As we approach the final hour of Tim Tebow's fantastic college career, Gators fans can look back and remember the greatest four years in University of Florida football history. I say "can," but I really mean "are forced to."
Why? Because Tebow has entered the Favre zone.
The Favre zone is an area, roughly the size of North America, occuppied by Brett Favre and Tim Tebow (and probably some other players that I'm failing to remember right now). It is maintained by a network of sports writers and TV personalities who burst a virtual dam of praise any time one of these two players comes up.
You know those parents who always brag about their kids being so advanced for the kid's age? "My little Jimmy can walk now. Did you know he's walking three weeks earlier than average kids?" Yeah, those ones. The entire nation of sports personalities turns into those parents as soon as a member of the Favre zone is brought up.
Tim Tebow and Brett Favre can do no wrong. Also, they lead the world in "We announcers have nothing to talk about so we'll just bring up someone random and roll with it" moments.
If the Browns are playing the Rams and it's not a 70 point offensive explosion or someone isn't streaking on the field, the conversation shifts to Favre. If Dan LeFevour runs for a touchdown, it's "Tebow–ish." Favre and Tebow probably combine for 75 percent of the filler talk that goes on during a football event.
So how did we get to this point? What created the Favre zone? I believe it's a combination of five things.
1. Perceived Accessibility
This goes beyond personality and willingness to give interviews. Charles Barkley iss funny as hell and he'll talk to anyone, but he'll never be in the Favre zone. Why? Because the majority of the media can't connect with him. He's an intimidating black athlete with a knack for busting people's balls. Some people don't want their dirty laundry aired, and if you spend time with Barkley, he'll put it out there.
The athlete has to appear nice, willing, and unthreatening. So what if Favre had his own locker room and alienated himself from the Jets? He did it with a sheepish smile on his face!
2. Stats, Stats, Stats
At the very least the player has to be in some "greatest" discussions. Consistency is key too. While college football doesn't allow for much consistency (you've got about 50 games to make your mark), it's hard to argue against Tebow being one of the most consistent players ever. He's only had one truly bad game, the two INT performance against Mississippi St.
Favre has consistently been the prototypical gunslinger for nearly my entire life. Sure, he's had some down games, but he's always playing. He's managed to put his name next to quite a few passing records as well.
Tebow is an amateur surgeon, prison motivational speaker, and all–around great guy. He's a model student athlete (3.6 GPA), and human–athlete. Basically, there's more to him than football.
Favre has none of those things, but he still manages to check off this one. Hell, I'm pretty sure that football is the only thing keeping Brett Favre alive at this point.
However, John Madden, football's most transcendent figure has a total man-crush on Brett Favre and mentions him at every opportunity. The constant mentions snowballed until everyone had a Favre story, or at least a reason to mention Favre.
The Favre zone is a fickle place. It holds little reverence for the dead, or in this case, the no-longer relevant. If Tebow becomes a backup, or an NFL washout, he's ejected from the Favre zone. Once Favre retires for more than a year, he's gone too.
This is more the conclusion of entering the Favre zone than a requirement for entry. Inevitably, the gushing takes an impossible to prove turn, as those maintaining the Favre zone start making ridiculous comparisons.
Is Tebow better than Vince Young, Herschel Walker, or Barry Sanders? I don't know. Does he mean more to his teams than those guys? I have no idea.
But the Favre zone pushes people to do crazy things, and people who disagree push back.
"Tebow is overrated/Tebow sucks." This is the counter-argument by many who grow wary of the overwhelming praise, and is equally impossible to prove.
It's not like this is new for Tebow. He's been circling around the outside of the Favre zone for a while now. He's the most polarizing, most popular college athlete ever.
However, the recent national farewell tour with everyone participating takes it to a new level (from CBS covering UF-FSU as Tim Tebow Day to the 15 "We'll miss you Tebow!" national articles that followed the game), and that places him in the black hole of media ultra–love that is right at the center of the Favre zone.