They marched one by one through the second floor of the Denver Broncos' training facility, each quarterback stopping first in offensive coordinator Mike McCoy's office to hear the same message that would then be echoed like a corporate line from coach John Fox.
Can't you just hear it now? New York Jets coach Rex Ryan, leaning back in a swivel chair, hands folded on his belly, muttering these same sentences to Mark Sanchez and Greg McElroy on the other side of his desk: "Stay ready, fellas. We're not sure how long this will last."
That's generally the way this deal works with Tim Tebow. After all, did anyone in Denver really believe, on Oct. 11, 2011, when Tebow was formally named the Broncos' new starting quarterback, that he was the answer?
Find one person with the Broncos who will publicly claim they thought as much, and you've found yourself a man with a growing nose and fingers crossed behind his back. Yet it happened anyway. And it's about to happen again.
Normally, this much wouldn't even need to be stated, since this sequence of events has been so blatantly obvious for months. But since the Jets and their fans exist in a city that fails to believe anything happens before it happens in New York, here we all are, rehashing a prediction not nearly as bold or brash as Joe Namath's Super Bowl guarantee.
So let's try this again, New York. Let's try to explain to you what everyone in the NFL -- particularly those watching from Denver -- has understood all along: This is not a normal situation with a normal backup quarterback that can be rationalized with a normal set of expectations. As such, maybe it's time for a few small tips.
First of all, stop with the statistics. Quit trying to compare Tebow to Sanchez. Stop mentioning how Tebow has been ineffective in the Wildcat; that he's played 32 snaps on offense -- 15 at quarterback -- without making an impact. It. Does. Not. Matter. None of it. Not one single statistic.
Remember in August when everyone in New York, a place that prides itself on recognizing trends before anyone else, finally got the memo that Tim Tebow isn't a good practice player? As predicted, nobody is talking about that anymore, are they? And nobody will be talking about Tebow's ineffectiveness during minimal game action if/when Sanchez struggles against the Houston Texans on Monday Night Football.
Rule No. 1 of Tebow Time: Logic need not apply.
Oh, the Jets surely will try to argue that these issues go far deeper than Tebow -- that this team's greatest flaws stem from deeper soil than the quarterback spot. Try using that excuse when explaining to the Broncos why New York's situation is different. Just be prepared when the Broncos respond by reminding you about the week before Orton was benched, when Denver's defense gave up 507 total yards to the Packers. Then, prepare for laughter and head shakes.
Apples aren't oranges, and oranges aren't apples, but history is still the greatest indicator of the future. The Broncos' history already has told us plenty about what's about to happen in the Jets' not-too-distant future.
The truth is, unless Sanchez responds unexpectedly well for the rest of the season, providing the Jets with ample to keep Tebow on the bench, this situation will eventually reach its climax. Just as it did with very rational-thinking men in Denver.
If the only roadblock that's really keeping the Jets from vaulting Tebow to the starting spot is the public expectation that they'll do it, then prepare for the Jets to lose yet again. Eventually, the mob will grow louder. Eventually, they will cling to anything that will provide new hope -- and nobody provides new hope like Tebow.
Eventually, when he reluctantly realizes his hands are tied, Ryan will pronounce, "You want Tebow? Fine. You got him." And then he'll march Sanchez and McElroy into his office and he'll sit them down and he'll say those two magic sentences: "Stay ready. We're not sure how long this is going to last."
Oh, we all saw this coming, all of us who followed every step of Tebow's ascent in Denver one year ago. But that is where the predictability of this scenario will come to its close. That's when, as everyone in Denver will tell you, nobody can guarantee what happens next.
At that point, you can forget expectations. You can forget everything you thought you ever knew about football in general. Just sit back. Relax. And enjoy the most unpredictable show in sports.
Follow Jeff Darlington on Twitter @jeffdarlington.