- Bill Williamson, ESPN Staff Writer
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We had no earthly clue all this would happen (frankly, our heads are still spinning), but what a goodbye it was for Tim Tebow in Denver.
The last memory of Tebow in Denver was a victory lap much to the delight of a delirious -- and adoring -- home crowd after a stunning 80-yard pass to Demaryius Thomas on the first play of overtime to give Denver its first playoff win in six years.
Thanks for the memories, Tebow-mania. It has been forever closed in Denver.
The state of Colorado is all yours, Peyton Manning.
And John Elway and John Fox must be congratulated for it. Thanks to New York -- though it took a few hours longer than expected -- they escaped Tebow-mania.
Ending a surreal 12-day turn of events, the Broncos sent Tebow to the Jets on Wednesday. The Jets sent two picks -- a fourth-rounder and sixth-rounder in 2012 -- to the Broncos in exchange for a seventh-round selection. After realizing the deal also included a $5 million payout, the Jets then balked before the two teams agreed to split the difference in the day.
This wasn’t about compensation. The Broncos will take their third-day draft picks and move on. It’s all about Manning in Denver.
Manning is all Elway and Fox are thinking about and they are thrilled. Oh, and they are relieved. Give Denver credit for making a bad fit work last year. It changed its offense on the fly, dealt with the pressure of Tebow-mania and it went much further than anyone ever thought it would be with the unpolished kid, who the new brass inherited from former coach Josh McDaniels.
This is the perfect ending for Denver.
It was an ending Denver couldn’t foresee. That’s why Elway said, directly after the season, that Tebow would enter training camp as the starting quarterback. Elway was not intentionally lying.
He believed it at the time because he didn’t think any other better options were available. The only options that would have allowed the Broncos to end Tebow-mania were draft prospects Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III, but Luck and Griffin were both out of reach.
But when the Colts cut Manning, the Broncos made him their priority. When Elway’s phone rang Monday morning with Manning’s decision, Tebow was gone from Denver.
Who can complain? Everybody has to understand this decision. Elway said Tebow even understood.
Now, Elway -- one of the most dynamic football players of all-time -- is able to run his football team the way he wants to. He has a superstar quarterback. It had to hurt Elway’s football senses that his team’s offense had to get by with the option last season. Folks joked that Elway looked pained when Tebow pulled off his fourth-quarter or overtime wins.
Elway loved the winning, but he had to find a way to do it his way. Signing Manning is his way. Now, he can build his team around Manning and he can do it without the intense fishbowl that Tebow-mania created.
Fox won’t have to worry about designing versions of the options to keep defenses at bay. Nor does he have to wonder if Tebow’s accuracy issues will ruin his Sunday afternoon.
It’s Manning’s offense now and it’s all about football. That’s all the Broncos wanted. That’s why they traded him less than 24 hours after signing Manning.
The Denver Broncos, once again, are a football team and no longer a sideshow.
1dEric D. Williams
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