The images were indelible for Denver fans or anyone watching on TV.
On the sidelines, Tim Tebow was Tebowing after scoring yet another late touchdown. In his box upstairs, John Elway was trying his best to look excited about a quarterback he could barely stand to watch.
It was a shotgun marriage from the beginning, this unlikely pairing of a Hall of Fame passer with a quarterback who never seems comfortable in the pocket. Now they are likely to divorce, because with Peyton Manning coming aboard there’s going to be a different kind of mania sweeping the mile-high city.
For that, Bronco fans can thank the good people running the Indianapolis Colts.
Without Manning on the open market, Elway likely would have been forced by popular demand to keep Tebow, just as the Broncos were finally forced to play him last year.
Manning gave him an opening. The move was brilliant, assuming Manning is healthy and remains healthy. That’s a big assumption, but Vegas oddsmakers quickly gave it their stamp of approval, lowering the odds of the Broncos winning the Super Bowl from as high as 50-1 to 10-1.
But what about Tebow?
Does he remain in Denver as a backup to a quarterback who almost never took a snap off when he was healthy? Hard to imagine, especially because the new offense essentially will be Manning’s offense – no match for Tebow’s skill set. And surely Elway wouldn’t want to be in his box hearing chants of “We want Tebow” once again, should Manning somehow get off to a rocky start.
But what do you do with a wobbly armed quarterback who never seems to pick it up until the fourth quarter? A quarterback who somehow found ways to win, but whose real attraction is as an attraction who can fill seats?
Nobody’s going to offer a first-round pick for Tebow like the one the Broncos used to select him – before Elway’s arrival. Nobody’s going to retool their offense to take advantage of his running skills when there are still so many questions about his passing skills.
As popular as he is, Tebow is just another commodity, another player to fill a position on a depth chart. Denver could keep him as a backup because his contract is relatively cheap, but it doesn’t make much sense for a lot of different reasons.
With a four-time NFL MVP aboard, Tebow’s future is elsewhere.