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Suddenly unwanted, Tebow has uncertain NFL future

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Suddenly unwanted, Tebow has uncertain NFL future

NEW YORK (AP) From nearly unstoppable to nearly invisible.

Tim Tebow was two wins from the Super Bowl a year ago. Now, he's pretty much a player without a team - likely to be released by the New York Jets after one frustrating season and his hometown team in Jacksonville already pulling in the welcome mat.

Even Tebow doesn't know how this will unfold. A backup role on another NFL team? A position change? The Canadian Football League?

``I don't know what my future holds, but I know who holds my future,'' the devout Christian said in a recent interview with Fox Business Network, his only public comments since his strange Jets season ended.

``And, in that,'' he added, ``there is a lot of peace and a lot of comfort.''

Tebow barely played for the Jets last season. ``An absolute mess,'' is the way recently retired special teams coordinator Mike Westhoff described it. Tebow has two years left on his contract, but New York is expected to trade or release him in the next few weeks. So far, destination unknown.

``I can't imagine a scenario in which he'll be a Jacksonville Jaguar,'' new general manager David Caldwell declared last week. ``Even if he's released.''

While there's an outside chance Tebow could remain a New Yorker, depending on the whims of the still-to-be-hired GM, it appears highly unlikely.

So, that's two NFL teams down - the only ones, at that, who showed any interest last offseason when Denver shopped him - and the 25-year-old Tebow's options appear to be dwindling.

``Tim Tebow is an extremely popular individual - or, he was,'' said former Cowboys executive Gil Brandt, now an analyst for NFL.com. ``I think his popularity has waned significantly the last three or four months.''

The buzz these days belongs to young quarterbacks like Washington's Robert Griffin III, Seattle's Russell Wilson, Indianapolis' Andrew Luck and San Francisco's Colin Kaepernick. It seems so long ago now that Tebowing - his signature dropping to a knee for a prayerful pose - was all the rage.

But even Tebow never Tebowed during the regular season for the Jets. Not once. Quite a fall for a Heisman Trophy winner and two-time national champion with the University of Florida, and whose No. 15 Broncos jersey ranked second in national sales to Green Bay's Aaron Rodgers in 2011.

``I think it's fair to say,'' Tebow acknowledged last month, ``that I'm a little disappointed.''

The Jets had every intention of trying to make things work with Tebow when general manager Mike Tannenbaum surprisingly acquired him from Denver last March - after Peyton Manning arrived - for fourth- and sixth-round draft picks. But once Tebow got on the field, something went woefully wrong.

Tebow went from being considered a key part of Rex Ryan's offense to almost non-existent. Offensive coordinator Tony Sparano didn't know how to use him effectively, and Tebow wasn't particularly productive when he got his few snaps in the wildcat-style formation. He made his biggest mark on special teams as the personal punt protector, and did all he could to hide his frustration at not playing. But the numbers said it all: a mere 102 yards rushing and 6-of-8 passing for 39 yards. And, the most damning stat of all: zero touchdowns.

``I would've liked to see him get a chance,'' defensive end Mike DeVito said.

It didn't even come when Mark Sanchez struggled so badly that he was benched for the first time in his career. Instead of going with Tebow, the No. 2 quarterback on the depth chart, Ryan went with third-stringer Greg McElroy. Tebow now had a bruised ego to go along with the two broken ribs that limited him earlier in the season.

``Every opportunity you get, you want to make the most of,'' Tebow said a few weeks before the season ended, ``and I'd have loved to have more of an opportunity to just play quarterback.''

Acquiring Tebow ultimately helped lead to Tannenbaum and Sparano losing their jobs. And, it clouded Tebow's prospects in the NFL. No matter what, though, he insists he's a quarterback.

Eric Crouch, a fellow former Heisman Trophy winner, knows what he's going through. Crouch was Tebow before Tebow, a tremendous athlete who played quarterback at the University of Nebraska but was told he'd have to switch positions to have a future in the NFL.

``I came out of a running attack at Nebraska where we didn't read a whole lot of passing defenses,'' said Crouch, now a college analyst for Fox Sports. ``So, I was probably a much bigger project than what Tebow is. Sometimes you get labeled a running quarterback, but what you want is to be labeled a dual threat or a passing quarterback who can run.''

Crouch was drafted in the third round in 2002 as a wide receiver by St. Louis, switched to safety and was in camp with Green Bay and Kansas City the next few years before playing in NFL Europe. In 2006, he played three games at quarterback for Toronto of the CFL. Crouch is done with football now after giving it one final shot with his hometown Omaha Nighthawks of the United Football League in 2011.

