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Tim Tebow to the Hamilton Tiger-Cats? Don’t go buying those jerseys just yet…

Tim Tebow at his opening press conference with the New York Jets.

It's been known for some time that new New York (unfortunately, not New New York) Jets quarterback Tim Tebow is on the Hamilton Tiger-Cats' negotiation list, and that's spurred plenty of discussion about the possibility of him playing in the CFL. The most recent developments along those lines come from an article from TSN's Dave Naylor, which makes the case that Tebow could be playing in the CFL sooner rather than later. Naylor makes some excellent points, and his scenario isn't terribly far-fetched, especially from a strict football perspective. However, the problem with discussing Tim Tebow is that there's so much more to the debate than football, and that's why any movement on the Tebow-to-the-CFL front seems likely to happen quite a ways down the road, if it ever happens.

From a strictly football perspective, Tebow does seem likely to be following a pattern that could lead him to the CFL. He was taken as a first-round pick out of college by the Denver Broncos (despite being a controversial selection at that time), but his play really hasn't been all that impressive from a statistical sense. His career completion percentage over two NFL seasons is 47.3 per cent, and he's thrown for an average of just 103.6 yards per game. Even if we only look at 2011, where he was a starter from midseason on, his completion percentage was a terrible 46.5 per cent and he averaged just 123.5 passing yards per game.

Those don't look like stats that would inspire a team to go with Tebow as a starting quarterback, and despite his impressive passing performance in Denver's playoff victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers this January, the Broncos apparently agreed, signing free agent Peyton Manning in a betrayal worthy of a musical and shipping Tebow off to the Jets for fourth-round and sixth-round picks in the process. The Jets apparently only want Tebow as their backup quarterback (albeit with an expanded Wildcat package role), so his NFL stock certainly doesn't seem all that high. Going on that alone, it wouldn't be unrealistic to see him in the CFL in a few years if he doesn't impress in New York.

However, the whole Tebow situation is full of extenuating circumstances. There's always been far more interest in him than in your average backup quarterback, and that's for a variety of reasons ranging from his outspokenness about his Christian faith to his reputed character and leadership to the Heisman Trophy and national championship he won in college at Florida. Long before he made it to the NFL, Tebow became one of the first athletes to have an entire blog dedicated to him, and everything about him is discussed much more than his play would suggest; there's a reason he appears almost as marketable as Oprah. NFL teams aren't going to ignore that; even if signing Tebow had no noticeable effect on the on-field results, it's still probably worth it just for the publicity, television coverage, ticket sales and jersey sales.

Tebow's on-field play comes into it, too, though. While many of us would suggest that his improbable streak of victories with the Broncos last fall were more a result of a good team and some luck than any innate superstardom, there are always plenty of football people willing to look at the inherently flawed statistic of quarterback wins and the intangibles of character and leadership, and that's not exclusive to the NFL; see the Blue Bombers trading Odell Willis for essentially a bag of footballs over intangible concerns. While plenty of smart fans consider Tebow a mediocre quarterback at best, there will always be people in management who think he's discovered some magic winning formula, and that's why the NFL interest in him is unlikely to dissipate immediately even if the New York situation doesn't work out. If you combine Tebow's talents (notably, running) with his reputation, his following and his marketability, you get something that's very attractive to a wide range of teams.

The biggest reason to question the idea of Tebow coming to the CFL has nothing to do with his NFL success or lack thereof, however. Say the very worst happens from the perspective of Tebow's NFL career; he struggles as a backup in New York, he's cut at the end of the 2012 season or sooner, and no other NFL team takes a look at him. Even if that happened, there are plenty of reasons to believe he wouldn't come to Canada. Tebow's marketability is so high that he can essentially create his own job outside football, whether that's working in sports (can you say ESPN?) or hosting a television or radio show, or even just appearing in various commercials. He's also made plenty of money over his NFL career so far, and he's going to make far more given his popularity; it's tough to see him giving that up for relative obscurity in Canada for a small salary as a backup quarterback. or even for a CFL-leading salary of say, $500,000 or so.

Tebow as a CFL quarterback only makes sense if he's completely out of NFL options and he's still determined to try and play football as a quarterback, but even then, there are alternative U.S. leagues that would probably pay him more and give him greater prominence. It's unclear if Tebow's going to stay in football forever, either, given the wide range of other opportunities that will undoubtedly be out there for him. It can't be completely ruled out that he could perhaps join a CFL team several years down the road, but the odds seem rather stacked against him. After all, he's not the Messiah; he's just a very inaccurate quarterback.

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