It wouldn’t be springtime without hearing that Tim Tebow might consider coming to Canada to play professional football.
The latest round of Tebow-to-the-CFL rumours comes from his former head coach at the University of Florida, Urban Meyer. Meyer, who now coaches at Ohio State, was providing guest analysis during the NFL Network’s Scouting Combine coverage when the talk turned to the future of his former star quarterback.
“I was actually in a conversation with him about going to Canada,” Meyer said. “If there’s a right (situation) I think he’d probably do it.”
Here we go again.
This is nothing new, as for years we have heard of Tebow possibly coming to the CFL to revive his stagnant, and now nonexistent, professional football career. It happened during the 2012 NFL season when he was on the verge of being released by the New York Jets, then again after he was cut by the New England Patriots in 2013 and once more after he was released by Philadelphia Eagles in 2015. Whenever the future playing career of Tim Tebow is being discussed, the idea of him playing in the CFL is inevitably brought up.
But here is the thing with Tim Tebow, and why any foray to Canada won’t have the desired outcome for him or his fans: he can’t throw. It is really that simple. All one needs to do is check out his atrocious passing numbers in the NFL to know that he simply is not good enough passer to play in the CFL. His 47.9 career completion percentage is exceptionally bad, but looks even worse when you consider that Tebow started 14 games over two seasons with the Denver Broncos, and completed more than 60 per cent of his passes in a game just once and had just five games where his completion percentage was above 50 per cent. Those are bad numbers, but it gets worse. He also had five starts where his completion percentage was under 45 per cent, and he even had a game where he went 2 for 8. Two completions! He has simply not proven capable of being even a mediocre passer at the professional level, and in the CFL you need to throw the football to win games. Period. And Tebow has never shown the ability to do that.
Now many will probably point to Tebow’s excellent running skill as a reason why he would be successful in the CFL. It is the go-to argument for his advocates, and while mobile quarterbacks have historically done very well in the three-down game, they were not run-first guys like Tebow. All-time greats like Doug Flutie and Damon Allen or current stars like Zach Collaros and Mike Reilly have all done well making plays with their feet, but they also have made many more plays with their arms. Guys who are more runner than passer — recent examples that spring to mind are guys like Quinton Porter and Steven Jyles — never truly developed into viable, long-term starters because they simply could not throw the ball consistently. If there is one thing Tim Tebow has shown at the professional level, it is a lack of being able to pass the ball with any type of sustained success.
Also, running is not a prerequisite for success in the CFL. No one would dare say that Danny McManus, Ricky Ray, Anthony Calvillo or Kevin Glenn were fleet of foot, but they were or are amongst some of the most-successful quarterbacks to ever play in the CFL because they could make plays with their arms, had quick releases or were deadly accurate. Tebow has never shown any of those skills since leaving Gainesville in 2010.
The idea that so many have seemed to present to Tebow, including former Philadelphia Eagles coach Chip Kelly as recent as last year, is that the two-time BCS National Champion needs to play in the CFL so he can get the reps needed to improve as a quarterback and possibly make it back to the NFL. But there is one fatal flaw in that assessment: Tebow won’t get reps.
Practice time is at premium in the CFL and reps in practice go mostly to the starter. Unless Tebow was handed the reins to the offense, his reps would be severely limited, hampering his ability to progress like many in the U.S. think he will should he finally decide Canada is worthy of his presence. There is simply no way a team would hand the keys over to Tebow just for showing up. That would be disastrous.
Except the team that currently holds Tebow’s CFL rights does have a history of bringing in big name players and putting them front and centre despite never having played a down of Canadian football. That team would be the Montreal Alouettes.
Alouettes general manager Jim Popp is notorious for bringing in former NFL players in an effort to drum up interest and create headlines. Lawrence Phillips, Ahman Green, Jerry Porter, Chad Johnson and, of course, Michael Sam are just some of the notable players Popp has brought to Montreal from the NFL over the years. While Phillips was somewhat of a success on the field, he rushed for over 1,000 yards and 13 touchdowns while helping Montreal win the Grey Cup in 2002, his off-the-field behaviour led to his release the following season. The rest either never saw the field in a game (Green, Porter), were highly ineffective (Johnson) or a complete side show (Sam). When Lawrence Phillips is the success story, you know things didn’t go as planned.
If the Als do reach out to Tebow and bring him in, it will more than likely play out just like when the team brought in Michael Sam last year. All the hoopla was for nothing, as Sam played in just one game before bailing on the team and the league. Sam said he never wanted to play in the CFL, but did so to try and revive his career. That story sounds very similar to Tebow’s.
Tim Tebow will probably never play a down in the CFL, and will probably never even sign a contract with a CFL team. But until the former Heisman winner officially gives up on playing professional football, expect “Tebow to the CFL” to continue to be an annual rite of spring.