Three thousand miles apart two quarterbacks were released on Saturday. One came out of college in 2007 heralded as perhaps a Number One overall pick. The other was expected to be drafted in the third or fourth round in 2010 as a "project." Their names? Brady Quinn and Tim Tebow.
Brady Quinn's stock unexpectedly dropped on draft day. Eventually, as the pundits dissected his game and focused on his disappointed face, Commissioner Roger Goodell ushered Quinn and his girlfriend to a private room away from the prying eyes of the cameras. Eventually he was chosen, of course. As the 22nd pick of the Cleveland Browns.
Draft Day 2010 was a Tour de' force for Tim Tebow. Slotted as a second day pick (if that) he was unexpectedly (and unaccountably) chosen by the Denver Broncos in the first round. Instead of being the 90th or so player selected he was drafted in the 25th spot. New Broncos Head Coach Josh McDaniel liked the winner that Tebow had been at the University of Florida. McDaniel was sure that he could tighten Tebow's long looping delivery and make him a star.
Quinn's career in Cleveland was a disaster. In 12 starts he was three wins against nine losses, and was out of football in 2010. Quinn signed with Denver in 2011 to be Kyle Orton's backup.
Tim Tebow, still learning to throw a decent spiral, was the Broncos #3 signal caller in 2011. Except that isn't how it worked out. When Orton faltered Broncos' fans began to call for a change. But they didn't want Number Two quarterback Brady Quinn. With a distinct alto and soprano voice the crowd bellowed for Tim Tebow. Josh McDaniel, looking for a spark, turned to his young Florida Gator grad.
As if by a smile from Providence the born again Tebow started 11 games...and won seven of them! Tebow-Mania spread from the Rocky Mountains to infect fans of the young man from coast to coast. Who needed to be able to throw? A powerful pair of legs, an indomitable will to win, and a kneel to pray was all it was going to take to turn the Broncos into Super Bowl Champions!
The Broncos rolled into the playoffs. A defensive struggle against Ben Rothlesberger and the Pittsburgh Steelers went into overtime! A blown coverage by the Steelers and the Broncos win the game! Tim Tebow is the biggest rock star since the Beatles played Shea Stadium!
Brady Quinn is the forgotten Bronco. He moves on to Kansas City where he manages just one win against seven losses and a QB rating of 60.1. His star has tumbled at the same rate that Tebow's star has soared.
Tim Tebow, on his way to being more popular than John Elway and Pastor Joel Osteen combined, was derailed when Peyton Manning became available. Tebow was told that his service was appreciated but when a future Hall of Famer decided he looked dandy in orange and blue, well, God Bless and see you later.
In 2012, while Brady Quinn languished at home, Tim Tebow languished on the New York Jets' bench. He threw eight passes for New York. He completed six. Though Tim looked great running in the rain with his shirt off, Rex Ryan had little use for him at the quarterback position. One year in Gotham City and out the door. The polarizing young man was out of work.
Enter Bill Belichick and Pete Carroll. Each coach is known for his willingness to think outside the box. Belichick took a flyer on Tebow, and Carroll signed Quinn to compete with Tarvaris Jackson for the backup job in Seattle. As the exhibition season advanced two things became clear. Tarvaris Jackson was having a great exhibition season...and there was no place in New England for Tim Tebow.
Saturday at noon Eastern the Pats let Tebow go. He tweets that he will continue to pursue his lifelong dream of playing quarterback in the National Football League.
Three hours later the Seahawks let Brady Quinn go. He has nothing to tweet.
And so a door closes on two young men whose fortunes and paths have intersected before. Is this the end of the book, or just a chapter break? Only a seer would hazard a prediction.