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It might be dead in Denver, but Tebow Time will tick on

On any number of the hundreds -- no, thousands -- of occasions when Tim Tebow has signed a photo or a football or left a message on Facebook or Twitter, he has often also tagged it with his 18-month-old trademark.


It stands for God Bless and Go Broncos, a deliberate combination of one-part Holy Spirit and one-part Team Spirit. And just like that, so suddenly and surely, each one of those signatures has now reached the brink of becoming nothing more than nostalgia. Are you surprised? Should you be?

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We'll need a moment to digest this Peyton Manning news, enough time to blink our eyes and clear our minds to absorb the sleight-of-hand magic trick John Elway just played on the collective NFL world. But when we realize what occurred, will it shock us?

No, it won't. It won't because all along, no matter the words or the explanations, we were never convinced Elway believed Tebow was the answer. Like any good magician, Elway disguised his act -- even if we always knew it was a mirage.

But let's be honest for a moment: Was it ever any different with Tebow? Were the Broncos really part of Tebow's "brand?" Would it really impact his marketability if you plucked the quarterback out of Denver and dropped him into, say, Kansas City?

Tebow is a fine teammate, don't get me wrong. But he is not driven by his loyalty to the Broncos, even if he'll never admit as much. He is instead driven by the potential of his platform, by his ability to brand himself in a manner that allows him to reach as large an audience as possible.

He plays for the Broncos, yes, but you can't convince me he doesn't play for others first. He plays for a platform. For God. He plays for his family. For his avid fan base that, I'd argue, would cheer for him if he didn't even wear the logo of any team on his helmet. He plays for his teammates, too.

But the camaraderie that existed in Denver throughout this past season didn't exist because everyone banded together with a plan to conquer the world. It existed because Elway and John Fox wisely came together to say, "How can we make this work?" It existed because Tebow then took that plan and made his own magic with it.

Everyone did their thing -- and somehow, some way, unexpected success ensued.

Throughout Tebow's magical 2011 season, I often repeated the same few phrases: Enjoy the ride. ... Don't over-think it. ... Don't become too attached to it. ... Just enjoy the ride.

This was never a relationship built for longevity. And now, we can accept such as truth. We can accept it and move forward, allowing the Broncos to build their franchise the way Elway and Fox would prefer -- around a quarterback cut from the same cloth as both of them.

Tebow, too, can move in a different direction. It might not seem like the perfect fit from the beginning, but let us not forget that it wasn't a perfect fit in Denver, either. Aided by fan pressure, Tebow forced himself into the starting position, and he endured by seizing the opportunity like we've never seen before.

In training camp last year, no one within the Broncos organization would have ever predicted Tebow would take this team to the playoffs. Kyle Orton was better. Brady Quinn was better, too.

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And yet, Tebow did what Tebow does.

In the coming days, it remains a strong possibility that Tebow will find a new home in a place where he will once again divide a fan base. He will once again captivate the country with his controversial approach to the quarterback position.

But if he succeeds again, if he finds a way to defy the odds in a place that probably acquires him for little other reason than to sell more tickets, will you be surprised? Should you be?

No, you shouldn't. Because while Elway might seem like the league's great magician today, don't forget who was the greatest magician of the 2011 season. And something tells me, even if it might be done in Denver, this crazy trick is far from finished in the NFL.

Follow Jeff Darlington on Twitter @jeffdarlington

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