Under different circumstances, Tim Tebow could have had a lengthy NFL career. On the right team, with the right coaching staff, the Heisman Trophy winner’s dual-threat skills could have added a dangerous dimension to an NFL offense.
The Broncos had no use for him after acquiring Peyton Manning. The Jets barely bothered trying to put him on the field. The Patriots and Eagles cut Tebow in the preseason.
If only he could have connected with Sean Payton.
Before pursuing a professional career in baseball, Tebow told Nola.com that the New Orleans Saints coach approached him about a multi-position role with the team, but Tebow said he wasn’t interested in giving up on a career as a quarterback yet. Now, the former Florida star has seen what could have been, with Saints backup quarterback Taysom Hill being successfully utilized in situational plays and special teams for the NFC’s No. 1 seed.
Tebow, 31, didn’t specify when the offer was made of Payton “trying to get me to come do that-ish, here,” the Mets’ minor league star said, in reference to Hill.
“He did a good job making it clear what he thought,” Tebow told Nola.com. “It just wasn’t necessarily in my heart at the time. It was cool. It wasn’t like I was totally against it. Love Coach Payton. He’s one of the best coaches out there. For me, I still wanted to pursue being a quarterback and then baseball. Sometimes it’s not that you dislike something. It’s that you have something even more in your heart.”
If not for Payton, Hill could have been bounced from the NFL even quicker than Tebow, who appeared in 35 career games after being drafted by the Broncos in the first round in 2010. Hill, a former BYU star, went undrafted in 2017, and was waived by the Packers before the regular season started. He was quickly claimed by the Saints, but still wasn’t promoted to the active roster for another three months.
This season, Hill, 28, has occasionally replaced Drew Brees in short-yardage and goal-line packages, and been a key special teams contributor, rushing for 196 yards and two touchdowns, while also blocking a punt, throwing seven passes, making three receptions, returning kickoffs and recording six tackles.
“If he was on a better team — I’m not trying to knock his college team — if he was on a better team, I think he would have had a chance to be special,” Tebow said of Hill’s injury-marred college career. “You put him on the field with good teams and see what he could do, I think he could have done really well. I liked watching him a lot.”
All this time, we still could have been watching Tebow.