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Pierce: Can Tim Tebow be the next Steve Young?

Published January 7, 2014 2:39 pm

ESPN • Young found success as broadcaster and pro quarterback.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2014, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Suppose a hugely successful college quarterback's pro career looks sort of dead in the water. Can he recapture lost glory in the broadcast booth?

Worked for Steve Young. Maybe it can work for Tim Tebow, too.

The failed NFL quarterback has joined ESPN. Tebow will be an analyst on the ESPN-owned SEC Network, which launches in August, and appear on other ESPN channels.

He insists he's still hoping to land a job quarterbacking an NFL team. He's going to "continue to train to be the best quarterback that I can be" and he thinks he's "the best that I've ever been as a quarterback right now. I hope I get the opportunity to show that."

He might be the only one who believes there's still a chance he might play in the NFL, but he believes.

It's true that Young went from TV analyst to Super Bowl MVP, NFL MVP and the Pro Football Hall of Fame, but it was a circuitous route. He signed with the now-defunct Los Angeles Express of the now-defunct USFL out of BYU in 1984, and that spring/summer league was done before the college season began.

So Young was in the KBYU broadcast booth doing analysis that fall. And he was pretty good at it, which he proved when he joined ESPN after his playing career ended.

Can Tebow make a success out of a broadcasting career? Other quarterbacks — from Terry Bradshaw to Troy Aikman — have done it. Heck, former Colorado State QB Kelly Stouffer has carved out a career for himself on TV.

But it's not an automatic. And ESPN clearly hired Tebow because of his name, not because his skills.

Asked what TV training he's had, Tebow's answer should have frightened his new bosses.

"I've had great opportunities to be around a lot of [sportscasters], whether I was in college and they were interviewing me or I was hanging out with them or I was on the 'Gameday' set or just being around different guys and becoming friends with certain guys and girls that do it and that do it very well," he rambled.

Wow. ESPN hired a guy who formed that sentence to talk on TV.

"I think I tried to learn a little bit from everyone and tried to take what they do well and try to learn from it," Tebow said, "and I'll continue to try to learn every single day to be the best I can, just like I would in the game of football."

Except that he actually practiced and played football.

The idea that sportscasting is something you can become good at by hanging around sportscasters demonstrates that Tebow doesn't have much respect for his new profession. Is he hanging around good QBs hoping to become one by osmosis?

ESPN knows it is running a bit of a risk. It apparently has already told Tebow to keep his talking points football related and leave religion out of it.

"We acknowledge and understand that Tim's faith is a big part of who he is," said Justin Connolly, the SEC Network's senior vice president of programming. "It's part of what makes him special, and we certainly respect that.

"At the same time, we hired him for his football opinions and his analysis of football and his experience and his view and knowledge of the SEC. ... That's what our audience expects from him."

They also might be expecting coherent sentences, but we'll have to wait and see how good Tebow will be at that.

Scott D. Pierce covers television for The Salt Lake Tribune. Email him at spierce@sltrib.com; follow him on Twitter @ScottDPierce.






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