It’s 2016 and the dream of Tim Tebow returning to the NFL is still alive despite the fact he hasn’t appeared in a meaningful game since 2012. Those yearning for the charismatic lefty to return to football’s biggest stage have many reasons for holding out hope even in the face of long odds.
One of those reasons continues to be Tebow himself, who remains confident in his abilities.
CBS Sports Radio’s Doug Gottlieb this week asked if Tebow still had football in him.
"“I mean, for me, I’m in the best shape I’ve ever been in,” he said. “I’m still young, I still feel really good. So is that something that I feel like I can be an effective quarterback in the NFL? Yeah, I really do feel like I could be. But I think at the same time, there are a lot of other things that I’m doing that I love and that I’m blessed to do.” “Whether that’s being part of college football, whether that’s — I just wrote another book — whether that’s what my foundation is doing in 16 countries,” he continued. “I’m extremely busy doing a lot of things I love to do. Football is just one thing that I love to do. But it can’t become your everything because eventually you’re not going to be able to play, whether that’s today or five years from now. And if it’s your everything, when you’re done what do you do?”"
Tebow’s main mission in life is to make a difference. He’s found a way to do that without playing in the NFL. There has been no precipitous drop in his public profile since 2012. If anything, he’s been more free to pursue his passions.
The fact that he believes he can still help an NFL team isn’t surprising. Athletes of all shapes and abilities maintain a high opinion of their capabilities long after those tools have dulled. And to be fair, Tebow was asked directly about his future–he didn’t offer it as some sort of long-running campaign to get back in the league.
What I find most interesting about the Tebow situation is the level of irrational support he receives from ardent backers. Even if he were to come out and directly say he is retiring, I believe a significant portion of his fans would keep the flame alive on his behalf.
Tebow has always been an idea as much as he is an individual. He represents some sort of nebulous goodness laced with an inextricable dose of hope. He’s a canvass the public paints its own beliefs upon, especially the religious right.
There will come a time, and perhaps soon, when the tiny window of opportunity for him to return to the NFL will close. When it does, there will be an army of sycophants trying to pry it open.