Denver Broncos: Stop Comparing Tim Tebow to John Elway

Daniel BogaardCorrespondent IApril 27, 2011

The Greatest...EVER
The Greatest...EVERBrian Bahr/Getty Images

The cries have gotten louder as the weeks have grown longer in Broncos' Country

Things get rather desperate around here when there is nothing new to discuss.

We now have debates arising amongst those who graciously leave comments on Bleacher Report articles pontificating that Tim Tebow is better than our beloved John Elway, at least through three starts. 

These debates are not based on whether Elway should trade Tebow; they are based on drivel suggested by the Tebow contingent, claiming Tebow is comparable to Elway as a football player. 

However, I emphatically assert that to compare Tebow, or even put him in the same sentence with Elway, is not only ludicrous but also incredulously vacuous.

Yet, the argument will remain Tebow is just as good as/will be as good as Elway because he won more games in college (with a superior team), won a Heisman (on a superior team) and had better stats than Elway in his first three pro starts.

I suppose this frivolous debate stems from many things. 

The primary factors seem to revolve around Tebow’s college career, his mentality and his first three starts. Because we are all out of options, at least until Thursday, I figured we could examine the Tebow vs. Elway debate. 


It Was a Different Time Then

Comment: “if Elway himself would have been judged on 3 starts as a rookie, Elway would have been bounced out of the league before seeing year No. 2. Elway didn't throw a TD pass in his 1st three starts. Where in Mickey Mouse's world do you people come up with this ****?”

I do not understand the "one-year" argument with Elway. The NFL was a completely different league 28 years ago. 

For one, the advent of free agency was not as ubiquitous as it is now, meaning teams were not concerned with "franchise tags" or "unrestricted free agents" back then.  Teams drafted who they assumed would be "franchise" QBs and, for the most part, they stuck with them. 

By this rationale alone, Elway would have seen the field for most of his contract years—except he took his team to the Super Bowl shortly thereafter, thus nullifying any negative sentiment.  Has anyone heard of “The Drive?"

Look it up.


Head to Head: The Difference a Pro-Style Offense Can Make

The Broncos decided to trade for Elway after he was taken with the first overall pick, which means he was not the 25th pick in the first round. I can hear the argument for Tebow that those first 24 teams are merely led by idiots and cowards, but the premise is still the same. 

Elway was the most highly recruited QB prospect out of high school (actually one of the best ever) and the most coveted QB coming out of Stanford, hence why he was chosen No. 1 overall in the draft. 

For Tebow, it was slightly different. 

Since he first threw a football, coaches were consistently telling Tebow to pick a different position. Moreover, when they would not consider him at QB, he decided to go to a different team. To consider the QB pedigree of the two individuals is really an exercise in futility. 

Reasons for this vary. 

Maybe it was because Elway actually played in a pro-style offense in high school and college, not some "Meyered" type of offense predicated upon a QB running the ball just as much as he threw it. 

This fact is not solely based on conjecture, either. 

For instance, have you seen the statue of Tebow outside the Swamp?  Of course you have. Sometimes I forget to whom I am talking. 

Let me just say the statue is not of Tebow dropping back for one of his glorious passes, as is the case with the Spurrier and Wuerffel statues. It is of him running the ball! Even the statue makers knew he was more of a running QB who threw than vice versa! Yet, we are all supposed to believe otherwise? 

In Tebow’s defense, we all know the QB with a great propensity to run is a typical college system.

Yet, this system is not one that will merit similar results at the pro level and consequently has been more detrimental to Tebow than any fan in the Swamp will ever capitulate. 

Evidence of this empirical truth can be found in the watered-down offense the Denver coaching staff created for Tebow during his fantastic three starts, where he went 1-2. The offense consisted of the plethora of screen passes he threw, and his overall lack of acuity when it came to "checking down" through his progressions caused him to "tuck and run" as soon as Brandon Lloyd was covered. 


A One Man Wrecking Crew

Comment: I just recall all of the End Zones Elway couldn't get in to when it counted. Remember the old joke about Elway not being able to get into his house after some games because someone painted an End Zone in his front yard? But by year 14 & 15, Elway figured it out.

Elway played at Stanford, which was not nationally recognized for bringing the nation’s greatest talents to Palo Alto. In spite of the mediocre teams Elway played for, he still was in contention for the Heisman trophy his final year in college, finishing second to Herschel Walker. 

