The signs are looming bigger that Tim Tebow does not have an immediate future in the NFL. Even New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick couldn't use him. And if Belichick – who has always found the best way to utilize players with unique skills – couldn't find a spot for Tebow, who else will?
Now Steve Clarkson, the quarterback guru who worked with Tebow this past offseason, has said Tebow should go to Canada. But does Tebow want to play in Canada? He has always insisted his plan is to be an NFL quarterback, even to the point of resisting a position change as many have suggested he needs to do.
And yet even if Tebow decides he needs to go to the Canadian Football League, does the CFL want him?
"I own his rights and I never even spoke to the guy," Montreal Alouettes coach and general manager Jim Popp told Yahoo Sports two days before Tebow's final preseason game with the Patriots.
The Alouettes acquired Tebow's rights years ago at the request of then head coach Marc Trestman, who had worked with Tebow before the 2010 NFL draft. At the time, Trestman was in his third year as Montreal's coach, but was allowed by the team to privately train quarterbacks in the offseason, which he spent near Raleigh, N.C.
Before acquiring Tebow's rights, Popp asked the coach if he would change the offense to accommodate Tebow's skills, and Trestman said he would. But that was also with the expectation that Tebow was going to be drafted in the NFL and the subject was moot. At the time, the Alouettes had just won a Grey Cup with Anthony Calvillo, the league's most decorated quarterback who remains with the club.
Calvillo, 41, has barely practiced and hasn't played in a game since Aug. 17, when he suffered a concussion. Montreal is playing former Arkansas Tech quarterback Tanner Marsh and recently signed Troy Smith, another former Heisman Trophy winner who has had trouble sticking in the NFL. Adding Tebow might draw attention and sell a few more tickets, but with Trestman having left to coach the Chicago Bears, the quarterback mentor who might have been willing to alter the offense for Tebow is no longer around.
Popp is coaching the Alouettes only because he fired former Colorado coach Dan Hawkins earlier in the season. If Popp hires a new coach next winter, there is no guarantee that man will want to use Tebow or create an offense that uses Tebow's skills.
"Would I look at him? Sure he's a winner," Popp said, echoing a word many coaches say when describing Tebow's advantages. "Would he ever be the starter? I have no idea."
Because the CFL uses a three-down system, there is a premium on going for first downs on third-and-1 and third-and-2 situations. A quarterback who can scramble as Tebow has proven to do, could be effective in Canada. This makes him intriguing, especially on the CFL's wider fields.
"The bigger, stronger backup quarterback you have who can run a quarterback sneak, the more advantage you got," Popp said. "So he can play that role. There's a lot of kind of college read option, the Vince Young offense when you're sitting here and you can make the guy miss. It's the [Colin] Kaepernick offense. A lot of that stuff you see in this league."
But Popp has many of the same concerns as other NFL coaches. Can Tebow fix his footwork, improve his accuracy and hit receivers?
"This league, because the field is so wide, you still have to throw the ball, and I don't know if Tim Tebow would ever work in this league," Popp said. "He would have the opportunity to run the ball in this league but if you can't make all the throws, you can't play in this league."
In the end, the thing that has cost Tebow in the NFL might be the thing that keeps him out of Canada. This continues to make him the most confounding professional player in the U.S. – a player who led a team to a division title, won a playoff game with an 80-yard touchdown pass in overtime, was maybe the most famous player in the NFL only a year and a half ago and now has nothing.
Perhaps not even in the league long seen as the refuge for American players trying to make it back to the NFL.
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