Lefko: Tebow would be wise to go to AFL

Leave it to Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley to figure out how to play the Tim Tebow card.

Simmons and Paul Stanley are the front men for the rock group KISS and they understand the importance of branding. Beyond just their ability as musicians, Simmons and Stanley know how to package and merchandise a product and sustain it through repurposing across various platforms. You don’t last 40 years in the vicious game of rock and roll without knowing there is more to it than just playing music.

The KISS logo has been plastered on everything imaginable, including condoms, which has resulted in Simmons and Stanley netting hundreds of millions of dollars in income. They are putting some of that money into use as part of the ownership group of the Arena Football League’s Los Angeles KISS, which debuts in 2014 but is already creating hype because of a three-year, multi-million dollar offer extended to Tebow. It has already generated tons of publicity.

Tebow would be an absolute fool to pass up this opportunity. He could play quarterback, which doesn’t seem to be an option in the National Football League. He has had limited stints on the rosters of the Denver Broncos and New York Jets and had a recent tryout with the New England Patriots but was cut before the start of the season. The Canadian Football League is an option, but neither Tebow nor his agent has expressed any desire at this point to come north.

There is the belief that the Arena Football League’s field size would be more conducive to Tebow’s talents and lessen his limitations (i.e. arm strength). The field is about 66 yards long (including the end zones), compared to 120 in the NFL and 150 in the CFL. The width is about 28 yards compared to 65 yards in the CFL and 53½ in the NFL. Only eight players line up on both sides of the ball and there are limited rules about blitzing.

Kurt Warner advanced his career by playing in the Arena Football League and went on to become an effective starter in the NFL, which had been lukewarm to his talents after graduating from the University of Northern Iowa. Warner has been referenced by the KISS ownership as an example of what Tebow could do playing indoors in an arena. Beyond just offering a contract to Tebow the KISS ownership has been effusive in its praise, something which was in short supply in his time in New York, at least when head coach Rex Ryan was talking.

Tebow can sit around for an NFL team willing to sign him, but the Arena Football League offer will give him the opportunity to play without all the politics and criticisms he is currently facing. It seems like a perfect fit.

There is also another element to all of this: Pro football is absent in Los Angeles, so the Arena Football League will fill that void, although it’s already tried and failed once before under a different ownership group. Simmons and Stanley will do whatever it takes to create a buzz and fill the Honda Centre in Anaheim simply because that’s what they do best. The novelty of the product and the added values of, say a KISS concert before or after games and the presence of Simmons, Stanley and their galaxy of stars in the entertainment business should be worth the cost of admission alone. To be sure, this will be a hot ticket in the beginning. How long that lasts will be dependent on the success of the team and the ability of the ownership to keep the crowd engaged.

Tebow could be to this team what Wayne Gretzky became to the Los Angeles Kings. The addition of the greatest player in the game at that point created a totally different dimension to hockey in Los Angeles, which had been struggling to attract crowds but suddenly became must-see entertainment.

This is why Tebow is the right person at the right time for this expansion franchise in that market. Look what Donald Trump did when he signed Heisman Trophy winner Doug Flutie of Boston College to play for the New Jersey Generals of the United States Football League in 1985. The NFL wanted no part of Flutie because of his diminutive size, but Trump understood the excitement of signing the player famous for his Hail Mary pass. This was a Hail Mary signing and it wasn’t ridiculous for a franchise seeking some marquee talent.

Tinseltown could be Tebowtown – if he wants it. To borrow a KISS song, he should lick it up.

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