Unconventional. Polarizing. Overhyped. Blessed. Hated.
These are just some of the words used to describe Tim Tebow after his to-the-moon 2011 season that came back down to earth in the final weeks of the season and postseason. Much like the Jeremy Lin "linsanity" that we are experiencing now in the sports world, not just the NBA, Tebow also surpassed conventional QB wisdom and the confines of the gridiron and NFL fans to become a media sensation.
If you turned it to ESPN, ESPN2, NFL Network and even local news stations, Tebow was showing up on highlights and on crawls throughout our television screens nationwide. So, there we were—Tebowmania, in full effect—and there is Brady Quinn, sitting on the sidelines scratching his head.
This week, it was released through a GQ article that Brady Quinn was not just overly-sensitive to the issue of Tebowmania, but also rather critical of the influence it had on fans, media and possibly even the decision-makers in Denver. This was drawn out very clearly in Quinn's own words to GQ during his interview:
Early in the season, there was a game when Kyle [Orton] got hurt and the coaches were calling for me to go in, but Kyle got up and finished the game out. So I was the second-string guy. Then, a few weeks later, they decided to put Tim in. I felt like the fans had a lot to do with that. Just 'cause they were chanting his name. There was a big calling for him. No, I didn't have any billboards. That would have been nice.
Call it bitterness. Maybe that's all it is, but maybe there is more. Several players spoke out through the media and also social networks like Twitter and Facebook to "vent" their frustrations on getting overlooked for their personal or team accomplishments as Tebowmania took hold of our television sets, radio stations and everything in between. My take is that Quinn does not stand on his own with the verbal sentiment left by him in his the GQ piece.
Look, I get it: Tim Tebow is so polarizing in his up-and-coming year in the NFL. We can beat up his mechanics as a quarterback. His 72.9 percent QB rating and 46.5 percent completion percentage are indication enough of his young career maturation process.
However, reading through the comments objectively, there are some points that jump out at me as less spite and malice, and more of a common denominator with NFL players—and even a large portion of NFL fans.
Those points could be broken down into a simple conclusion:
Tebow's story and rise to "success" in the city of Denver this year was captivating. It deserved "some" attention, but did it deserve all that it got? Just as Jeremy Lin's last name is being used to caption photos and headline articles with clever puns and a game of play-on-words, Tebow certainly overshadowed the visibility of his team. One could say that it's the media's fault, but maybe it's on Tim Tebow some as well.
Say what you want about his personality, his faith and his emotional makeup—all of which are solid traits of Tebow's—but did him continually taking a knee on-field and on-camera to pray serve as a distraction and continual flame on the "tebowing" fire without regard to attention to his teammates? If you read Quinn's comments, it sounds as if his thoughts align with that idea:
If you look at it as a whole, there's a lot of things that just don't seem very humble to me. When I get that opportunity, I'll continue to lead not necessarily by trying to get in front of the camera and praying but by praying with my teammates, you know?
Maybe Quinn has a point with that? Not that I have a problem with showing of spiritual faith on-field, but when it's clear that doing so (especially on camera) is beginning to detract attention from your purpose of doing it, as well as the effort and work of your teammates, in a manner, maybe it's not the best approach to exercise that faith.
Anyone coming from a Christian faith will understand the concept of being proud and open about your faith, but not having to make a public display that garners attention to you, instead of who you may be praising. While this is only a small part of Quinn's complaints, I think it's honestly valid and very relevant.
In my opinion, Tebowmania was good for the Broncos as a brand, garnering them recognition and relevance again in a landscape of big market teams like New York and New England that typically dominate the headlines. However, the headlines didn't read Broncos-mania, and often-times, never spoke of the defensive effort that kept the Broncos in nearly all of their games, giving Tebow and the entire offense a chance to make plays collectively at the end of the game.
The last time I checked, Tebow doesn't throw and catch the ball. He doesn't hand it off to himself. And he surely doesn't line up in a three-point stance to take on would-be runners while playing defense for the Broncos.
We continually push as fans and media to get the outspoken side of athletes—to be honest and forthcoming with their thoughts and opinions. We finally get that from Brady Quinn, and now it's being second-guessed and scrutinized by that very same media and fanbase. Maybe he should have given the same canned, cliche responses that we always get, but why can we fault him for speaking his mind, which he was prompted to do in the article?
His complaint on the lack of a billboard by the fans in Denver—I see nothing wrong with that. Tebow fans will call it jealousy, but I consider it a valid point. It's OK to get behind a player as a team fan-base, but let's face it, Quinn was second on the depth chart, and when Orton went down, I truly believe that the decision makers in Denver were indeed swayed by the chants.
Quinn won his spot on the depth chart based on his performance and didn't get a chance to lose it based on performance. Call it a double-standard, and with the Broncos wanting QB competition for Tebow in the upcoming season, maybe Quinn is more validated in his comments than he would have been otherwise.
The fact of the matter is that Tebowmania became overshadowing and overbearing, not just for some teammates, not just for other NFL players or teams, but also for fans who want to follow the National Football League and their favorite teams and players, not just Tim Tebow.