``Listen, I learned a long time ago that I should've just done what I felt was the right thing to do, which was hold out on people changing me to what they think was best for me,'' Crouch said. ``I was playing quarterback since I was 9 years old. I think the most important thing I would tell Tim is, you've got to listen to yourself on this one.

``There are going to be a lot of people telling Tebow what he should or shouldn't do.''

Like the folks who insist a position switch is the only way Tebow will remain in the NFL - whether that's as a tight end, receiver, halfback, fullback or safety.

``I just don't think he will ever be a quarterback in the NFL,'' Brandt said. ``I think he's really smart, but I don't think he has the mental quickness at the position. The second thing is, he just is not accurate.''

Tebow, reportedly working out in Arizona with a personal trainer, could still land somewhere in the league as a project for an offensive coordinator willing to learn from the Jets' mistakes.

``He's still worth a try and I think somebody will sign him, but it'll be under the condition that it will be as something other than as a quarterback,'' said Brandt, who thinks Tebow will stay on offense. ``If Al Davis were still here, he'd take him in a second and try to turn him into a tight end for the Raiders.''

Or, Tebow could simply swallow his pride, head to Canada and become a huge star there with the CFL's wide-open fields. And then, who knows? Maybe he would come back to the United States - the same route Warren Moon, Doug Flutie and Jeff Garcia took to NFL stardom.

``There's no shame at all in going to the CFL,'' Crouch said. ``They'd take him right now and he'd get a lot of tape, and if he's there two years, he'd have 50 games under his belt reading defenses and coverages. Let the NFL scouts make their decisions then.

``And, hey, he might have so much fun there actually playing, he might not want to ever come back.''

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Bettors everywhere are cursing the Redskins after final play

Bettors everywhere are cursing the Redskins after final play

With the Redskins trying to pull of a last-second miracle while trailing the Eagles 31-27, it seemed likely that the game would end with Washington losing. While it was a hard-fought game with plenty of positives, a loss was still going to be a loss for the team.

But, the loss wasn't going to be a loss for everybody, specifically those who had bet on the Redskins. Washington was favored anywhere from +5.5 to +7 on Sunday, meaning those who took them only needed them to lose by less than that amount to come out correct. When only a few seconds remained and the Redskins trailing by just four, that seemed like a lock, right?

Wrong.

In what may go down as one of the worst bad beats in recent memory, the final play of the game resulted in a strip-sack of Haskins and was returned for a touchdown. In the blink of an eye, it went from 31-27 to 37-27. That score meant nothing to the result on the field, but meant everything for those who took the Redskins.

Just like that, the cover was gone. It was one of those moments that felt like it was happening in slow motion. One of those "scream at your TV trying to make it stop" moments. For anyone who was rooting for the Redskins and maybe bet on them, the final minute of Sunday's game was pure torture.

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Landers Nolley II propels Virginia Tech past Gardner-Webb

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Landers Nolley II propels Virginia Tech past Gardner-Webb

BLACKSBURG, Va. -- Landers Nolley II scored 18 points to lead Virginia Tech to a 73-46 victory over Gardner-Webb on Sunday.

Nolley hit 6 of 14 from the field for the Hokies (8-3), who extended their home nonconference winning streak to 31 games. Nolley, who had just one 3-pointer in the previous two games, snapped out of his slump, connecting on five 3-pointers against the Runnin' Bulldogs.

The Hokies, who never trailed, shot 48% (12 of 25) in the first half in building a 34-24 halftime advantage and then exploded to start the second half. Virginia Tech opened the final 20 minutes with a 16-4 run, pushing a 10-point lead to 50-28 after Nolley's long jumper from the top of the key with 12:09 remaining.

Nolley also hit two 3-pointers in that span, while Gardner-Webb made just 1 of its first 12 shots to start the second half.

Jaheam Cornwall led the Runnin' Bulldogs (3-8) with 14 points. Gardner-Webb shot just 29.1% (16 of 55) in losing its third straight game.

TIP-INS

Gardner-Webb: The Runnin' Bulldogs were picked to finish second in the Big South's preseason poll, but they'll need better play from Jose Perez, a preseason All-Big South first-team choice who was averaging 13.2 points per game. Perez, though, scored just 12 points against the Hokies, making only 4 of 15, and his frustration boiled over midway through the second half when he received a flagrant one foul.

Virginia Tech: Nolley's 3-point barrage sparked a 3-point resurgence for the Hokies, who nailed 13 after hitting just 11 combined in the previous two games. Their 13 3-pointers tied for their third-most in a game this season. With only three players bigger than 6-foot-6 on the roster, the Hokies have to make 3-pointers to enjoy any success.

UP NEXT

Gardner-Webb: The Bulldogs play at home Thursday against Bob Jones.

Virginia Tech: The Hokies play host to VMI on Saturday.

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