Could Tim Tebow cut it in Canada or the Arena league? (+video)
Tim Tebow was cut by the New England Patriots and passed over by every other team this weekend. But the Canadian and Arena Football Leagues present intriguing possibilities.
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Alouettes general manager Jim Popp told the Toronto Sun Saturday that he's "never had a conversation with [Tebow] or his agent," but in the past has expressed a qualified interest in Tebow. "We're very curious to see what he's capable of doing," he told USA Today in April.Skip to next paragraph
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Unique elements of the Canadian game could play to Tebow's advantage, he said. The field is 35 yards wider than in the NFL field, creating more space for Tebow to run his favored read-option plays. Moreover, the Alouettes already use a substitute quarterback instead of Calvillo, who is 41, for short-yardage running plays, and Tebow could slot into that role seamlessly.
Timing could work in Tebow's favor, as well. Calvillo is currently recovering from a concussion that some media reports suggest could be career-threatening. With the team's second-string quarterback also injured, Tebow would surely get a good look.
Despite the widespread American view of the CFL as a second-rate league, however, it is no joke. Its championship, the Grey Cup, is 100 years old (the Super Bowl is 47), and Tebow will get no free rides. Popp made this clear in April by saying that Tebow, if he were to come to the Alouettes, would be coming to back up Calvillo.
"The misconception about the CFL is it's much easier for a quarterback. That's not necessarily true. If you can't make all the throws, you can't win consistently in the CFL, either," he said.
With Calvillo injured, the situation has changed, but Popp's underlying point hasn't. The Canadian game is different, with only three downs, one-point drop kicks, and multiple offensive players allowed to be in motion before the snap.
"It's a confusing game," he added. "There are nuances to it. It's a big learning curve, and it takes a while to adjust."
The same would be true in the Arena leagues. Then again, adjustments are precisely what Tebow needs. Kurt Warner, the Super Bowl-winning quarterback who famously made the jump from the AFL's Iowa Barnstormers to the St. Louis Rams, credits Arena football with polishing the rough parts of his game.
"You hear people talk about what made me the player I was, they usually look at a couple of different things," Warner told ArenaFootball.com. "One is the quick release. The other is being able to diagnose defenses and accurately placing the football where I needed to put it.… I really think the AFL helped me develop those skills. You have less time in the pocket, the pocket is much smaller, it is a faster game and it is a shorter field. The windows are so tight you have to be accurate, you have to be able to anticipate, and you have to be able to fit it into tight windows."
The Arena league is also more of a novelty than the CFL, meaning that Tebow might be given a longer time to develop. The league marketing department might just set up camp in his breakfast nook if he were to join.
The Orlando Predators, for one, were willing to welcome the only athlete ever to be named a "Great Floridian."
"We'd love to have him," Predators owner Brett Bouchy told the Orlando Sentinel in March. "I think he would definitely improve as a quarterback in our league.... Whenever Tim is willing, we have a contract waiting for him to sign."
Ron Jaworski, the former Philadelphia Eagles quarterback who is now a part owner of the Philadelphia Soul Arena team, also extended a hand to Tebow earlier this year. "If he decides he wants to play Arena football, we'll make a spot for him," Jaworski told philly.com in May.
He and Soul coach Clint Dolezel even went so far as to send Tebow a list of plays they had designed for him, though they got no response.
Now, however, that phone might ring.
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