Tim Tebow Ripped by Merril Hoge: Rich Gannon Defends and Puts ESPN on Defense

Daniel WilsonContributor IAugust 5, 2011

LOS ANGELES, CA - JULY 13:  (L-R) NFL player Tim Tebow, ESPY winner of Best Female Athlete Olympic downhill skier Lindsey Vonn and actress/model Brooklyn Decker attend The 2011 ESPY Awards at Nokia Theatre L.A. Live on July 13, 2011 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Christopher Polk/Getty Images for ESPN)
Christopher Polk/Getty Images

Tim Tebow being called the golden boy of Florida is an understatement. Having lived in Florida for over a decade I witnessed his superstar status first hand. In some way, shape or form he made the local paper everyday. Whether it was a pep rally speech, charity event, or a rumored fling, his moments were reported and broadcasted to all Floridians whether we wanted to hear it or not.

As you know, Tim Tebow’s celebrity has grown leaps and bounds over the years. He’s been labeled the All-American guy and has been compared to Jesus as the “What Would Tebow Do” phrase has somehow survived in central Florida. He is a living god in Alachua and Duval County and has solidified his national popularity with a Heisman Trophy and a couple of national championships to boot. However, he’s become a polarizing figure, as he’s simply that guy you either love or hate.

It’s no secret that Tebow’s high draft selection raised a few eyebrows. Tim played in a spread offense that rarely required him to learn or develop basic quarterback techniques. Thus, he didn’t and still doesn’t have the natural footwork and arm mechanics that the NFL strongly desires.

Despite Tebow’s apparent lack of QB skills, the Denver Broncos voiced confidence in him by first drafting him and by recently trying to trade away their other, more experienced quarterback Kyle Orton.  In fact, the Dolphins and Broncos were in heavy trade discussions up until four days ago.  Sounds promising for Tebow right?

The trade fell through so Kyle Orton reported to training camp this week. The problem is that Orton has significantly outperformed Tebow and the players, executives and media have all noticed.

ESPN analyst Merril Hoge blasted Tim Tebow on his mechanics and questioned the Broncos executives for even considering Tebow over Kyle Orton.

"I just watched Tebow throw 5 out routes to a wide open WR! He was 1 for 5! Dirt 2 in the stands! That throwing motion he changed? U can't change who u r! Just watched 2 throws and he throws like he did in college!!," Hoge wrote on his Twitter account.

Furthermore, the NFL Network’s insider Michael Lombardi reported that the decision by John Elway and John Fox not to pull the trigger on an Orton trade has made the 2010 first-round pick expendable.  STARTER TO EXPENDABLE in FOUR DAYS!

It’s not all bad for the Floridian god, as LeBron James came to his defense by tweeting, "Tim Tebow will succeed in the NFL. He's a hard worker, a student of the game, a natural born leader and most of all a WINNER!" James continues with, "Guys get on that TV and act like they was all WORLD when they played. How bout encouraging him and wishing him the best instead of hating!!"

Additionally, former Oakland Raiders quarterback Rich Gannon came to Tebow’s defense.

“It bothers me when old running backs or old offensive linemen who’ve now become analysts start analyzing the quarterback position," Gannon said.

"They’re not experts at it. They’ve never played the position. I’m always curious, when they put on the tape, what are they watching? Are they watching footwork? Are they watching mechanics? Are they watching anticipation? Do they understand what the quarterback is told in terms of the progressions, where the read is? You know, so those are the things that really bother me and I just thought he came out and his comments were very strong and I thought a little out of line when you talk about Tim Tebow.”

So what happened? Well the same thing that’s been going on since 2006. Tim Tebow was in the news all day long, as many fans didn’t like Merrill Hoge’s comments in regards to the All-American. In fact, every show on ESPN was forced to defend their NFL analyst for doing his job, which is to analyze NFL players. 

Tony Kornheiser, one of the hosts for PTI on ESPN, even took jabs at LeBron James' response and insinuated that they were self-serving and not in Tebow’s defense.  In my opinion, it further legitimizes Tebow’s polarizing popularity across the nation as it takes a very popular person to put the media on its heels.

So where does the NFL’s leading jersey seller go from here? I’m not sure Tim or the Broncos know the answer to that question. There could be a PR backlash towards the Broncos if they drop or trade Tebow, but there also could be issues with stringing him along if they don’t have long-term intentions.

Kyle Orton could get hurt and Tebow could fill in and pull a Michael Vick by never giving the starting position back; or he could fail miserably and contend with JaMarcus Russell for the NFL’s all-time bust.

Despite a great disdain for Tebow I want him to succeed. He’s one of the kids who does everything right. He’s the guy who stands by his beliefs when it’s not chic to believe in what he believes in. He’s someone different that one moment you hate and the next you love. He’s refreshing, frustrating and inspiring all in one.

He’s not perfect, my Crimson Tide made him cry like a little girl, but he’s made all the right choices and said all the right things and I believe that anyone who plays the game the right way and works hard will eventually succeed. I’m not endorsing Tebow but he’s only been in the league for a year. 

This is my warning to the masses; don’t underestimate a kid compared to Jesus. He could very well succeed whether he’s with the Bronco’s or not.