When John Fox walked into the hotel lobby at the NFL owners meetings in New Orleans in March, I knew I'd seen this guy before.
He was tan, relaxed and constantly joking, just like the Fox I first met when he was interviewing for the Carolina Panthers' head-coaching job back in 2002. Nearly a decade had passed, but Fox looked young and loose again -- so much different than in his last few years in Carolina.
That's because Fox had recently become head coach of the Denver Broncos. Sometimes change can be a wonderful thing.
Fox and John Elway might be wise to keep that in mind as they ponder what seems like a complex future for the Broncos. In fact, Fox and Elway might be making that future much more complex than it really needs to be.
Looks to me now like Fox's escape from Carolina was only a temporary escape from a permanent position as one of the most conventional coaches in the NFL. He and Elway, the team's executive vice president of football operations and perhaps the best stereotypical drop-back passer of all time, seem to be having a hard time embracing quarterback Tim Tebow.
There's talk the Broncos could go out and draft a more conventional quarterback. Or they could sign one in free agency. I can't guarantee anything, but I'm pretty sure Jake Delhomme and Kyle Orton will be available in March.
Is that really what the Broncos need?
No. Fox and Elway need to forget convention and stereotypes and fully commit to the quarterback who has helped them win six of their last seven games, including five in a row. If nothing else, Tebow has shown uncanny intangibles, and all those wins at the University of Florida didn't come by accident.
Look, I'll be the first to admit I didn't think Tebow was an NFL quarterback. To start with, he doesn't throw the ball anything like an NFL quarterback. He's a running back, fullback or tight end lining up at quarterback and somehow making things happen.
Fox and Elway need to do Tebow and themselves a big favor. They need to accept Tebow for what he is and not bash him for what he is not.
Sure, go ahead and add somebody who was bred as a pocket passer (word is Jimmy Clausen could be available) as an alternative for next year. But Tebow has earned the right to open next season as the starter, and to do it in an offense that's suited to his skills.
Offensive coordinator Mike McCoy is a bright guy who has a much more open mind than Fox and Elway. Whenever this season ends -- and that might not be for a while if Tebow continues his magic -- Fox and Elway should let McCoy disappear for a month.
When he comes back, McCoy should be allowed to hand Tebow a playbook that can put him in consistent positions to succeed. The guy deserves that because he's done a nice job of putting the Broncos in a nice position by simply winging it.