Did you hear the one about the deeply religious quarterback who turned his last chance at football into one of the NFL's most legendary careers? No, no. Not Tim Tebow. Not yet.
While Kurt Warner is knocking on Canton's door as a Hall of Fame candidate, Tebow is just another guy who's gotten his share of second, third, and now fourth shots at football. He joined the Philadelphia Eagles Monday morning, who have more than their fill of worthy QB1s, and he'll just be hoping to make the team when training camp breaks. So after their Biblical devotion, the comparisons between he and Warner essentially stop.
Warner's journey to NFL stardom is still the stuff of football folklore. How he played in the Arena League and NFL Europe after failing to make the Packers as an undrafted free agent, how he came back to the NFL, got one last dying-wish chance when St. Louis Rams starter Trent Green got injured in preseason, and went on to win the Super Bowl and two MVPs.
Tebow's journey in and out of football is more the stuff of sports slapstick (albeit with a good highlight or two). But now he is getting another chance at the job. The Eagles will be Tebow's fourth team in four years (fifth team if you count his years as a broadcaster at ESPN), despite head coach Chip Kelly's stinging 2011 evaluation of the limp-armed QB.
Tebow has worked for three NFL teams, but he's only really played for one, the Denver Broncos. The Jets traded for Tebow in 2012 and he saw more action on special teams as the punter's personal bodyguard than he did at QB. The Jets released Tebow after one season and, following a poor training camp with the Patriots in 2013, he was cut again.
But now he's back for a fourth crack at winning an NFL job and Tebow has gotten as many chances to prove himself as some of the most notorious players in recent football history. It is a bit ironic that despite being an all-around good guy with a spotless record and a milk-and-cookies personality, the number of opportunities he's had to function a pro football player are on par with the likes of Pacman Jones (three chances), Chad Johnson (three), Terrell Owens (six), Richie Incognito (four), Albert Haynesworth (four), and Bill Romanowski (four).
This year, it is expected that 2014 bad boys Adrian Peterson and Ray Rice will also get the opportunity to return to the game. Earlier this year, Greg Hardy, convicted of domestic violence, also got another chance.
All of the names on list above share the common denominator of being bad guys (Romanowski once broke a teammate's face), except most of those guys could flat-out play. Despite their off-field problems and me-first antics, those players found multiple homes on NFL rosters, for but a season here and there. They found work because they were good.
Not good guys. Good players.
So here comes Tim Tebow 4.0, by all accounts a good guy and a mediocre talent, getting another stab at an NFL life. With the Eagles, he'll be reunited with Mark Sanchez, the QB his presence in New York psyched-out when he was there, and a head coach that is on the record saying Tebow isn't good enough to play for him despite his Tebow-friendly system.
Coaches once said Kurt Warner wasn’t good enough, either. But he did something Tebow has never been able to do: He proved them all wrong. Maybe someday Tebow will, too.