Keep Tim Tebow? Why this Broncos fan doesn't want Peyton Manning.

Tim Tebow is surely gone now that Peyton Manning is a member of the Denver Broncos. But not all Bronco Nation is sold on trading Tim Tebow.  

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    Indianapolis Colts quarterback Peyton Manning (18) greets Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow (15) at an NFL game in Denver two seasons ago.
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As a Denver Broncos fan, the news that Peyton Manning has signed for my team and that, in all likelihood, that signing will come at the expense of Tim Tebow, reminded me a little of ridiculous late-night debates I had with my friends in college. 

They went something like this: Would you rather have one brief, amazing moment or years of something nice, but not nearly as ecstatic? Say, would you rather be able to travel through time – only once – or get a million dollars? 

Everyone always chose the one amazing moment. 

Apparently, so did the Broncos. 

Manning is a first-ballot hall of famer, perhaps the greatest quarterback of all time. He is the Zeus of quarterbacks, essentially assuring the Broncos an annual playoff spot in the pop-warner AFC West, and giving them a legitimate chance at the Super Bowl's Lombardi trophy – for perhaps 3 or 4 years. (Manning, in his mid-30s and coming off a year lost to injury, is in the fourth quarter of his career.)

But the Broncos, coming off their first playoff berth since 2005, already had a young, talented – but raw – quarterback in Tebow, who also happens to be bigger than the Beatles, better looking than Elvis, and as saintly as Mother Teresa.

Should they have stuck with him, going to war with a cinder block in cleats who has seemingly unlimited potential, but with mile-high question marks about his fundamentals – for the next decade and a half?

That depends on those question marks – and whether you think Tebow can answer them.

Can he fix his schoolyard mechanics? Maybe.

Can his unorthodox style and the Broncos Angelina Jolie-thin playbook – run, run, and run again – be improved as Tebow's skill-set grows? Sure.

Was 2011's spot in the playoffs after a 1-5 start – courtesy a weak division and a tangle of tie-breakers that went the Broncos way – a one-time miracle? Quite possibly.

I would imagine this decision would be easy for some fans. If you love the Jaguars or Seahawks or Titans, teams that have never won a Super Bowl and are nowhere near it now, grabbing Manning would be a no-brainer.

But for Broncos fans, Super Bowl success is not yet a distant memory. We had a Hall of Fame quarterback as recently as the late 1990s, when John Elway led the team to back-to-back Super Bowl titles. Desperation hasn't yet set in.

Elway, who is now vice president of football operations for the Broncos, knows better than most what it takes to win in the NFL. Before his two Super Bowl victories, No. 7 threw 52 orange-jersied Lilliputians on his broad shoulders and led them to three Super Bowl appearances.

Now, a decade later, the league is even more quarterback-centric: the 2001 Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens, with their wrecking-ball defense and merely a caretaker quarterback, seem like relics of a different era. The past nine Super Bowl-winning teams have been led by the following names: Brady, Brady, Roethlisberger, Manning (Peyton), Manning (Eli), Roethlisberger, Brees, Rodgers, Manning (Eli again). All elite quarterbacks; most, if not all, destined for Canton.

It's not every day such a singular talent falls from the sky – Manning is the greatest commodity to hit the open market since Apple went public. So it would be easy to say "yes," and the Broncos have.

And yet what of relentlessly positive Tebow? It doesn't feel right kicking him to the curb. As an unabashed Christian he has been polarizing. And yet he is the ultimate company man, representing his organization with class and dignity. Plus, winning with homegrown talent always seems more satisfying than with a hired gun.

And what about what Tebow did last season? He was supposed to be a stopgap – a bone thrown to the fans. He was supposed to fail and the Broncos would move on. But he didn't fail. He led the Broncos to one of the more improbable and inspiring division titles in recent memory.

Was it always Hall-of-Fame caliber offensive football? Certainly not. But it was gripping stuff. And his 80-yard pass to beat the Pittsburgh Steelers on the first play of overtime in the first round of the playoffs gave us one of the great moments in Bronco history.

So: guaranteed success for a handful of years, or possible ups with many likely downs through 2025?  

It's a no-brainer.

I'll take Tebow.


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