Thursday.

“There are a lot of things that are out of our control,” he said when asked why he was out of football for two seasons. “And for me it was about taking that time to improve.”

While he prepared, Kelly was busy moving pieces around during a peculiar offseason. The former Oregon coach, who will in a few months begin his third NFL season, traded quarterback Nick Foles (who won 14 of his 18 starts during Kelly’s first two seasons) to St. Louis for Sam Bradford (who because of knee injuries hasn’t played since October 2013). Philadelphia acquired running back DeMarco Murray but traded away LeSean McCoy, the Eagles’ career leading rusher.

Then last month, Tebow received the call. Kelly, whose reputation as an unpredictable thinker has defined the first two-plus seasons of his NFL career, was interested. Indeed it was “Tebow time” once again.

“I think he’s improved. He spent a lot of time the last two years in terms of working on his game,” Kelly told the herd of reporters Thursday, adding that he wanted to audition four quarterbacks as the season neared. He also said that Tebow, considered a possible short-yardage wrinkle or even an answer for a potential NFL rule change to entice teams to attempt two-point conversions, was a quarterback – plain and simple.

Tebow, who ran variations of Kelly’s offense at Florida and with the Patriots, flashed that familiar smile when he was asked about that.

“I hope everybody knows I’ll do whatever I can to help the team, but I enjoy playing quarterback,” he said, surrounded by several dozen microphones and cameras, going on to say that Kelly didn’t reveal much about the team’s plans during private discussions. “I believe that’s why I’m here as well.”

 
Kent Babb is a sports features writer for The Washington Post.
 
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9 Responses to “Tim Tebow on new stage with Eagles, but still a sideshow?”

  1. Sage says:

    I took a couple semesters of journalism at a JC, many years ago. What a dreary job to write thin “stories” on demand of one’s editor. This journalist has recorded 3 to 5 rudimentary facts that he observed while spending hours watching the Eagles practice, and to that he added regurgitated history that everyone knows. How satisfying can that be? Computers can literally do the job that journalists do now, and apparently monkeys too.

  2. Cartman says:

    I liked [roll eyes] how the author explained Tebow’s interceptions and sacks led the Broncos to victory.

    • David Oliver says:

      Still amazing – Reality means nothing – many of these “Reporters”
      come out of these interview sessions reporting exactly what their
      skewed misconceptions and biases were – going into these sessions,
      they could have reported exactly the same result while staying
      at home and not even attending … Hater’s syndrome at its best
      (worst?)

    • Kevin says:

      lol…I noticed that. Interceptions and Sacks wins championships! lol

  3. Pamelot says:

    Seriously.

  4. ck says:

    Think this guy should be named BLABBO!

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