The Denver Broncos are down in the doldrums right now.
The Broncos actually have a chance to win five games this year, which would only make it the worst year record-wise in two decades. But with a loss, it makes the 2010 team the worst since 1971’s squad that went 4-9-1 and finished dead last in the AFC West.
While many of the older generations remember when Denver was that terrible, it’s still been a shock to the system for fans that are not used to the Broncos being one of the worst franchises in football.
The worst part is not only that the team has lost games; they were completely unable to compete in almost every game.
Plus, the Broncos organization has been tarnished by the cheating scandal that rocked fans in the Rocky Mountains in 2010, and the death of young receiver Kenny McKinley was hard to swallow for many as well.
And while the Broncos may seem completely hopeless, a young player gives fans a reason to hope.
Tim Tebow, in his second ever NFL start, led the Broncos to a fourth-quarter comeback, something special and not seen much since John Elway’s departure a decade ago. Tebow’s 308 yards passing were remarkable for a rookie, as were his two touchdowns, including the one on the ground, which won the game for the Broncos.
What was remarkable to see in NFL Films’ segment in which Tebow was mic’d up for in last week’s game was the determination, leadership and how he took over to win the contest in only his second ever game.
Just before the winning touchdown run, in which Tebow faked right and took off to the left, leaving Texans defenders eating his dust, he ran to the sideline and yelled at interim head coach Eric Studesville, “There's only one person that carries the ball right here!"
Tebow wanted the ball in his hands. He wanted to score the touchdown. He wanted to bring Broncos fans their first win in five weeks.
Tim Tebow is a winner, the unique kind of player that yearns to have the ball in his hands and win the game for his team in the clutch.
In those qualities, Tim Tebow is Elway-esque.
Tebow, the rookie first-round quarterback, has garnered more attention than any Broncos rookie since the Duke of Denver himself, John Elway.
Back in 1983, one could look in a local Denver newspaper and read what the young Elway had for lunch the previous day. And while the coverage hasn’t been quite as extensive for Tebow, it’s been close.
Before Tebow was drafted, he and the other three top QBs from the 2010 draft (Sam Bradford, Jimmy Clausen and Colt McCoy) took time to shoot a special with ex-NFL head coach Jon Gruden. Gruden was especially high on Tebow, challenging him and questioning whether or not Tim could play quarterback at a professional level.
Gruden showed clip after clip of Tebow driving the ball over the goal line, comparing him to fullback Mike Alstott, but Tebow was adamant on continuing to play QB.
Gruden gushed about Tebow saying, "There wasn't really anything I didn't like about Tim Tebow. I know this, if you ask him to do something, he will try relentlessly to get it done."
Gruden also asked Tebow about his unorthodox throwing motion, one of the few negatives anyone could find against the phenomenal young athlete, and the special showed Tim taking thousands of reps a day to attain a more NFL-appropriate style of throw.
Tebow’s work ethic is second to none, a reason people have latched onto the young quarterback.
To wit, Tebow’s was the NFL’s best selling jersey before he had ever stepped foot on Mile High Stadium’s turf or threw a pass in Broncos’ blue and orange.
Tebow’s potential alone pushed fans to purchase his jersey all across the country, a type of popularity the Broncos haven’t enjoyed since the days of Elway.
More media exposure, including Sports Illustrated’s coverage of him as one of sports’ most fascinating of 2011, is a positive for a Broncos organization that doesn’t have much good going for it currently.
The national media, which have treated Denver like a dusty little cow town for decades, now have a player they root for. The talking heads that usually have an East-coast bias will have to wake up and check out the young player that is blossoming in Denver.
But of course, they won’t all have love for Tebow, he’s too contentious a character.
Tebow is a highly divisive person--he can split a team's fanbase quicker than Moses with the Red Sea--for a number of reasons.
First and foremost, Tebow is a winner, and unless you have ties to Florida, you probably dislike him for burning your college team some Saturday.
Not only did he lead the Gators to a National Title, Tebow won a Heisman Trophy too—beckoning the haters to discount him as a great player.
Obviously, his strong ties to religion and the anti-abortion ad he starred in with his mother during the Super Bowl last year put some fans in the uncomfortable position of picking their team over their morals.
Others more easily ignore Tebow’s stout religiosity and enjoy him for his talents on the football field.
In the end, people are genuinely jealous of Tim Tebow, from his all-American good looks to his ability to dominate on the football field.
This may not seem like a good thing, but as Willis Reed once said, “They don’t boo nobodies.”
Tebow’s the type of player that will rekindle rivalries and spark new ones.
Tebow’s the kind of player people not connected to the Broncos will love to hate.
And whether you love him or hate him now, Tim Tebow is already, and will continue to be a great thing for the Denver Broncos for many years to come.
Rich Kurtzman is a freelance journalist actively seeing a career in journalism. Along with being a Denver Broncos, Denver Nuggets and NBA Featured Columnist for bleacherreport.com, Kurtzman is the CSU Rams Examiner, the Colorado/Utah Regional Correspondent for stadiumjourney.com and a weekly contributor to milehighhoops.com.
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