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Monday, April 29, 2013
Timeline: Tebow has left the building

By Rich Cimini

A look back at the highlights (all three of them) and lowlights (too many to count) of Tim Tebow’s brief time in New York:

March 19 -- Coach Rex Ryan and general manager Mike Tannenbaum are sipping on Ben & Jerry’s milkshakes at Newark Airport, waiting for a flight to the North Carolina pro day, when Tannenbaum broaches the idea of trading for Tebow. Peyton Manning is on the verge of signing with the Denver Broncos, so Tannenbaum figures Tebow will be available.

March 21 -- The Jets complete one of the biggest and most controversial trades in team history, acquiring Tebow and a seventh-round pick for fourth- and sixth-round picks. They agree to pay $2.53 million to the Broncos to satisfy a clause in Tebow’s contract, the source of a disagreement between the two teams that nearly blows up the trade.

March 22 -- Tebow lands in Morristown, N.J., via private jet, to visit the Jets’ facility. News choppers fly overhead, following his car on the short drive to the facility -- an O.J.-like scene. No white Bronco, though.

March 24 -- One week after signing backup QB Drew Stanton as a free agent, the Jets trade him to the Indianapolis Colts for a sixth-round pick -- an embarrassing about-face for the organization. Stanton complained after the Tebow trade, forcing the Jets’ hand. It costs them $500,000, the amount of Stanton’s signing bonus.

March 26 -- In perhaps the first news conference in history for a backup quarterback, Tebow is introduced at a Super Bowl-sized gathering in the team’s fieldhouse. It attracts more than 200 credentialed media types, 36 TV cameras and at least 12 satellite trucks outside. Oddly, no one from the team’s hierarchy is present; they’re in Florida at the league meetings.

May 10 -- Tebow reveals he has changed the name of his dog, a Rhodesian ridgeback, to fit with his new address. Say hello to Bronx, formerly known as Bronco. Believe it or not, this makes headlines. Is another name change in the offing for the dog?

July 27 -- Tebow makes his training-camp debut in Cortland, N.Y., a closed practice in which he struggles mightily -- a harbinger.

July 28 -- The shirt hits the fan. Following a rain-soaked practice, Tebow makes national news by removing his jersey and running shirtless to the locker room, parting the rain drops. A video of his jaunt hits the Internet and goes viral. Poking fun at himself, he shows up for a quarterbacks meeting later in the day wearing no shirt.

Tim Tebow
In terms of volume, Tim Tebow's introduction to New York was the largest news conference in the history of the Jets franchise.
Aug. 2 -- With ESPN cameras recording his every move, Tebow provides a made-for-TV moment, scoring on a routine goal-line drill -- the first glimpse of the highly anticipated Wildcat.

Aug. 10 -- Tebow makes his preseason debut with a predictable performance. He scrambled four times to lead the team in rushing, but he was shaky as a passer, throwing a terrible interception -- another harbinger.

Aug. 13 -- In a laughable display of paranoia, the Jets hold a closed practice devoted largely to the Wildcat. Reporters are permitted to watch, but they’re not allowed to report details. Coordinator Tony Sparano, not the trusting type, instructs players to form a wall on the sideline, blocking the view of reporters. ESPN reports live, but the crew is told to keep the camera far from the field.

Aug. 30 -- Owner Woody Johnson puts foot in mouth, telling a TV interviewer that "I think you can never have too much Tebow." The comment naturally becomes a headline, fueling the perception it was Johnson’s idea to acquire Tebow.

Sept. 9 -- In the grand unveiling, Tebow and the Wildcat are a flop in the season-opening win over the Buffalo Bills. Tebow rushed five times for 11 yards, resulting in a smattering of boos -- yet another harbinger.

Sept. 18 -- In a Q & A with ESPNNewYork.com, Tebow makes news by revealing post-football political aspirations. It provides monologue fodder for TV talk-show host Jimmy Fallon. If Tebow tries to pass a bill, Fallon cracks, it will get intercepted over the middle.

Sept. 20 -- An ominous sign: A testy Sparano, supposedly the godfather of the Wildcat, defends his use of Tebow (or lack thereof) by explaining that using a player with Tebow’s skill set is "uncharted territory." It’s the first indication that Sparano isn’t on board.

Sept. 23 -- Tebow appears in 12 offensive snaps against the Miami Dolphins. Why is this significant? It turns out to be a season high, far below the 20-snap max predicted by Ryan in the offseason.

Oct. 8 -- Tim throws! Tim throws! Before a Monday-night TV audience, the Jets actually let him throw a pass from under center. Tebow unleashes a beauty, a perfectly thrown deep pass -- and Jason Hill drops it.

Oct. 10 -- The boss strikes again. In another TV interview, Johnson says he expects Tebow to remain with the Jets for the duration of his contract -- through 2014.

Nov. 11 -- Tebow suffers a fractured rib in an ugly loss to the Seahawks -- except the team doesn’t disclose it until 11 days later. Tebow misses his first (and only) chance to score a touchdown, but his big moment is ruined by a penalty.

Nov. 22 -- The first of many questionable quarterback decisions by Ryan. Tebow dresses but doesn’t play in a Thanksgiving night loss to the New England Patriots. (Remember the Butt Fumble?) Afterward, Tebow reveals the rib injury.

Dec. 2 -- Ryan finally decides to pull the slumping Mark Sanchez, but it occurs on a day in which Tebow is inactive. Greg McElroy saves the day against the Arizona Cardinals.

Dec. 9 -- Another head scratcher by Ryan: Tebow still isn’t 100 percent, but he’s the No. 2 quarterback and McElroy is inactive against the Jacksonville Jaguars. It’s a homecoming game for Tebow, who doesn’t see the field.

Dec. 17 -- On a Monday-night stage, the quarterback situation changes dramatically, perhaps forever. With an outside chance to make the playoffs, Sanchez (five turnovers) plays the worst game of his career -- but Ryan refuses to play Tebow for more than six snaps.

Dec. 18 -- Ryan announces a quarterback change, naming McElroy -- not Tebow -- the new starter. The next day, a clearly miffed Tebow expresses his disappointment. ESPNNewYork.com is the first to report the Jets will part ways after the season.

Dec. 23 -- This is rock bottom for Tebow, who is removed from the Wildcat package in favor of WR Jeremy Kerley. The Jets are tight-lipped, but ESPNNewYork.com reports that Tebow, frustrated with his role, told Ryan he didn’t want to be used in the Wildcat package.

Dec. 30 -- In his final game as a Jet, Tebow plays only one snap in a loss to the Bills. Afterward, he dodges questions about his future. He also refuses to look back, saying, "I’m not going to worry about if I was treated fair."

Jan. 11 -- Retired special teams coach Mike Westhoff, in an interview with a Miami radio station, calls the Tebow situation "an absolute mess."

Jan. 23 -- How’s this for a twist? Johnson tells people that Tebow was "forced" on him by his football staff, according to an ESPNNewYork.com report.

Jan. 28 -- Tannenbaum, fired after the season, takes responsibility for the Tebow trade. He tells ESPNNewYork.com that "it didn’t go as planned."

April 15 -- Tebow reports for the start of the Jets' offseason program, showing up at 6:30 a.m. ET, 90 minutes before the team meeting.

April 29 -- End of the Tebow era. Wearing his workout clothes, Tebow is summoned to GM John Idzik’s office. Idzik and Ryan inform him of his release. Wasting little time, Tebow leaves the building.