Tim Tebow Can’t Play. Period.
Tim Tebow can’t play.
Within the wide range of opinion on the Eagles’ acquisition of a quarterback who, after two years of absence from the National Football League, is now suddenly on a roster, that is the fact that stands out to me more than anything. Tebow had played in the NFL for a bit. He caught lightning in a bottle, not unlike a lot of athletes who have played in the league. And then, like a burned-out meteor, he fizzled.
Since that flash-dance season in Denver, he has failed with two other NFL organizations and has been judged by every other team in the league to be unworthy to play at the highest level. The last time I saw Tebow, he couldn’t throw a football the way it needs to be thrown for success in the NFL. In fact, it looks painful when he throws it, like a small child trying to hurl a can of paint. There are some athletes who are successful in college, who just don’t have the skill set to play quarterback in the NFL. There is a list of quarterbacks, who, like Tebow, won the Heisman Trophy in college but couldn’t get a sniff of life in the NFL.
So what is it about this kid? What is this compulsion among American sports fans, the idea that the world will be safer for democracy if Tim Tebow is in the NFL?
It is one of the more fascinating dynamics in sports today. The Tebow story cuts across lines of good and evil, and religion and secular. Tim Tebow has become a real life Captain America. He’s polarizing and yet so uniting.
The same day the Eagles signed Tebow, the folks at the Philadelphia Pretzel Factory worked up a Tebow Pretzel, shaping the dough and then baking it to a form of the quarterback’s familiar kneel-down prayer, famously dubbed Tebowing. That pose has become the trigger point for folks on both sides of the Tebow argument. The pro-Tebow folks are mostly Christians, who see Tebow as some modern day Christ figure, leading the march for Christian purity. The anti-Tebow people blanch at that kneeling gesture, claiming that Tebow is throwing religion in their face in a blatant attempt to recruit the heathens.
I find the whole thing fairly amusing.
I don’t have one negative feeling about Tebow’s open display of prayer and worship of Christ. If that’s his way of thanking the spiritual force that has put his life in a more peaceful place, I say good for him. I’m not like Tim Tebow. I do my worship in private thought. But I wouldn’t begrudge anyone for worshiping in their own way, even if it’s in plain view. My sense is that the people who blanch at Tebow’s spirituality are at that moment wrestling with their own spiritual flaws. They have those flaws and they don’t want to be reminded of them. It’s very much like the folks who find racial conversations uncomfortable for fear that if faced with that subject, they may discover indeed that they are racists.
Nor do I have any problem with Christians using Tebow as their billboard. (I’m not exactly enamored with that Southern Christian message of judging other cultures — particularly their anti-gay rhetoric. But I digress). My ancestors used to worship athletes like Joe DiMaggio and Rocky Marciano because they brought glory and pride to Italian-Americans.
Where I settle in is this: Tim Tebow can’t play. And if this is another one of those Chip Kelly, “I know more about football than any of you people, so screw you” moments, then I have a real problem. What Kelly has created with this whole thing is not competition, but chaos.
Consider that if Tebow makes this team as a third-stringer because of another one of Kelly’s lab experiments, the coach would then be tempted to activate him at the expense of a special teams roster spot. Special teams rosters spots are extremely important on game day. From there, Tebow would be close to starting for the Philadelphia Eagles. Sam Bradford, the starter, jumps into this season recovering from two torn ACL injuries. Mark Sanchez is always playing on borrowed time. If Bradford gets hurt and Sanchez steps in and plays ineffectively, there will be an ardent cry for Tebow.
And as I’ve said at least a hundred times in this piece already, Tim Tebow can’t play.