PHILADELPHIA (AP) – Tebowmania swept through Philly before Tim Tebow‘s return to the NFL even became official.
By the time the Philadelphia Eagles announced late Monday afternoon that Tebow signed a one-year contract, the city was buzzing about Chip Kelly’s latest move. Tebow dominated newspaper headlines, social media conversation and sports talk radio. A pretzel factory even made “Tebowing” shaped pretzels.
Some fans applauded the move, while others claimed Kelly lost his mind. Talk show hosts debated the signing and questioned everything about Tebow from his passing skills to his faith and intelligence.
“Chip doesn’t care what the outside world is going to say about it,” former Eagles All-Pro safety Brian Dawkins, who played with Tebow in Denver, said on a local radio station. “He’s going to come to the facility and work his behind off. He’s gonna push you and push himself to get better.”
Neither Kelly nor Tebow was available for comment. A team spokesman said that won’t happen until the Eagles hold organized team activities next month.
Tebow will wear No. 11. His jersey already was listed for sale on the team’s website.
Tebow gets his first shot in the NFL since the New England Patriots cut him before the 2013 season. The 2007 Heisman Trophy winner hasn’t played since 2012 with the New York Jets. He worked as a television analyst last year with the SEC Network and ESPN.
“Tim developed quickly into an excellent analyst. He has a home at ESPN when his playing career is done,” said John Wildhack, ESPN executive vice president, programming and production.
The 27-year-old quarterback is still highly popular after leading Florida to two national titles and spending two seasons with the Denver Broncos. Many fans follow Tebow because of his strong Christian beliefs.
The Eagles already have four other quarterbacks on their roster: Sam Bradford, Mark Sanchez, Matt Barkley andG.J. Kinne. Tebow is expected to compete for the No. 3 spot in an offense that’s suited to his strengths. Kelly, known for innovative schemes, certainly will try to find other ways to use him, too.
Tebow could be worked into the offense for zone-read plays, short-yardage and goal-line situations and conversions. If the NFL changes extra-point rules, Tebow could become a specialist.
Tebow had some success in Denver, including a playoff win over Pittsburgh in January 2012, but struggled with accuracy. He was known for running the ball and improvising.
He worked with former major league pitcher Tom House on improving his mechanics. Kelly must’ve seen improvement when the Eagles worked him out last month.
Kelly has had one of the busiest offseasons in the NFL, bringing in Tebow, Bradford and running back DeMarco Murray, while trading away Nick Foles, LeSean McCoy and allowing Jeremy Maclin to leave in free agency.
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