A report in "ESPN The Magazine" is suggesting that people close to Tim Tebow are saying that his National Football League career is probably over. If the report – and the sentiment – are true, then Tebow could be the first professional football player to lose his job because he was too popular.
Make no mistake, if Tebow's days in the NFL are done, it is not because of his horrible throwing mechanics. Or, perhaps more accurately, it is not primarily because of them.
As poor as his throwing mechanics are, they did not stop him from compiling an 8-4 record as a starter and leading the Denver Broncos into the second round of the playoffs in 2011.
As poor as his throwing mechanics are, they do not diminish the fact that he is a physical specimen who can run the read option offenses that took the NFL by storm last year.
True, his inability to pass the ball beyond the line of scrimmage with any consistency means that he will probably never be any team's long-term answer at quarterback. But it seems extraordinary that none of the league's 31 teams would want to bring on a quarterback with playoff experience and proven leadership qualities solely as a backup or as a change-of-pace option.
Yet extraordinary defines the situation perfectly.
What other backup quarterback without a team could be named Forbes's most influential athlete, as Tebow was? Normally, the traveling circus that is Tebowmania would be his greatest strength. The NFL, after all, is hardly averse to publicity. Anyone who thinks the Super Bowl is a football game – or even primarily a football game – has never been to Miami in February. It is all spectacle with only dribs and drabs of substance.
Yet even for the most popular sport in America, Tebow is too much. And that is extraordinary.
No coach wants to take on the baggage that is bigger than his own team. The online petitions calling on him to start. The replica jerseys for a man unlikely ever to leave the bench.
Tebow is not blameless in his own situation, of course. If he were a better thrower of the football, someone would be willing to give Tebowmania a shot, surely. Yet he is sitting at home, considering an end to a unique three-year career, because of a situation over which he has no control.