Everyone has an opinion about Tim Tebow. For example, Buffalo Bills defenders likely find him to be an exceedingly generous sharer of the football. Some believe he is football Jesus and a decreasing portion of the population view him as a personal affront to professional quarterbacking. Broncos Executive VP John Elway seems to be as conflicted as the rest of us. His public remarks about the Chosen One range from damning to begrudgingly acknowledging to exceedingly supportive. Here's a somewhat thorough timeline of his thoughts:
January 5, 2011: "So, I don't believe that anyone is going to come over and say, 'I don't want Tim Tebow.'"
In Elway's introductory press conference as a team executive he took the 'If I say a whole bunch of stuff no one will remember one line,' strategy when asked about Tebow. The above quote is about the potential incoming coach and is part of a long, rambling collection or run-on sentences and sentence fragments. Enjoy the 'He's a great guy, but probably a terrible quarterback' undertones and the irony that the Broncos ended up hiring John Fox, who didn't really want any part of Tebow for the first half of the season.
"We had personnel meetings this morning with everybody -- with the whole staff -- and got through that and obviously we talked a lot about Tim. I have asked everybody if they had a chance to do the deal over that the Broncos did last year to get Tim (whether they would do it again) and they all said, 'Yes.' I think that he has been everything that everybody expected him to be as far as a person, a man, a leader, and what everybody heard about him -- his intangibles ... I don't think a coach is going to (not want to coach Tebow), to be dead honest with you. Everyone is aware of what Tim Tebow is about and so I think that there is still a question -- obviously you have guys way over here that say there is no way, you have guys over here that think (otherwise) -- there are really not a lot of guys in the middle, but I think that anybody that comes in here and is going to be around Tim Tebow is going to understand that this guy is something special as a man and a person, willing to work with him to give him that opportunity to be the player that he wants. So, I don't believe that anyone is going to come over and say, 'I don't want Tim Tebow.' If they do, then maybe they are not the right guy for the job."
January 8, 2011: "I don't think Tim Tebow is a good NFL quarterback at this time."
Three days after wishing and washing on Tebow, Elway cut to the point when talking to Sports Illustrated's Peter King. The comment made the rounds on the Internets and presumably after hundreds of Tebow supporters tweeted Elway Bible verses they claim make reference to Tebow starting at QB, Elway took to his Twitter account to backtrack.
"To clarify my thoughts on Tim Tebow," Elway said. "I think he's a very good football player, and if anyone can turn themselves into a great QB, Tim can. Myself and our entire organization think very highly of him. We are pleased with his first year as a Bronco. Any speculation that the Denver Broncos are considering moving Tim is completely false."
August 9, 2011: "...you have to win games from the pocket in this league."
After the small shit-storm Elway started by pointing out Tebow doesn't throw a football well, he took the winter off from saying interesting things. Something about a lockout. As the season approached and Kyle Orton appeared to be clearly superior to Tebow in training camp, Elway talked to ESPN's Rick Reilly for a column that's hilarious to read in retrospect.
In the column, entitled 'Tim Tebow not ready for prime time,' Elway talks to Reilly about harnessing Tebow's improvising and teaching him how to play in the pocket. It's another ironic quote because after three starts Tebow was given more freedom to work the run-pass option and, uh, improvise.
"One of the unique things about Tim is that he has that unique ability to make something happen when the play breaks down. That gives him a great advantage there ... but you have to win games from the pocket in this league. You can't rely on your improvising. That's one thing I learned. I was always going to make those plays outside the pocket, but that can't be your bread and butter."
After Tebow replaced Orton in a Week 5 loss to the San Diego Chargers and led an almost comeback, Tebow received the starting job and a 'Go get 'em, Tiger!' from his boss. Elway went on the NFL Network's NFL Total Access and talked about his new starter.
Elway surely had no idea the spark Tebow, and his sidekick, JC, would provide for the team. He also seemed to have no idea just how inaccurate a passer Tebow is. Elway said he expected Tebow's accuracy to improve. In his ten starts, Tebow has completed more than 50 percent of his passes twice. He also had a 2 for 8 day.
"I think one of the great things is Timmy's got that work ethic to get better, and I think that we've seen tremendous improvement this year compared to last year in his ability to throw the football and his accuracy. So we expect that just to continue to get better and better. And obviously when we have an offseason this next year, I'll get a chance to spend some more time with him."
November 22, 2011: "No."
As in, "John, do you have a better feeling now about whether your quarterback of the future is on the roster now?"
Elway went on his weekly radio show on 102.3 The Ticket the Monday after Tebow led a 95-yard game-winning drive against the New York Jets and told everyone that Tebow's 4-1 record as a starter had done nothing to convince Elway that Timmy is the long-term solution at quarterback.
At this point Tebow had led three fourth quarter comebacks and clearly shown himself as a miracle worker by winning an NFL game while completing only two passes. But Elway also apparently noticed that Tebow was 3 for 13 on third down conversions in the game against New York or that to that point he had completed 44 percent of his throws or that he had as many rushing attempts as passing attempts or that many of his throws looked like they were haphazardly shot out of a poorly designed cannon. Full quote:
November 29, 2011: "I was surprised in the fact that people took it to be a negative answer and it really wasn't a negative answer."
A week after telling everyone Tebow wasn't ready to fill his shoes, Elway went on the same weekly radio show and was all like, 'What's the big deal?'
Elway said he was surprised that a group of irrational fans (Tebowites), who stand out as particularly irrational in a nation of irrational football fans, would take his previous answer about Tebow as a negative. Because, you know, telling someone who believes he has moved closer to his dream job he's actually no closer to his dream job is positive. Elway backtracking:
"I was surprised in the fact that people took it to be a negative answer and it really wasn't a negative answer. That's where I was taken aback. It wasn't meant to be a strike at Timmy at all.
"It was just a reality check of where we were at the time, and it wasn't a negative because I tried to follow it up with all the positive things we were doing and tried to point out some things we needed to get better at."
After another soul-crushingly awful three-and-a-half quarters of football, Tebow -- and 110 yards worth of Matt Prater field goals -- led another comeback win over the Chicago Bears. Then Elway played a game of 'just the tip' with Tebowmania.
Elway publicly acknowledged that maybe there was something more to this Tebow guy than terrible throwing, good running and a lot of praying. As we would find out, good 'ol JC had a lot to do with it, after all. Full quote:
"Everyone believes that something good's going to happen. And, obviously, Tim's been the guy that's led that thinking. He's just such a strong believer. He's really got everyone else believing if you stay strong, stay positive, something good's going to happen.
"When guys are thinking that way -- and it's been led by Timmy with that positive attitude -- all boats have been rising with that."
December 21, 2011: "Tim Tebow's not going anywhere."
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Either Elway is a converted Tebowian (not sure if that one's in the Tebow glossary) or he wanted to spread the holiday cheer. Elway came out in an interview with the Associated Press with his strongest public endorsement of Tebow just in time for Timmy's -- er, sorry, JC's -- birthday.
"Tim Tebow's not going anywhere. I mean, he's going to be a Bronco and we're going to do everything we can and hopefully he's that guy."