In a sports world filled with professional narcissists living for nothing more than six points, a tediously planned celebration and a bigger contract, something can be said for an athlete who truly plays for the love of the game.
Tim Tebow is that and more.
The seemingly unending harem of Tebow lovers is proof enough of that—even if most don’t realize why they’re a part of the group. True fans gravitate toward the former Florida Gator because they want him to succeed for the sake of the NFL. Arguments from those who derive opinions from statistics in a comparison-free vacuum notwithstanding, I believe he’ll do just that.
He has an unconventional throwing motion—this is not a debate. However, what is a debate is the fact that his delivery should never have been touched, period. Fundamentally sound quarterbacks are well and good, but I’m pretty sure Ryan Leaf, David Carr and JaMarcus Russell had beautiful deliveries—all No. 1 overall picks—and I wouldn’t exactly describe their careers as “successful.”
A man who also played his college ball in Florida at the University of Miami, Bernie Kosar, had a delivery most would describe as sidearm at best. He was also a player known for his character and drive. His most notable record was broken last season by Tom Brady—308 consecutive passes without an interception.
Maybe a conventional delivery isn’t everything.
The next comparison would be the most obvious, Steve Young. Tebow has similar size and skills as Young, with Tebow being a bit more mobile and Young more accurate. Young, a seven-time Pro Bowler, three time Super Bowl winner and NFL and Super Bowl MVP, set the mold for mobile quarterbacking before retiring due to concussions.
However, there is one point in his career that most don’t bother to remember—that would be his 1-4 record as a starter in 1985—the first five starts of his career. Tebow just completed his fifth career start Sunday in a 45-10 trouncing by the Lions. He’s 2-3 in that span.
Does this mean he will be better than Young? No way, but it certainly doesn’t mean he will be any worse either.
Numbers mean a lot to analysts, but early-career statistics—unless your name is Cam Newton, apparently—is not a fair way to evaluate any player. This is especially true when considering that Broncos ownership has about as much interest in Tebow succeeding as I have in an a cappella group. It’s appreciated when it’s good, but in the end the conventional instruments win out.
At this point in Tebow’s career, much like Young’s, we should evaluate on merit, passion and quality. The ability to rally a team is a skill that some of the most fundamental, statistical gems at the quarterback position so frequently lack.
Tebow has it, and he’ll win with it.