2007 Heisman Trophy winner Tim Tebow combines an uncanny ability to play quarterback with a devout faith in Christianity. The Denver Broncos selected the former Florida Gator in the first round of the NFL draft and a media circus has followed Tebow since.
Despite the disbelief of numerous draft experts, Denver Head Coach Josh McDaniels drafted Tebow with one purpose in mind: to play him at quarterback.
The Broncos passed on signal callers like Notre Dame's Jimmy Clausen and Texas' Colt McCoy to select a player many had predicted would play either H-back, fullback or tight end in the pros.
Tebow, however, was adamant that he wanted to play quarterback despite the fact his entire throwing motion was dissected by the experts and deemed unacceptable for the NFL. Many said that his windup was too long and release consequently too slow.
Miami Dolphins quarterbacks coach David Lee and NFL assistants Marc Trestman and Zeke Bratkowski worked with Tebow and helped him develop a more compact motion with a quicker release that he showed off at his Pro Day on March 18th.
Tebow combined his new throwing motion with excellent athleticism and parlayed both into a surprise first round selection by the Denver Broncos, who already had veterans Kyle Orton and Brady Quinn on the roster.
Tebow was an instant hit with the NFL fanbase. His jersey was the top selling NFL jersey in April and May, outselling all-time great Brett Favre, Super Bowl star Drew Brees, and No. 1 pick Sam Bradford.
Off the field, Tebow walks proudly with regard to his devout Christian beliefs.
He combines a humble exterior with a constant devoutness to evangelical Christianity and the mission of his father Bob Tebow’s evangelistic ministry in the Philippines, which boasts fundamentalist interpretations of the Bible.
He made news during his senior year when he wore the name and number of Biblical verses on his eye black during games. He consistently refers to God's grace as the reason for his success and these outspoken beliefs have not settled well with some members of his football fraternity.
“I don’t want any part of him or the circus,” one AFC front office executive told Yahoo! Sports Michael Silver. “At some point as a team, don’t you have to be concerned with what comes with him? The guy has never met a microphone he didn’t like and he’s obviously got a message. I think he needs to go away and hide for awhile.”
During the administration of the Wonderlic test to Tebow's group, he made a request that the players bow their heads in prayer before taking the 50-question exam.
One of the players reportedly said, "Shut the f--k up" to a roomful of laughter.
Article update: According to several readers and a link providing updated research, this portion of the article regarding Tebow's prayer request and the actual syntax of the Wonderlic episode is incorrect, but that there was some discussion that may have been profane in nature is possible.
The reporter who originally broke the Wonderlic story, Mike Florio of NBCSports issued a retraction, but says, "It's possible that Tebow made a comment intended for BYU quarterback Max Hall that was overheard by another player, who then made a profane comment in response that was not heard by Tebow."
There is no way of knowing who said what or what was heard, the point is that Tebow can be such a polarizing figure that he is at times a potential target and must be careful of every word which isn't fair but is an unfortunate side effect of fame.
It will be interesting to see how Tebow integrates himself into the Broncos locker room with his notoriety, fame and fundamentalist religious views.
At some point during the season, the players will likely become tired of answering questions about the third string quarterback after just playing their hearts out.
Tebow is McDaniels' signature draft pick and he will spare nothing trying to develop the young quarterback into his signal caller of the future.
The Denver Post goes so far as to question, "Why should [starting quarterback Kyle] Orton stick around and be a clown in the Tim Tebow circus?"
Tebow's fanbase draws from both traditional sources like regular football fans and a new untapped group of religious fans who will follow the game because they follow Tebow.
The Tebow circus is so insane that when the Broncos travel to Jacksonville to start the season the crowd will probably be chanting for the opposing team to put the "Mile High Messiah" in the game.
McDaniels and Tebow hit it off intensely at the combine. "I was jacked leaving that room," Tebow said. "There was passion. It was just intense, and it was ball, and it was juice. The juice level in that room was high, and it was awesome."
The media follows every move Tebow makes. They chronicle his eating habits, leisure activities, and Sunday mass appearances. Enough is enough already.
The Colorado evangelicals have already run an article titled, "Colorado Evangelicals Sing Praises of Tebow." In the article they raved about his character and values.
Promise Keepers founder and former Colorado coach Bill McCartney said, "There is an anointing on Tim and his family. He's one of those guys who comes along who has God's hand prints all over him."
By all accounts Tebow is a solid young man who is living out his dream of trying to become a starting quarterback in the NFL. Tebow is wildly popular in some circles of the NFL and a polarizing figure in others.
We find ourselves in a new era in this world of instant media access and with this capability comes a new electronic version of the old wooden podium. As soon as an athlete says something, the nation has access to his words. This enhances the athlete's power and Tebow has both capitalized on this media power, but been hurt by it as well.