Tim Tebow heads to ESPN: 5 former players he should emulate

These pros-turned-on-air-talent got it right

(Image credit: (Rick Wilson/Getty Images))

Further proof that ESPN will spontaneously combust if it goes more than a week without prominently featuring Tim Tebow: The network decided to quit relying on will-he-won't-he storylines and just hire the man himself, beginning with a warm-up on Jan. 6.

ESPN announced Monday that Tebow will appear on SEC Nation — a "pre-game show that will originate from a different SEC campus each week" — beginning on Aug. 28, 2014. Think College GameDay, mixed with Tebow Time, all the time.

And lest we wonder where our favorite Bronco/Jet/Pat/Unemployed Guy has gone off to in the meantime, he'll be contributing to other ESPN programs in the interim.

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The former Heisman Trophy winner can't be as bad at this gig as many pros-turned-analysts (I'm looking at you, Jerry Rice). And he'll benefit from the fact that the SEC, no offense, isn't as big a stage as, say, the NFL.

Still, might we suggest that Tebow use the NFL playoffs to study up on these five former players who made the transition to commentating — and are doing it well:

Dan Fouts

Anytime you're one half of a team known as as "the Bird and the Beard" you can lose cred fast. But Fouts has avoided that trap with CBS play-by-play partner Ian Eagle, delivering dependably solid color commentary while reaching back to anecdotes from his playing days (the Hall-of-Famer played 15 seasons with the San Diego Chargers).

Troy Aikman

Detractors say that Aikman doesn't bring enough of the color that former players are supposed to provide. But you know what? This is our list, so take those complaints to the comments section. Bottom line: We'd rather listen to Aikman reliably deliver X's and O's than Jon Gruden get overly excited and subsequently nonsensical.

Michael Strahan

You love Strahan because he's goofy but lovable on FOX NFL Sunday. Your mom loves Strahan because he's goofy but lovable on Live! with Kelly and Michael. Kelly Ripa loves Strahan because he picked her and Kristin Chenoweth up on national television that one time (skip to the 50-second mark).

Ray Lewis on television as an analyst is pretty similar to Ray Lewis on television as a professional football player. There are incoherent rants. There are weird grandstanding moments, complete with waving AmEx cards. You either loved him or hated him with the Ravens, and that pretty much holds now that he's with ESPN.

Cris Collinsworth

Say what you will about his voice (the better the play, the shriller the call), Collinsworth knows his football. After a college stint at the University of Florida (just like Tebow!), Collinsworth played eight seasons as wide receiver with the Cincinnati Bengals. He now perfectly plays the affable sidekick to Al Michaels' play-by-play guy. The Michaels-and-Madden magic may never be matched, but Collinsworth has proven himself a worthy successor to the color analyst throne, on one of football's biggest stages.

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Sarah Eberspacher

Sarah Eberspacher is an associate editor at TheWeek.com. She has previously worked as a sports reporter at The Livingston County Daily Press & Argus and The Arizona Republic. She graduated from Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism.