Tim Tebow's Travels: A Media Orbit and a Dose of Reality
The chronicles of Tim Tebow's career have been a mixture of excitement and adversity. It's the variable of the unknown that continues to be the catalyst in debates over his shortcomings, performance and accomplishments.
When Tebow was at the University of Florida, I was a believer—he played with passion, grit and leadership. Watching him during the four years at Florida triggered my memory from years before, watching Danny Wuerffel (Woeful during his NFL days) chuck it up to Jacquez Green.
Tebow is one of the most revered athletes in Florida University history and yet, as the Tebow timeline of events has played out, my admiration has transformed into indifference, which has materialized into frustration at the "Tebowmania" that has bled streaks of Gator-Bronco orange across the country.
It's not that I dislike the guy, I mean who could, right? He's a humanitarian, a virtuous person, and finds optimism in just about all that he does. There is a multitude of elements to why the sensationalism of Tebow is some of the most blatant, transparent slander in sports.
Someone once told me that if you can convince people to believe what you're saying, it doesn't matter if it's newsworthy or not—the beauty and terror of the media's influence. Regardless whether you are a supporter or hater of Tebow, I don't see a rationalization for the amount of information that is reported on him on a daily basis.
Can anyone justify using the name "Tebow" 160 times in one episode of "SportsCenter"? It is clear that media outlets believe the story maintains a passionate opinion no matter what side you're on, but no one person or topic needs that level of exposure. If our country was this informed about politics as we are Tebow, I would understand the relevance.
Will Tebow start next year for the Broncos?
Tebow is famous for his title as a successful college quarterback and a "successful" NFL quarterback, not for his off-the-field beliefs or agenda. If Tebow wasn't an NFL quarterback, no one would care about what type of person he was, meaning he uses his place in society to promote his beliefs (that even Kurt Warner thinks are too overt).
Not that I have a specific problem with what he believes in, but in an NFL setting or at an NFL press conference, he shouldn't be venturing outside the NFL context to discuss "building hospitals in the Philippines."
If Tebow's character and personal beliefs are under the microscope, it should make news on such sources as "Inside Edition," or "People Magazine." It shouldn't be obstructing sports networks from air time to address other events. Events such as Drew Brees breaking Dan Marino's 27-year-old passing record and Jim Harbaugh turning the 49ers around, are topics that deserve discussion.
I'm not being insensitive to Tebow, just suggesting that we don't need a 24-7 run down of the guy's life. I don't disagree that being a virtuous person is more important than being a professional athlete, but if we focused solely on his role in an NFL context (which is the point of watching and following the NFL), we would see there is absolutely no need for the glorification of a quarterback who performs on the field as suspect and mediocre as Tebow does.
The notion that Tebow is a productive NFL quarterback or will be successful, stems from the media and his supporters exaggerating his achievements by praising him with an "ungodly" amount of credit during his victories and cutting him an extreme amount of slack on the Broncos' losses.
In last week's 45-10 season-ending loss to the Patriots, Tebow had less completions than Tom Brady had touchdown passes at halftime, registering 136 yards passing on 9-26 and ran for a mere 13 yards on five carries against the second worst ranked defense in football. Some were still as brave to say that it was solely the defense's fault in last week's devastating loss to the Patriots.
Supporters are able to get away with these delusions because it is still unknown what Tebow will be in the NFL. I understand that it's possible (although unlikely) that he can become a great NFL quarterback, I'm just stating what type of player he is now, which is straight up and down mediocre.
If you're on the flip side of this argument, let me provide you with what he has accomplished in his first season in a full-time role for the Broncos. He took over the Broncos when they were 1-4 and was part of a team team that won the division, going 8-4 as the starter.
His Broncos beat a banged up Ben Roethlisberger-led Steelers team who missed various key players (Ryan Clark, Rashard Mendenhall, Casey Hampton, Brett Keisel, Maurkice Pouncey, etc.), recorded a 46.5 completion percentage, a 123.5 yard passing clip per game, accounted for 18 total touchdowns in 12 games, had a 72.9 quarterback rating and completed five fourth-quarter comebacks.
Determining an individual's worth or value in a team game is difficult, especially in football, where there are more players relied on to make plays. The Broncos catered their offense to his inability to be a pocket passer, allowing him to run an offense he was familiar with from college.
This either resulted in no offensive production (Week 17 against Chiefs), or was just barely enough production to manage a win. In four of Tebow's five fourth-quarter comebacks, he didn't get going until the fourth quarter, meaning he was the beneficiary of the Broncos' defense throughout the game.
Given that the team's defense played at a high level for all four quarters and he only played well for some of the fourth quarter in games, I would say their defense was a bigger contribution in some, if not all, of their comeback wins.
In Week 14's game against Chicago, if it weren't for Marion Barber's mental lapse of going out of bounds inside two minutes, Tebow and the Broncos would mathematically have got the ball back with less than one minute and no timeouts, likely eliminating a game-tying drive scenario.
Between the abridged training camp, emphasis on helmet-to-helmet contact and the amount of other key penalties this season, defenses took a step back. While passing numbers soared, Tebow had his struggles through the air, with a few exceptions. His only victory against a playoff team this season came against the Steelers, who I previously mentioned were playing without a number of key players.
While many people will say that Tebow has made strides in his first season as the starting quarterback for the Broncos and will improve, I refute that statement. Mark Sanchez and the Jets went to two straight AFC Championship games, which was a product of the Jets defense and the pieces on offense surrounding Sanchez.
Sanchez and Tebow are similar quarterbacks because their offenses are structured around their limitations and inabilities (high maintenance quarterbacks). Tebow has shown no real signs of fixing his throwing mechanics or becoming a pocket passer, and as the season went on, defenses showed signs of figuring out how to stop Tebow and his option offense (an offense never run efficiently in the NFL).
When an NFL player finds success or is put under the spotlight, I pride myself on being able to tell people that I have liked that player ever since I watched them play in college. Having appreciated Tebow at Florida, he is one of the few exceptions, which is largely in part of the falsified glorification of his play on the field.
It is ironic that I have expressed a futility in Tebowmania because I have been forced to join the Tebow epidemic. In doing so, I have tried to enable people to think more clearly on this topic and let Tebow's sub-par performance resonate.
I am not doubting what type of person he is, or his character, only his capabilities as an NFL quarterback. To fairly evaluate talent at the NFL level you must address a player's performance with what you see on the field—it's really that simple.
It's been hard to see through the calculated conditioning surrounding Tebow, which has made him out to be an accomplished quarterback, a mirage from his paltry statistics and his short-lived offensive prowess.
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