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There isn't a more passionate fan base than that of the Green Bay Packers. There isn't a figure in all of sports that draws more of a reaction than Tim Tebow.
As a result, when ESPN's Chris Mortensen mentioned Green Bay as a potential landing spot for Tebow, the twitterverse blew up. Just uttering the word "Tebow" lights a fire under football fans, and they instantly feel required to speak out and voice their opinion on how great or how awful Tim Tebow really is.
My personal stance on Tebow hasn't changed; the guy has been a winner at every level, but my eyes tell me that he's not a good professional quarterback. I don't fault Tebow for being so open about his religion, nor do I rip him for his shortcomings at the position that ultimately lead to an NFL team running an unconventional, heavily run-oriented offense. It's what Tebow is good at.
The one real criticism I've maintained on Tebow is in regards to how he answers questions and deals with the media. It's my belief that as a professional athlete in the NFL, part of your job is to answer questions honestly and deal with the media head-on.
You could ask Tim Tebow what his favorite ice cream is, and he'd probably go on to tell you how thankful he is that the Lord gave us the option between blue moon or chocolate, waffle cone or cake cone.
The constant "say nothing," almost robotic answers can be a bit much for me. Being openly religious is one thing, but there are plenty of Christians across the league that choose to represent their beliefs in other ways.
During last season, Packers QB Aaron Rodgers talked about his faith with Packers beat writer Jason Wilde on his weekly in-season radio show on ESPN Milwaukee:
"My desire has always been to follow a quote from St. Francis of Assisi, who said, 'Preach the gospel at all times. If necessary, use words.' So basically, I’m not an over-the-top, or an in-your-face kind of guy with my faith. I would rather people have questions about why I act the way I act, whether they view it as positive or not, and ask questions, and then given an opportunity at some point, then you can talk about your faith a little bit."
Rodgers chooses to express his faith in a different manner than Tim Tebow, who chooses to use every opportunity he has to forwardly praise God. That's fine. Both guys are grown men, and they have their own values. I just think Rodgers sees his public image in a very clear lens, and he chooses to give a thought-out, honest answer to any questions the media has.
The possibility of Tim Tebow joining Rodgers in Green Bay is an interesting one. The phenomenon known as "Tebow-Mania" wouldn't be quieter anywhere else. Packer fans know who their quarterback is; he's the reigning NFL MVP and a Super Bowl Champion. You will not find any logical Packer fans kicking and screaming to see Tim Tebow on the field instead of Aaron Rodgers. You can save your argument that Tebow won more playoff games in 2012 than Aaron Rodgers did. Get real.
Going back to the 1990s, the Packers have a history of successfully developing quarterbacks into starters. Current head coach Mike McCarthy and offensive coordinator Tom Clements are well-respected around the league for their ability to tutor young quarterbacks. Former 7th round pick Matt Flynn went through the "McCarthy QB school" and just signed a contract with the Seattle Seahawks to be their new starting quarterback.
Sure I'd like to be a starter if I'm Tim Tebow, but it'd make a lot of sense for him to sit and learn behind an elite player like Aaron Rodgers and a QB guru in Mike McCarthy.
Assuming Rodgers stays healthy, the only way Tim Tebow would see the field in 2012 is if McCarthy implemented a specific package for him. Given the Packers' struggles with the run game in short-yardage situations in recent seasons, allowing Tebow to take a direct snap and power forward close to the goal line would make some sense. Although, when you have a QB that throws 45 TD to just 6 INT, passing in goal-to-go situations seems like a good option.
On the depth chart, Tebow would compete with Graham Harrell to be the top backup. I honestly believe Harrell is a better overall quarterback, but Tebow could be the second-string guy on Sundays if McCarthy has a plan for him somewhere within his offensive gameplan. In the event that Rodgers went down to injury, I'd guess that McCarthy would have Harrell run with the first team the following week in practice and prepare him to be the team's starter.
McCarthy had some very positive things to say about Tebow prior to the 2010 Draft:
“I’d love the opportunity to develop him. He’s a winner, and I’m excited to see what he does in the National Football League. He wins games, he’s a tremendous competitor and he’s like a lot of young quarterbacks; there’s some things he can work on to improve on. But you can see his tremendous passion in the way he plays the game, and it will be interesting to see who has the opportunity to develop him."
The always cautious Packers certainly wouldn't have to worry about a character concern in regards to Tebow. He'd fit into the locker room, and not only that, he'd be "just another guy." This team has its leaders in Rodgers, Charles Woodson, Greg Jennings, and Donald Driver. Tebow would be just one more piece to the puzzle, and in Green Bay he wouldn't create nearly the firestorm that came to fruition with the Denver Broncos.
Combined with a losing record, part of the reason that fans were so adamant on seeing Tebow on the field in Denver was the subpar play of starter Kyle Orton.
On the surface, Jacksonville and Miami come to mind as being the most likely destinations for Tebow. Because Tebow played collegiately in Gainesville, Dolphins' owner Stephen Ross and Jaguars' owner Shahid Kahn will likely be interested in acquiring Tebow to pique fan interest and increase ticket sales. Miami head coach Joe Philbin and Jacksonville head coach Mike Mularkey, both first-year coaches, might not share the same opinion as their respective owners.
This could spell "Tebow-Mania" all over again. If Tebow is the backup in Jacksonville behind average players like Blaine Gabbert or Chad Henne, or in Miami behind Matt Moore or David Garrard, the fan base would be clamoring to see Tebow whenever the starter throws an incomplete pass. An interception would be a death sentence.
In Green Bay with McCarthy and Clements, or in New England with Josh McDaniels, Tebow would not only have the opportunity to learn from a bright offensive mind, but he'd be able to see first-hand how to play the position by holding the clipboard and watching Aaron Rodgers or Tom Brady.
Since Ted Thompson holds on to his draft picks like fine pieces of china, it's unlikely he'd be willing to match an offer that Miami or Jacksonville likely will propose. When the Packers are rewarded with conditional draft choices based on their losses in free agency last year in the coming weeks, Thompson may explore a Tebow trade if he can be acquired for a 6th round pick or something similar. However, the more likely scenario resulting in Tebow wearing the green and gold would be if Denver is unable to trade him and ultimately decide to release him.
If the stars align perfectly and Ted Thompson thinks Tebow could help the Packers, it makes some sense. There's no point in taking your picket signs to 1265 Lombardi and petitioning one way or another for Tim Tebow because it just wouldn't be a big deal.
If Tebow comes to Green Bay he'd be "just a guy," and in the words - or tweet - of Bleacher Report's Aaron Nagler "Our beeeench, is an awe-some beeench..."