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Making Sense of Tebowmania

December 19, 2011 Leave a comment

By: Aaron Watson

Here is what Tim Tebow isn’t: a polished passer capable of making quick decisions or reading a defense like Brady or Brees.

Here is what Tim Tebow is: an incredible leader, runner and motivator who doesn’t make costly mistakes and is growing as a passer each week.

He didn’t ask for the hype. He doesn’t write the hundreds of stories each week about his heroics. He’s just trying to win football games for a team that, if we’re being honest, is mediocre at best. Yet for some reason the publicity he has generated just “trying his hardest to win” has made him a target for voracious criticism and overzealous praise that no other young player in the league seems to see.

But I guess it is fitting to have the Mile High Messiah being crucified for being different.

Nevermind that he is outplaying the oft injured Sam Bradford, last year’s #1 overall pick. Or former high picks Josh Freeman, Joe Flacco, Blaine Gabbert, Colt McCoy, Jimmy Clausen and Christian Ponder. While those players continue to struggle week after week, it is Tebow who gets blasted by the pundits who seem to forget he is young, winning, and surrounded by a cast of players no one else wanted. And did I mention this is the same team that won 2 games last year?

I guess having too many fans is a cardinal sin in the NFL.

Does he get too much credit for his last minute heroics that have caused his team to move from 1-4 to first place in the AFC West? Sure. Has the defense made some great plays? Absolutely. But to say his 7-2 record is simply due to the defense and kicker is to forget how awful this team was in the first 5 games with Kyle Orton. And when Brady and Stafford carve up that defense with ease it should serve a reminder that this is simply an average team.

I honestly believe that if Tebow wasn’t so popular, he wouldn’t be as vilified. But as his ardent fans base continues to grow, his detractors feel the need to knock him down as many notches as they possibly can, regardless of how fair and honest their criticism. They see Tebowmaniacs going overboard in their support and thus feel the need to go overboard in their condemnation. There is no middle ground.

No one seems to accept the obvious. The team is average. The quarterback is young and has a steep learning curve. And the team is overachieving.

If the criticism was fair then Tebow’s detractors should be vilifying Sam Bradford for stumbling through an atrocious season. And if the support was fair then people would be lining up to receive Andy Dalton’s autograph and talking about how God must be a Bengals fan (that would be ironic).

But they are not. Because this isn’t about football anymore. It’s about him. It’s about a young man’s aura attracting a fan based that is simply unwarranted based on his production. And that just pisses off armchair quarterbacks who know he can’t be successful… ever. They’ve played enough Madden and fantasy football to know what a good quarterback looks like.

So to you pissed off armchair quarterbacks, I have a brief message:

Let the fans in Denver have their moment. If he can’t play, as you seem convinced, then the madness will end after 2 or 3 seasons like it does with all other young QB’s and you will have your moment of glory. And if you can’t do that, then at least be fair in your criticism instead of being just as irrational as the fans who think he deserves all the credit.  You don’t need to buy in, and you can be critical. Just give him the same deference you seem inclined to give every young quarterback not named Tebow.

And then when his legend fades off into the sunset one inaccurate pass after another, you can smile and look the rest of us in the eye and say, “I told you so.”

Or maybe, just maybe, he proves you wrong.

Aaron Watson saw his NFL career cut short when his pee wee coaches informed him he wasn’t very good. So he turned his attention to writing, studying journalism in college while blogging for several sporting blogs since 2005. He and his wife currently live in Richmond, VA, one of the worst sports towns in America despite the short lived hype during the Final Four. When he is not at the local sports bar pursuading the owners to put the Buccaneer or Gator game on the big screen, Aaron serves as the Director of Staff Development for TeenPact Leadership Schools, a non-profit training teens to impact their nation through government, business and ultimate frisbee. He has also stayed in Tim Tebow’s house.

Tebowing

November 20, 2011 1 comment

By: Nate Douglas

If Tim Tebow hadn’t already, as of last Thursday, he turned the NFL-world upside down.  Here was this quarterback—he of the sub-50% completion rate and who couldn’t hit sumo wrestlers between the numbers from 10 yards, wreaking havoc among the platonic NFL quarterback molds, causing former greats like John Elway to cringe-smile on national television.  The Denver Broncos are now 4-1 this year when Tebow starts, in stark contrast to the 5 games before where they went 1-4 with Kyle Orton under center.  This has led Tebow’s proponents (primarily Christian conservatives) to proclaim their “I told you so!  I’ve been saying this for the last year!” even louder (something we did not know was possible as of a week ago).  ESPN did a 180 on their Tebow position and LeBron James (the patron saint of bandwagon fans) sang their praises now that he was winning. “He just wins!” Tebow fans exclaimed.  That statement doesn’t smoke my brisket, however, and here’s why.

Just like Houston being undefeated isn’t doing much for the college football writers in their rankings, Tebow’s “he just wins” arguments aren’t doing much for me, either.  In the Kyle Orton days when the Broncos went 1-4, the overall record as of this morning of those teams was 29-16.  Translation: they were losing to really good teams.  Under Tebow’s tenure when the Broncos are 4-1, the overall record of the teams that Tebow beat was 10-18.  Translation: Tebow is good at beating cupcakes.  On the other hand, he gets annihilated by decent teams like the Detroit Lions.  To put it in college football terms (because we’re currently living in awesomely chaotic college football times), Tebow is beating the Northwest Arkansas State A&M’s of the world but he has yet to consistently beat the SEC-quality team.  When he does that, then I’ll say he’s a good quarterback.  Until then, he’s just a white, classy version of Vince Young.  And we know how he turned out…

