Tim Tebow is one of the most fascinating athletes to emerge in pro sports in living memory. He is incredibly revered in Gainesville, Florida, where he made a school, its students, and their fans across the nation proud time and time again.
Widely considered the best NCAA football player ever, Tebow is not known for mind-numbing statistics or incredible mechanics. He was loved in college for his intensity, heart and magical will to win games.
His will to win was never clearer than the '08 season, in the games following the Gators' loss to Ole' Miss at home. After Tebow's legendary "Pledge," the Gators went on to win every game thereafter, including the national title against the record-setting Oklahoma Sooners.
The major question now is: Can Tim Tebow immortalize himself in the NFL the way he did in the NCAA? Does he even need the mechanics, or will his unorthodox play style be enough when combined with his monster intangibles?
The funny irony is, Tebow owes his chance to play at least in part to his former understudy, Cam Newton. The 2011 No. 1 overall pick was considered to be a similar type of quarterback to Tebow: great intangibles, but very questionable mechanics and potential to succeed under center rather than in the spread offense.
Well, Cam Newton has already broken several rookie passing records, and is on pace to shatter nearly every rookie record by the time this season is done. Granted, his physical gifts far exceed Tebow's, but the doubts were always on his mechanics—and he has soared in spite of that.
Since Newton has succeeded so mightily, the thought is that Tebow should be able to succeed as well. Had Newton played horribly thus far, Tebow might not have been able to jump from third-string to starter.
Tebow showed us flashes in his three starts last season, and a spark appeared in the listless Denver Broncos offense during the second half of their Week 5 loss this season, jarring them to a near-comeback with two touchdowns in under five minutes versus the San Diego Chargers.
More importantly, Tebow amazed us all Sunday with some serious late-game heroics. After doing basically nothing for the entire game, he rallied the Denver Broncos from a 15-0 deficit with 3:44 remaining to tie it up; on a quarterback-draw two-point conversion no less—a staple go-to play from his time as a Florida Gator.
Though he had a fumble in the game, Tebow threw no INTs, put up a 13-of-27 performance with 161 passing yards, two touchdowns, and 65 rushing yards. Again, not impressive numbers, but somehow he got the job done anyway.
There is one underrated item and X-factor Tebow has in his corner: the crowd; not just Bronco fans, but a huge contingent of the NFL nation. Never has there been a player who can sell out sections of entire opposing stadiums, and that might change everything for him. The Miami Dolphins sold an extra 20,000 tickets in the Week 7 home game against Denver when Tebow was announced as the starter.
What happens to home-field advantage when a quarter of the stadium is chanting the name of the opposing quarterback?
If anyone doubts his leadership, take a look at the highlight reel from Sunday's game and see how he interacts with his teammates. After the Week 5 loss, during the postgame media storm in the locker room, one Bronco player shouted "Tebow Nation Baby!" as he headed to the showers...think his team might believe in him?
Tebow has plenty of work to do, and he is certainly not the sport's messiah that many fans hope he will be. However, those who believe that Tebow is guaranteed to crash and burn are sorely mistaken. He has the crowd, he has the athleticism, and he has the leadership.
It will be some time before Tebow develops into the quarterback the Broncos need, and there is certainly no guarantee that he ever will.
He has plenty of tests ahead of him, but Sunday's comeback win was a heck of a start.