Tim Tebow, the most fascinating rookie in the NFL, officially has a team and a contract. The clean-cut quarterback from the University of Florida signed a five-year deal with the Denver Broncos that could be worth as much as US$33 million (Dh121m) and now can get on with the business of selling tickets, jerseys and perhaps performing against actual opponents.
The Broncos drafted Tebow with the 25th pick in the first round in April, a decision derided by many NFL executives who believe a great college quarterback will not make a competent professional if he has an inartistic throwing motion and was at least as well known for his bruising running as his precise passing. Still, many consider him the best college player ever and he is creating the kind of buzz in Denver that the young John Elway did back in 1983.
Tebow's jersey already is a best-seller, and he is pitching products for Jockey, EA Sports and Nike. He is sure to be under a microscope as he competes with the veterans Kyle Orton and Tom Brady for the quarterback job. His contract is for $11.25m, with $8.7m guaranteed, but the value of it could rise to $33m if he earns the numerous incentive clauses written into it. Part of Tebow's appeal, in addition to the two national championships he won while leading Florida, is his squeaky clean image.
Before he signed, Tebow said the Broncos would "get my heart and soul and everything that comes with it". Of his immediate goals with the Broncos, he said: "I'm gonna go in there and do what the coaches tell me and I'll fit in whatever way I can." Advertisers already like what they see. One chief executive said Tebow was a no-lose pitch man because he "is the one guy who is not going to be in a scandal two or three years from now".
Tebow's teammates are not concerned that he might collapse under all the attention. "As successful as he's been, I'm sure he can handle it," said Russ Hochstein, a 10-year veteran. * Agencies