NEW YORK -- 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 this will unfold. A backup role on another NFL team? A position change? The CFL?
"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 co-ordinator 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."
So, that's two NFL teams down -- the only ones, at that, who showed any interest last off-season when Denver shopped him -- and the 25-year-old Tebow's options appear to be dwindling.
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 a fourth-round draft pick. But once Tebow got on the field, something went woefully wrong.
Tebow went from being considered a key part of Rex Ryan's offence to almost non-existent. Offensive co-ordinator 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.
Eric Crouch, a fellow former Heisman Trophy winner, knows what he's going through. Crouch, now retired, 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.
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.
"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."
Tebow, reportedly working out in Arizona with a personal trainer, could still land somewhere in the league as a project for an offensive co-ordinator willing to learn from the Jets' mistakes.
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?
"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 defences 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."
-- The Associated Press