ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. – It has come to this for poor Tim Tebow.
The most celebrated, written-about benchwarmer in NFL history had hoped to befuddle NFL defences this season as a feared, second-offence wildcat specialist with the New York Jets.
Instead, he barely played at all. And had almost no impact.
Tebow’s hollow 2012 season could not have ended more inconsequentially on Sunday, when he saw the field for one play – on which he merely handed off for a two-yard gain out of the wildcat – in the second quarter of a 28-9 loss to the Buffalo Bills.
That’s quite the come-down from his out-of-the-blue playoff run 12 months ago in Denver, when he led the Broncos into the second round of the playoffs and became a pop-culture superstar.
Tebow is still Tebow, though. And he knows it.
And he milks it for what it is as best he can.
Thus, while trudging toward the Jets team bus about an hour after Sunday’s loss, he noticed about three dozen fans atop a hill outside Ralph Wilson Stadium.
Tebow climbed the 50 or so steps and allowed himself to be swarmed. He posed for smart-phone pictures, accepted pats on the back and signed some autographs. (That’s my photo, above.)
That, right there, has become his only usefulness as an NFL quarterback.
From over-achieving left-hander to over-pleasing glad-hander.
Minutes earlier, in an overcrowded Jets locker room, Tebow gamely tried to mask his disappointment while offering some desultory words to the press.
“Well, this year has had its ups and downs,” Tebow said. “Obviously you wouldn’t have liked to end on this note.”
How was the season personally for him? he was asked.
“I think you have to take a few days to take it all in and look at the season …”
Does he expect to return to the Jets next year, what with all the speculation that his hometown Jacksonville Jaguars are anxious to acquire him?
“I’m not sure. Like I said, I’ll take a few days to just let everything sink in from the season and see from there.”
Did this season set his career back?
After all, he could always become a celebrity greeter in Vegas.