Tim Tebow is 26, which is still young, even by professional athlete standards. Despite having won a playoff game as a starting quarterback just two years ago, he is an NFL washout. A born football player, obviously. A leader, they say. A big, strong, fast athlete with every skill except the one he needs. A real-life Wizard of Oz character — the quarterback without a passing arm.
But one of Tebow’s defining characteristics is that he does not give up. Though he now works for ESPN, he spends the rest of his time in California, working with quarterback gurus, trying to correct that wonky release. In his mind he is only killing time until he returns to pro football as a quarterback once again.
In case you couldn’t tell, that’s a new thing, and it’s only sort of football. It is football in the sense that the players wear helmets and shoulder pads, and get first downs and score touchdowns and kick field goals and all that. But it is not football in the sense that its namesake strategy is illegal in conventional football leagues.
The A-11 league derives its name from the A-11 offense, which exploits a loophole in formation rules so that any of the 11 players might (or might not) be eligible receivers on a given play.
It was the work of mad scientists/high school football coaches Kurt Bryan and Steve Humphries in California, who used it for two years before the National Federation of State High School Associations had seen enough of that nonsense and closed the loophole in 2009.
The A-11 league is so new it hasn’t yet announced the locations of its franchises, so it appears Tebow is the cart the league would like to put before the horse.
According to the San Francisco Examiner, the league has talked with Tebow’s representatives, and Humphries, who founded the league, has a personal affinity for Tebow.
"He is perfectly built for this football league," Humphries said. "He’s my favorite football player and always has been."
There is no evidence at this point that Tebow is interested, and this wouldn’t be the first time he has rebuffed the advances of a sub-NFL football league. Last year he turned down an offer to play in the well-established AFL.
If Tebow’s deficiencies as a quarterback are as purely mechanical as they appear to be, it is not out of the realm of possibility that, at his age, he could correct them and return to the NFL as a new player.
But as the offers originate from further and further down the pro football food chain, it’s fair to wonder if Tebow already lived his dream, and now it’s time to wake up.