x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 January 2018

Tim Tebow faces new start now that Denver has become 'Peyton's Place'

The quarterback faces being traded despite fine run in the NFL play-offs as Manning set to complete negotiations with the Broncos.

Tim Tebow could be forced to seek pastures new if Peyton Manning signs for the Denver Broncos.
Tim Tebow could be forced to seek pastures new if Peyton Manning signs for the Denver Broncos.

Tim Tebow, who had a huge following last season as he led the Denver Broncos to the National Football Leagueplay-offs, was expected to be traded now that coveted free agent quarterback Peyton Manning  picked Denver as his desired team.

Manning finalised a five-year deal worth $96 million with the NFL club on Tuesday, stating he was "very excited to begin the next chapter of my playing career. I can tell this organization is committed to winning. This is a great place to be.

"In the end, I felt the Broncos were just a great fit. I'm thrilled to be here, looking forward to meeting my new teammates and hopefully leading the Broncos to more Super Bowls."

Broncos vice-president John Elway, himself a retired two-time Super Bowl champion quarterback for Denver and Hall of Fame member, was blunt in why he decided to sign Manning, who is coming off several surgeries on his neck and missed the 2011/12 NFL season.

"I believe he has got a lot of great football left in him," Elway said. "We are thrilled he has elected to play for the Denver Broncos.

"My goal is to make Peyton Manning the best quarterback who ever played the game. He has that opportunity with the ability he has left in him."

Manning will wear the same jersey number, 18, that he used with the Colts after Frank Tripucka, the 84-year-old first quarterback of the Broncos in the 1960s, approved the Broncos un-retiring his old number.

"He really wants me to wear his number. It was a very humbling conversation," Manning said. "It truly is an honor for me. I'm truly following his wishes."

And just like that, Tebowmania is gone as Denver becomes Peyton's Place.

It was a shotgun marriage from the beginning, the unlikely pairing of a Elway, the Hall of Fame passer, with a quarterback in Tebow who never seems comfortable in the pocket.

Now they are likely to divorce - ESPN reported that Denver executives say five teams have contacted them about Tebow's availability.

A college-style quarterback whose public displays of religiosity polarised public opinion and whose passing technique led critics to write him off as a pro, Tebow became the talk of the NFL with his hard-running and charismatic leadership.

But whereas Manning is a prototypical pro-style quarterback, and master of recognising opportunities to pick apart defences with his passing, Denver thrived by adapting their offence to embrace the unorthodox Tebow's ability to run with the ball.

Helped by a defence that kept games close, Tebow was in position to launch a series of late-game comebacks despite completing a dismal 46.5 per cent of his left-handed throws.

Tebow led Denver on a six-game winning streak, three of them in overtime, shortly after being named the starting quarterback last October. The phrase 'Tebow Time' was coined to capture the fact that five times last season his Broncos won games in which they trailed in the fourth quarter.

His post-touchdown, knelt-in-prayer pose - known as "Tebowing" - inspired fans around the world. Many have posted pictures of themselves "Tebowing" on sites such as Tebowing.com.

The Jacksonville Jaguars have been mentioned as a possible landing spot for Tebow, who rose to fame at the University of Florida, nearby Jacksonville in Gainesville, where he won a pair of BCS national championships and the Heisman Trophy as most outstanding college football player.

Jaguars new owner Shahid Khan, whose team has had trouble filling its stadium, has said he would have been interested in Tebow had he been in charge of the team in 2010 when Denver drafted the quarterback 25th overall.

But the Jaguars already have a strong-armed young quarterback in Blaine Gabbart and recently signed Chad Henne, the former Miami Dolphins starter.

Miami, another team that was in the Manning sweepstakes, could now be a destination for Tebow. The South Florida area hosts the largest University of Florida alumni club in the state, giving Tebow a built-in fan base.

But the Dolphins have signed David Garrard, the former Jacksonville Jaguar starter, to compete for the starter's spot with incumbent Matt Moore, who replaced Henne after the latter was injured and sparked Miami to a strong finish.

Tebow got off to a strong start after replacing Kyle Orton, but after the winning streak he and the Broncos lost their last three games.

They still managed to qualify for the play-offs.

Tebow, who was 7-4 in regular season games he started last season, led Denver (8-8) to an overtime win over the Pittsburgh Steelers in the first round of the play-offs before the team was eliminated 45-10 by the New England Patriots.