Jump ahead to early January 2014. You're watching the AFC title game at Mile High. The Broncos and Patriots are tied at 28 with 90 seconds left.
The Patriots have driven to the Broncos 3-yard-line. It's third and goal, and you let out a howl of fear when a big dude wearing a Patriots road jersey trots out to replace Tom Brady. Yes, Tim Tebow has returned to Colorado to carry the Patriots to the Super Bowl.
If this vision fails to terrify you as a Broncos fan, it just means you don't understand the power of Tebow.
The reigning genius of football, otherwise known as Bill Belichick, revived Tebow's all-but-deceased career. He signed Tebow to a contract Monday evening.
Please don't suggest Belichick does not understand what he's doing. He's been coaching in the NFL for 38 seasons. He's directed the Patriots to five Super Bowls, winning three. He's won 88 games in the past eight regular seasons, including 39 in the last three.
He has a plan for Tebow, and it's a good one.
I believe Tebow will find success with the Patriots. Here's why: Belichick and offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels will expertly limit Tebow's role. Tebow will not be asked to defeat opponents with his wild left arm. He will be asked to run his way into end zones. And he can run into end zones. There's no doubt about that.
Tebow's running ability is up there with any quarterback to ever compete in the NFL. His 40-yard touchdown romp against the Raiders late in the 2010 season revealed a runner blessed with speed, elusiveness, toughness and a ravenous desire for the end zone.
At the conclusion of this touchdown run by God's Quarterback, he showed his slightly sinister side, delivering a vicious straight arm straight to the skull of Raiders defensive back Michael Huff. That run against the Raiders was not a sensational run by a quarterback. It was a sensational run, period, one of the grandest in Broncos history.
Tebow will make the Patriots ultra-powerful offense even more dangerous. The Broncos and Patriots will once again rank as the AFC's most gifted teams, and Tebow's signing shifts the balance of power in favor of Belichick.
This signing is a surprise, but Belichick has been dropping hints for years. In 2010, he expressed admiration for Tebow, saying he believed one of college football's all-time winners at quarterback would play noseguard in the NFL if asked.
"He is obviously special," Belichick said of Tebow.
Tebow should arrive in suburban Boston as a humbled man. Sure, he has reason for pride. He recently sold out a benefit dinner at The Broadmoor, again revealing he's one of our nation's most admired athletes. Women swoon over him. Trust me on that one; I witnessed the swooning at a local Sam's Club, where Tebow signed his autobiography in 2011.
And yet ...
This is the last football stop for an American hero. The Broncos chased him off after signing Peyton Manning, and Jets coach Rex Ryan all but ignored Tebow during the 2012 season before cutting him.
Tebow is nowhere near ready to lead an NFL team as a full-time quarterback. His left arm may prevent him from ever again starting at his favorite position.
But he could lift one of the NFL's premier franchises as a specialty act. In a limited, specific role that plays to his gifts, Tebow will be exceedingly dangerous. He could help carry the Patriots back to the Super Bowl.
And he might run over a few Broncos on the journey.