Earlier this week, the owner of the Russian football team, the Moscow Black Storm, offered Tim Tebow $1 million to appear in two games later this month.
“I talked with him personally and he wanted to go,” owner Mikhail Zaltsman told Russia Beyond The Headlines. “[His agents are] thinking of using him as a motivational speaker. They don't want him to play football.”
And that, we figured, was that.
Nope, at least not according to ITAR-TASS. Here's the headline from a story dated Sept. 18, 2013, 7:49 pm local time: "Tim Tebow may sign contract with Russian football team."
Here we go.
According to the English translation of the story, Dmitry Popkov, the president of the Black Storm, told ITAR-TASS that the team is "not 100 percent sure whether Tim [will] visit Russia. Negotiations are still underway. First we offered him a certain amount, then this amount increased. It will be clear after September 20 whether Tebow will come here. Our owner is in talks with managers and agents of this player. The funds have already been transferred -- the ball is in Tim Tebow's court now."
We have no idea what to make of this, but the Black Storm sound serious about acquiring Tebow and winning the American Football Championship of Russia, which takes place on Sept. 28.
“He's a real sports star, surrounded by a crowd of agents, that's why negotiations were difficult," Popkov explained. "Tebow himself, after finding out that people play American football in Russia, was surprised and wanted to see it for himself, to play with Russian players. And then again, an extra million dollars won't harm him. As far as popularizing American football in Russia, he doesn't really care about it. It's interest.”
There's no way this happens, right? Tebow has reportedly turned down offers from other professional leagues much closer to home and it's not like he'll have trouble finding work in a life outside football.
Except ... if you're into conspiracy theories (or just want something to distract you from your mind-numbing job, if only for a few minutes), there's this headline from an ITAR-TASS story dated Sept. 18, 2013, 2:36 pm local time -- some five hours before the story we linked to above: "Tim Tebow signs contract with Russian football team."
Oddly, the news was buried in the fourth paragraph: "The contract has been signed for just two games. The offered sum is pretty impressive," Popkov said before adding that the current Black Storm players are “pleasantly shocked. Even our adversaries are thrilled about Tebow visiting Russia. Everyone expects these two games to be very festive.”
Popkov had us going right up till the moment he referred to Tebow as the Michael Jordan of American Football. We can only assume something was lost in translation.
As for whether Tebow will actually play in Russia, we'll definitely know by Sept. 28, the day of the championship game.