If Loving Tim Tebow Is Wrong …
It is true that Tim Tebow’s throwing motion does not resemble that of Johnny Unitas. He has horrible footwork, takes too much time to load up before throwing, and man, he is shaky on the run. Tebow is inaccurate often and seems to have trouble making the kinds of quick decisions necessary to be successful consistently. Unless he changes considerably, he won’t ever be an elite passer. And if he keeps running the ball as much as he does, someone’s going to crack his skull.
Guess what? I don’t give a damn.
In a league that strives for homogeneity, Tebow is like a guitar solo at high Mass. He’s doesn’t fit any pre-fabricated model for an NFL quarterback, and that’s just fine. What would you rather watch, a surgical dismantling of an opposing secondary or a wild, how-did-that-happen comeback, complete with enough plot twists to fill an entire season of CSI? Give me the unpredictable any day. Tebow and the Broncos are in the midst of one of the greatest reality shows in sports history. Every week, they find themselves in a dire predicament, and somehow, they prevail. If that isn’t enough to draw your interest, then you should be sentenced to a lifetime of Andy Reid press conferences.
The latest remarkable escape came Sunday against the Bears. Yes, Chicago did everything it could to blow a 10-0 lead, and if Marion Barber had one drop of common sense, the Bears would have prevailed. But they didn’t. And Tebow took advantage of Chicago’s mistakes to salvage a 13-10 overtime win. That’s Denver’s third OT triumph of the season. In eight starts this year, Tebow has authored five fourth-quarter comebacks and is 7-1. He has six comeback wins in his 11 career starts, the most in league history for someone with that much experience. It doesn’t matter whether the wins have come against the Packers, Niners, Steelers and Ravens, or the Dolphins, Vikings, Chargers and Chiefs. The Broncos have won. And Tebow has led the way every time. For the record, he has also keyed triumphs against the Jets, who would be in the playoffs if the season ended today, and the Bears, who are on the outskirts of the post-season right now.
The wins are great, but Tebow’s methods are what set him apart. Sunday, he completed a mere 3-of-16 passes through the first three quarters. His halftime quarterback rating was 9.5, which is probably lower than what an offensive tackle could manage were he asked to play the position. From that point on, Tebow was transcendent, completing 18-of-24 (75%) throws and amassing 191 of his 236 passing yards. When the money hits the table, Tebow becomes a stone-faced killer.
Of course, that description doesn’t fit Tebow’s praise-the-Lord personality, and frankly, his overt Christianity is tough to digest at times. It’s easy to wretch when a football player decides to “talk to the man upstairs,” as Tebow told NBC’s Alex Flanagan he did before Matt Prater drilled a 51-yard field goal to clinch the 13-10 win. I get all that. Worse, he played college ball under smug, arrogant Urban Meyer at Florida and quotes his former mentor liberally. That’s enough to make any fan outside of Gainesville or that horrible place in Ohio (Meyer’s current lair) hate the guy. Furthermore, Tebow is unfailingly optimistic, never fails to credit the Big Coach for his success and must be a bit of a downer in the typically ribald NFL locker room.
But given some of the miscreants who have hogged the headlines in the league over the past few years for their reprehensible on and off-field behavior, it’s not the worst thing in the world to have a hero who is unlikely to pack heat in a club, make it rain or beat up his girlfriend/wife. Tebow isn’t perfect, but he hasn’t tried to buy “shots for all [his] bitches,” either. The proselytizing is annoying, but the sheer excitement of Tebow’s play overshadows the thump-thump-thump of the Bible.
The Broncos aren’t going to win the Super Bowl this year. There’s no guarantee they’ll even make the playoffs. Big deal. Have fans and media become so Machiavellian in their consumption of sports that they cannot appreciate a rare performer and live with him in the moment? Ten years from now, Tebow may be a footnote in the 2011 season and the answer to a trivia question, rather than an established, veteran starter. That’s why it’s important to savor him and his accomplishments now.
Denver could well fall flat next week when New England comes to town, but tell me you won’t be checking in on the score while the Eagles try to avoid ending their season against the Jets. The Packers’ chase of perfection is a pretty compelling storyline, but Tebow is at least second on the list and just might become 1A should he find a way to lead the Broncos past the Pats.
Tebow is exciting, unpredictable and dramatic. In other words, he’s just what the NFL needs. Maybe you don’t like him because he is such a hero to young fans around the country. During Saint Joseph’s win over Boston University Wednesday night, a student hit a halfcourt shot to win free books for a semester, and he ran to the midcourt circle and “Tebowed” in celebration by taking a knee, and bowing his head. The guy is a certified cultural phenomenon. Enjoy him right now, rather than worrying about what he’ll be in a week, a month or a year. Try to remember what drew you to sports in the first place: the thrill of the competition. And nobody competes like Tebow. He cares not about stats and ratings, just how the ledger reads at the end of the day. And he plays on a non-threatening team; it’s not like he’s a Cowboy or Giant, so you’re not being unfaithful to the Birds.
So, lighten up a little bit and enjoy the show. The NFL hasn’t seen anything like Tebow for a while, and let’s hope he doesn’t go away too quickly.
Given the way things are going for pro football in this town, an exciting diversion is just what we need.
- Time to come home, J-Roll. Now that the Brewers have lost interest in the Phillies’ shortstop, and St. Louis re-upped Rafael Furcal, Rollins has no other options. The right price is three years (with a club option) and about $10-12 million per. That seems fair for a 33-year-old who has been slowed by injuries each of the last two seasons and is worlds away from his 2007 MVP production. It’s inevitable, so get it done. Soon.
- If the Eagles win their final four games and finish 8-8, fans should be furious that it took so long for them to get it together. The 2011 season won’t be remembered for a big finish, rather the mess that preceded it. There’s no guarantee the Birds can end the year 4-0, but if they do, remember the previous 12 weeks of disappointment and avoid the just-wait-‘til-next-year crowd. Oh, and get ready for another season of Andy. Not that he’s going anywhere if they lose the next three, either.
- Temple’s big win over Villanova Saturday was a huge boost for the Owls, but they can’t afford to celebrate too long, because a trip to Texas looms this weekend. Still, beating the Wildcats without starters Micheal Eric and Scootie Randall is big for Temple and shows that once those two return, the Owls will be especially formidable.