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Tim Tebow
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Tim Tebow

Patriot games

Sports | The Tim Tebow circus is headed for New England

Issue: "Terrific and timely," June 29, 2013

When the New York Jets released backup quarterback Tim Tebow in late April, the two-time national champion in college suddenly found himself in a national silence. The phone simply didn’t ring. NFL teams appeared uninterested in signing a player whose 13-month stint with the Jets proved more distraction than production. Tebow took only 70 offensive snaps last season as the team languished to a 6-10 record. The general manager who acquired Tebow and the offensive coordinator who failed to use him were fired. Who would dare take a similar risk?

Enter Bill Belichick. The longtime Patriots coach has snatched Tebow from the clutches of an NFL exit, signing him this month to back up future Hall of Fame quarterback Tom Brady. Unlike the situation with New York, Tebow’s presence on the Patriots’ roster generates no controversy over who will start under center. What’s more, Belichick is not likely to entertain much media inquiry about a player buried in the depth chart. For the first time in his three-year professional career, might Tebow blend in as just one of the guys?

Don’t count on it. The media circus that has surrounded Tebow since the Denver Broncos selected him in the first round of the 2010 draft had all three rings in full operation within hours of the Patriots’ signing. Every sports columnist, blogger, and talking head weighed in on the development, some speculating that Belichick would work his coaching magic on a player yet to prove his NFL passing chops. Others argued the move smacked of desperation for a team whose once explosive offense has slowed in recent years. Some even suggested the signing was just a ploy for the Patriots to gain information about a rival’s playbook.

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Never has so much speculation swirled over the acquisition of a backup not likely to see much playing time. Such is Tebow’s curse, the attention and interest in his every move generates undue expectations, undue adulation, and undue criticism. But Tebow doesn’t seem to mind, often using that spotlight to speak of his faith in Jesus. Given the Patriots’ history of deep runs in the playoffs, a roster spot in New England, even one on the bench, could elevate Tebow’s platform higher than ever before. His Christianity is sure to be on display. There’s no hiding light under Super Bowls.

True originals

Handout

Not since 1979 has the NHL seen two of its original six teams face off in the Stanley Cup Final. But when the Chicago Blackhawks and Boston Bruins cruised to victories in their respective conference championships, they set up just that—an original six series.

The demarcation of an original set of teams is unique to hockey among the big four North American team sports. Along with the Blackhawks and Bruins, the Detroit Red Wings, Montreal Canadiens, New York Rangers, and Toronto Maple Leafs all joined the NHL between 1917 and 1926 and never relocated or underwent a name change.

Determining a set of original teams in the NBA or MLB poses a greater challenge. In baseball, only the Cincinnati Reds, Chicago White Sox, and Detroit Tigers have never changed name or city. But teams like the Chicago Cubs (formerly the Chicago White Stockings), Boston Red Sox (formerly the Boston Americans), and Cleveland Indians (formerly the Cleveland Blues) might lay claim to some semblance of original status. In basketball, only the Boston Celtics and New York Knicks have maintained the same name and city since the founding of the NBA in 1949.

The NFL is even more difficult for finding originals. The Green Bay Packers are the longest-standing franchise to maintain name and city, joining the league in 1921. Only two other organizations from that era still exist—the Chicago Bears, who were initially the Decatur Staleys, and the Arizona Cardinals, who were initially the Chicago Cardinals. —M.B.

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