Now, an important disclaimer—I’m rooting for Tebow.  We’re both born and raised Protestant Christians and we were both homeschooled.  I want him to succeed because he’s not floating down the river of “This is how NFL QB’s play”; he’s fighting his way upstream, and it drives NFL so-called gurus (I’m looking at you, Skip Bayless) crazy. It’s easy for them to bash somebody for weeks, quickly apologize for 15 seconds when it turned out they were wrong, and then move on to the next topic…though I still love watching that anyway.  Not only is Tim Tebow an outspoken Christian pro-athlete who doesn’t pay clichéd lip service to God after wins—he’s actually genuine…and he’s a badass on the field.  More Christians who openly share their faith are not only infiltrating the ranks of pro-sports, but they are actually really good (Josh Hamilton, Stephen Curry, et al.).  This is fantastic.   Tebow is a class act, he represents, and that’s why people like him so much.  Christians should watch him and observe the impact he’s making on secular culture, because it is truly amazing how transcendent sports can be in our world.  All of that said, I’m not ready to call Tebow a real deal studmuffin football player just yet, and would recommend his fans throttle down their enthusiasm just a little bit.

So the story is not over yet.  But let’s not act like an overly excited Cowboys fan in the preseason, proclaiming the ‘Boys are Super Bowl bound.  Let’s keep tabs on it.  Root for Tebow, but don’t say he’s one of the best QB’s going. You will appear like you don’t know much about football.   But Christians should definitely keep both eyes on this story.  Watch Tebow in his games, but most importantly, watch him in interviews, read what the pundits say and see how the social media world reacts.  Tebow’s story is very relevant in the culture wars right now and it should not go unnoticed.

Nate Douglas lives in Fort Worth, Texas, with his wife, son and another in the on-deck circle.  While his day job is sorting through the dirty legal details of the oil and gas industry, his night job is a sports Jack Bauer.  He has yet to come off his Dallas Mavericks championship-high, he prays for that last strike in the World Series for his beloved Rangers, and that his children will never know a day where they weren’t fans of his favorite teams.  You can follow him on Twitter- @NateDouglas34.  

The Superstar Backup: Should Kyle Orton start over Tim Tebow?

August 13, 2011 1 comment

By: Aaron Watson

 

The Denver Broncos have a bit of a problem on their hands. Tim Tebow isn’t practicing well. Or playing well in team scrimmages. And not just compared to starter Kyle Orton, who according to team sources has been light years ahead of the former Heisman trophy winner in training camp. No, Tebow seems to be in a legitimate battle with former first round pick Brady Quinn for the #2 spot on the roster.

But don’t tell that to the fans, who are clamoring to see the legend of Tebow grow as the starting quarterback for the Denver Broncos. And therein lies the problem.

 

Team owners and new coach John Fox just don’t seem convinced that Tebow can be an effective quarterback in this league. But the fans aren’t interested in another losing season with Kyle Orton at the helm throwing for tons of yardage in the fourth quarter when the game is already out of reach. They want a franchise player who can bring back the glory days of John Elway.

 

And they think Tebow is that player.

 

And if the Broncos don’t let him prove that, they are making a huge mistake.

 

Don’t get me wrong, I am not convinced Superman is an elite QB prospect. Coming out of college I questioned his anticipation, accuracy and timing, and I’ve seen nothing in the last year that leads me to believe he has corrected those weaknesses. However, by leaving an icon on the bench in favor of a journeyman who just hasn’t won games, the team is hijacking their long-term future by not letting the Tebow experiment play out. Allow me to explain.

 

Either Tebow can play or he can’t. But you don’t find that out by having him ride the pine. And I guarantee you the fans, who have bought hook line and sinker into Tebowmania, won’t be satisfied with having their Savior on the bench. Even if Orton wins 8 games, the guys in the stands will say Timmy would have won 12. And news flash to those in the front office: those are the folks who pay the bills. Those are the folks who made a rookie’s jersey the most popular item the NFL store carried. Who made a preseason debut one of the most watched games in NFL preseason history. And who seem willing to fill the stands to watch him play regardless of the scoreboard.

 

Make no mistake about it; if the guy can’t play, then cut him or trade him. A franchise should never play a guy who keeps losing just because the fans like him. But this franchise is being hijacked by the hype, and that needs to stop. Putting Tebow on the field and letting him sink or swim is the only way to satisfy a fan base starving for excitement.

 

Let’s face it, Kyle Orton may be a more polished player, but does anyone really think he is a franchise QB? The Bears didn’t, so they let him leave after four years. And after two futile years in Denver, it is apparent that he is simply an average player. So why hitch your future to that wagon? The last team to win a Superbowl with an average QB was Tampa Bay in 2003, who had one of the greatest defenses of the decade, and who fell apart the following seven years. This is a passing league that demands great QB play for a team to be successful.

 

And who knows… maybe Tebow will reinvent the way the game is played. Or maybe he will put the Broncos in the driver’s seat for superprospect Andrew Luck.

 

Neither of those options sound bad to me.

Aaron Watson saw his NFL career cut short when his pee wee coaches informed him he wasn’t very good. So he turned his attention to writing, studying journalism in college while blogging for several sporting blogs since 2005. He and his wife currently live in Richmond, VA, one of the worst sports towns in America despite the short lived hype during the Final Four. When he is not at the local sports bar pursuading the owners to put the Buccaneer or Gator game on the big screen, Aaron serves as the Director of Staff Development for TeenPact Leadership Schools, a non-profit training teens to impact their nation through government, business and ultimate frisbee. He has also stayed in Tim Tebow’s house.