2012 Was Not Tim Tebow’s Year

Could’ve gone better. All of it.

1. BuzzFeed Sports Presents: The Year In Tebow

Wade Payne / AP

Arguably the greatest college football player of all time, Tim Tebow’s NFL career had a rough start that finally seemed to smooth out in 2011 as he made it to the second round of the playoffs with the Broncos. So, how did 2012 go? Spoiler alert: not well.

3. Chapter 1: Miracle 2011 Season Ends With Large, Non-Miraculous Loss

Elise Amendola, file / AP

Based on the way it started off, 2012 really seemed like it could be the Year Of Magical Tebowing. After taking over as the Denver Broncos’ starting quarterback in Week 6 and leading them to a 7-4 record over the rest of the season, Timmy Tremendous pulled off a terrific and to this day inexplicable upset victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers in the wild-card round of the playoffs. But afterward, in the divisional round, the Broncos came up against the NFL’s premiere eviscerator of dreams: Bill Belichick’s New England Patriots. Tebow got throttled, dismantled, and otherwise destroyed by the Pats, completing only 9 passes out of 26 en route to a 45-10 loss. A terrible loss, but Tebow had seemingly established himself as the starter on a playoff-caliber team, so the future looked bright, right? Turns out the light at the end of the tunnel was just a train filled with garbage. A garbage nightmare train.

4. Chapter 2: Tebow Comes To The Big City

In March, Denver signed Peyton Manning to become their starting QB. Manning was about to turn 36 years old and had just sat out an entire season with career-threatening spinal problems. Tebow was 24 and in Spartan physical shape. It says something about the esteem in which the NFL held Tebow’s 2011 season that the Broncos’ decision was widely considered a smart one.

With Manning in town, there wasn’t a whole lot of reason to hold on to Tebow, and so with little fanfare (ha) and next to no media attention (double ha), he was traded to the New York Jets.

That press conference can be seen above. In it, Tebow says the word “excited” 44 times.

5. Chapter 3: Tebow Somehow Raises His Media Profile Even Further, As If Setting Himself Up For Some Sort Of Comeuppance

Kevin Winter / Getty Images

A respite from football might make you expect a respite from Tebow. Nope. A website placed a bounty on his virginity. He preached multiple times to many tens of thousands of people. He went to the Met Gala. He presented at the ESPYs, where he talked about giving advice to Jeremy Lin. Lo, doth not the scriptures tell us that PR overexposure cometh before the fall? Isn’t that what bit the Assyrians in the ass?

6. Chapter 4: A Preseason Of Pain

Jeff Zelevansky / Getty Images

As the season got close to starting, Tebow played in three of the Jets’ four meaningless preseason games, and his performance was what you might call “underwhelming.” You might also call it pathetic, but I’m trying to be charitable — it isn’t allllllll Tebow’s fault that the Jets went 0-4. But, in those games, through the air, Tebow completed a remarkable 13 of his 36 passes — that’s a 36% completion rating, which is somehow even worse than his league-bottom 2011 number. He did not win the starting job from Mark Sanchez, and his failure to accomplish this marked an enormous blow to his seeming infallibility — the man who always, somehow, just managed to make it work out had finally failed to do so, for the first time in his career.

7. Chapter 5: A Regular Season Of Pain

So, it’s the 2012 NFL regular season! What’s that Tebow fellow going to do this time? The answer very quickly became obvious — absolutely nothing. Tebow carried the ball only nine times in the four games during September. He threw the ball once. It was a complete pass, but the receiver immediately fumbled. He got hit in the head by a Sanchez pass, pictured above. Even though Sanchez’s failures as a starter were prominent and frequent, when stirrings began stirring among writers, fans, and other stirring enthusiasts about promoting Tebow to first string, it very quickly became obvious that Rex Ryan would rather coat himself in a film of burning oil than make that move.

Meanwhile, Vogue photographed Tebow wearing a suit but no shirt.

8. Chapter 6: It Can’t Get Any Worse Than This

Elsa / Getty Images

As the season continued, Tebow kept playing sparingly and poorly, covering a grand total of 40 yards over the course of four October games. Now, this wasn’t all Tebow’s fault: Rex Ryan and Jets offensive coordinator Tony Sparano showed zero ingenuity in how they used him, putting him on the field only occasionally, always in the same formation, at which point he would take the snap and charge straight into the offensive line. Opposing defenses knew exactly what to expect from a Tebow possession, because the Jets never tried anything different; when a guy throws once a month, and he never hands the ball off, you don’t really have to wonder too much about what to do: you go to the spot where he’s going to be, wait until he gets there, and then tackle him.

9. Chapter 7: Good God It Somehow Got So Much Worse

As the season spiraled away, Tebow could at least take solace in the continued support of his teammates, his brothers in arms, the guys in the trenches with him. Just kidding: his teammates anonymously told reporters that he was “terrible.” (In Tebow’s defense, this pretty much happens to at least one New York Jet every year.) Then he broke a couple ribs and had a game in which he ran for a -5 yards. In the Jets’ first game of December, after Mark Sanchez threw a miserable three interceptions, Rex Ryan replaced Sanchez with…third-string quarterback Greg McElroy, not Tebow. McElroy won the game. Meanwhile, Tebow broke up with his girlfriend, and, when he got an entire series against the Tennessee Titans — the biggest sustained chance of his season so far, in a game that’s crucial for the Jets’ playoff chances — he completely bombed. The Jets lost the game, ending their shot at making the postseason, and Sanchez was benched in place of — you guessed it — Greg McElroy. Tebow finally admitted that he wasn’t happy, even though he almost certainly hadn’t been happy for the previous 8 months. Rumors flew about Tebow going to play in the Canadian Football League, which is sad for a number of reasons. (Reminder: this guy won a playoff game less than a year ago.) Yeesh. But there’s some hope for the future…

10. Chapter 8: How Bad Was All Of This For Tim Tebow? The Prospect Of Getting Moving To Jacksonville, Florida Is Seen As A Positive Development For Him

This is true; the Jaguars are apparently dead-set on acquiring him. And sorry about that headline, Jacksonville — just messin’ with you. We sincerely hope Tebow puts it back together next year, because the world is better when it’s full of unlikely, 2011-Tebow success than when it’s full of depressing, 2012-Tebow failure. Here’s to Tim Tebow’s 2013!

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