The possibilities appeared endless for Tim Tebow.
Here he was, perhaps the most popular player in the NFL, in New York as a member of the Jets and maybe the biggest thing to hit Broadway since Joe Namath himself.
There were billboards outside the Lincoln Tunnel in New Jersey welcoming Tebow, and sandwiches named after him at Manhattan delis. He also had a legion of fans who followed him because of his strong Christian beliefs, and in New York, he would be able to take advantage of countless media and marketing opportunities.
And then, it all went terribly wrong. Or, more like it, the whole idea was completely flawed from the start.
For Tebow. And for the Jets. Tebow was waived Monday morning, the end of an embarrassingly unsuccessful one-season experiment in New York that produced more hype and headlines than production on the field. And it all ended quietly, with a three-paragraph news release.
‘‘Unfortunately,’’ coach Rex Ryan said in a statement, ‘‘things did not work out the way we all had hoped.’’
It also left Tebow’s football future very much in doubt.
A year after he threw a TD pass to win a playoff game in overtime for Denver, the Heisman Trophy winner with two college national titles at Florida and a nationwide following may have suited up for the last time.
No NFL team has made a pitch to get him. The only nibble so far came from the Montreal Alouettes. They hold his rights in the Canadian Football League and said he can come compete for a job — as a backup.
This is the same guy who led the Broncos to the postseason in 2011, but became expendable when Denver signed Peyton Manning as a free agent. The popular backup quarterback was acquired by the Jets in March 2012 for a fourth-round draft pick and $1.5 million in salary. He was introduced at the Jets’ facility to plenty of fanfare at a lavish news conference, with Tebow repeatedly saying he was ‘‘excited’’ to be in New York.
It turned out to be one of the few high points in Tebow’s stay with the Jets. Along with his shirtless jog from the practice field in the rain during training camp, of course.
The Jets never figured out a way to use Tebow effectively, and he never forced the issue by being a good enough player in practice to make Ryan and his coaches put him on the field more in games.
‘‘If he were to happen to call me, I would say, ‘Look, you’re starting over,’’’ former NFL GM Ted Sundquist said. ‘‘Tim Tebow needs to redefine who Tim Tebow is, in my opinion. He’s no longer a first-round quarterback. ‘‘
Even recently retired Jets special teams coordinator Mike Westhoff labeled the way the team used Tebow an ‘‘absolute mess.’’
It all cost Tebow his job, along with former general manager Mike Tannenbaum and former offensive coordinator Tony Sparano — both fired in part because of their roles in what was one of the NFL’s messiest quarterback situations in recent memory. It also seriously clouds Tebow’s NFL future, which might be extended only, in some people’s opinion, if he considers a position change.
The Bills aren’t finished tinkering with their linebackers this offseason.
Buffalo traded Kelvin Sheppard to the Colts for Jerry Hughes in a swap of linebackers two days after the NFL draft.
Sheppard, a 2011 second-round pick from LSU, has been inconsistent in two seasons in Buffalo. He had 138 tackles and two sacks in 31 games, including 24 starts.
Hughes was the Colts’ 2010 first-round draft pick from TCU. He’s had 62 tackles and five sacks in 40 games, including seven starts, but had difficulty finding his niche on the Colts defense.
Used initially as a defensive end in a 4-3 scheme, Hughes made the switch to linebacker when the Colts switched to coach Chuck Pagano’s 3-4 defense where he appeared to be more at home but still not the impact player envisioned when they expected him to eventually replace Dwight Freeney. Freeney, Indy’s career sacks leader, was let go in free agency this winter and has yet to hook on with a new team.
Vikings ink two
The Vikings signed a pair of veteran free agents, cornerback Jacob Lacey and defensive end Lawrence Jackson. Both were with the Lions last season. The team also waived punter T.J. Conley . . . The Packers released guard Joe Gibbs, who was on the practice squad for the final six regular-season games and both playoff games last season . . . Charlie Batch and Derrick Dockery are among 23 current and former NFL players who will take part in a sports journalism symposium next month at Bowling Green University. The program will focus on improving each player’s writing skills for print, broadcast, and digital media.