Rumor has it that the "Band is on the Field" game did not bode well for Elway's chances. As for Walker, he went on to singlehandedly rebuild the Dallas Cowboys via a trade with the Minnesota Vikings.

This trend of Elway playing on lackluster teams continued throughout his early career as he was a proverbial one-man wrecking crew leading the Broncos to three Super Bowls in four seasons. 

Don't believe me? 

How many other busts in Canton do you see along with Elway's from those Super Bowl teams in the '80s? I do not think they are holding a spot for Mecklenburg, Rulon Jones or Sammy Winder. 

Can anyone, other than a die-hard Bronco fan, name a player from his receiving corps or backfield in those days? 

When you say the Three Amigos to most people, maybe even some of those who have merely gravitated to Denver because of the infectious groove that is Tebow, they will respond with Chevy Chase, Martin Short and Steve Martin. 

When in reality, they were Vance Johnson, Mark Jackson and Ricky Nattiel, the three guys who made up Elway's primary receiving corp in those Super Bowl years. Yet Elway was able to make everyone else around him better and lead teams that, frankly, had no chance of being there to the Super Bowl. 


But Tebow Did The Same Thing


I often hear people make the same argument for Tebow, yet how do we know?

I could be wrong, but I am almost certain that Tebow did not take a bunch of “no-names” to the BCS Championship. However, he did play a game in high school on a broken leg. 

Tebow played for the University of Florida, who is nationally recognized as one of the top football programs in the country. 


They get some of the best semblance of talent in the country. 

The famed SEC is a hot bed for all the prominent college recruits, which could lead one to correlate Tebow was surrounded by the nation’s best position players. It is much easier to look really good when you have lightning fast receivers, blue-chip recruits and ridiculously talented guys playing around you. 

How many players has Florida sent to the NFL in recent years?

We do not need to bring up how many busts there have been because that is a different story all together, but the premise is still the same. 

One cannot refute Tebow brings an energy to the field that obviously a guy like Kyle Orton does not. However, this season, when Tebow has shoddy protection from his offensive line instead of All-Americans, what will happen? Or how about average receivers—aside from Lloyd—instead of All-Americans and an anemic rushing attack led by Knowshon Moreno? 

Then you couple in a defense with zero Pro-Bowlers (aside from Champ) as opposed to the bevy of All-Americans that Florida put out while he was there. Will he really have the ability to duplicate Elway’s greatness or even his own collegiate greatness?    

The truth is we do not know because he has never been on a team without an enormous amount of talent surrounding him. 

Until now.


Is This All Simply Inane Talk Perpetuated By Wishful Thinking?

Comment: Give the guy a chance before you trash him. I wish they would just trade Tebow so that he could go somewhere and be a starter and not be surrounded by the haters. He was a winner in college and he will be a winner now. Tebow is synonymous with "winner." He's got heart.

Apparently, John Elway does not or never did win, even though he is the only QB to start in five Super Bowls.  

He is one of four to throw for over 50,000 yards, and one of four to throw for over 300 TDs. 

Yet, all of a sudden, a three-game measure is enough to gauge a rookie against a Hall of Famer. The equivalent to this nonsense would be to say if Moreno gained more yards in his first three games than Walter Peyton did, he must be a better back. 

One final note, as NFL Network released their Top 100 Players of All-Time, John Elway landed in the top 25. 

That's all time, folks!

I am not saying Tebow does not have the potential to be good, possibly even great. He is probably Denver's best choice at QB right now, and I hope he is successful. 

However, I am a realist. 

To be ambivalent to the aforementioned facts regarding the talent Tebow was surrounded with and is now consequently lacking is a tremendous oversight—regardless of who he was in college. 

To think a guy who had question marks as a QB to begin with will not struggle in this scenario is a mistake. Yet, somehow I will be construed as the hater of the bunch because I am skeptical of a guy who always had talent around him and is now sorely lacking said talent. 

But the point is, regardless of Tebow's status or performance, the comparisons to Elway based on three starts is asinine and should be disregarded as such. 

So please, for the sake of everyone's sanity, let Tebow finish a full season, or maybe even a career, before the flock from Gainesville begin to anoint him better than the greatest player in the history of our beloved franchise. 

Particularly when Tebow would never ask to be mentioned in the same breath with Elway. 


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