By Caleb Hanie
The year was 2011. I was coming off a nice showing in the previous season’s NFC Championship game where I pumped some life into our offense, that had been struggling all day and just fell short of tying the game on the final drive. My rookie contract had ended, and I headed into the year having been tagged with a low-round tender. This kept me from being an unrestricted free agent and meant I was “on rent” for one year with a decent salary while the team delayed having to decide on a longer-term contract.
Cutler had been injured, we had gone 0-2 in my first 2 starts and we were headed to Denver, close to where I had played college ball at Colorado State. I was anxious to get a win under my belt and prove myself so that I could hit the free agent market with some leverage. Tim Tebow was Denver’s QB at the time, and he was coming off a few games where he had led some miraculous comebacks. The term “Getting Tebowed” started to make its way into people’s vernacular. We dominated 98% of that game. In the final 4-5 minutes however, Tebow started running around and making Tebow-like plays. We didn’t help ourselves out by running out of bounds with 1:20 left to stop the clock, leading to a 60ish yard field goal to tie the game and take it to overtime. Nor did we help ourselves by fumbling the ball in field goal range during overtime, leading to another 60+ yard field goal to seal our fate…Tebowed. This lead to an 0-4 record as a starter for the Bears and not the momentum I wanted heading into free agency.
Fast forward to March of 2012 and free agency. Peyton Manninghad just been signed to the Denver Broncos and Tebow had been traded to the Jets. The Broncos flew me in to meet with OC Mike McCoy and QB coach Adam Gase (ironically the Jets HC now). I arrived to the facility and my time in the meetings with Gase seemed like a formality as we were mostly just talking shop and discussing Mike Martz stories. Time was dragging, and Gase left me in the office to go take care of some things. While I was in the office, a report came across the TV, “gliche in the Tebow trade.” Apparently, they had a discrepancy as to who was supposed to pay Tebow a $5 million bonus that he was due. (By the way, how does that happen??) Immediately I thought, “You CANNOT be serious?!” The voice in my head sounded like a young John McEnroe.
Almost on cue, one of the Broncos executives, Keith Kidd walks in and tells me, “We never want to let one of our desired free agents leave without a contract signed, and they didn’t want to send me home at all, but they literally couldn’t sign me until this Tebow situation was resolved. Please don’t take this as a reflection on how we feel about you…etc.” So, I went on my way. The private car took me to the airport and it was official…Tebowed again. Two times in one year!! I felt like one of the freaking SEC teams who had to play Tebow year after year to no avail. Now, I did sign my contract via fax the following afternoon, so don’t feel too sorry for me. It was however with some undesired stress.