You either love or hate Tim Tebow. There is no middle ground on the scruffy Florida grad with the long, sidearm delivery who can't seem to hit a receiver in stride to save his life. And yet, the Broncos are 4-1 in 2011 with Tebow at the helm.
For the longest time I was in the "hate him" camp. Tebow and I have a long history, beginning with his whooping my high school football team in the state semifinals when I was a junior. I watched from the sidelines as defenders hung off of Tebow and the future Gator was still able to chuck the ball 40 yards down the field for a go-ahead score. Much to my chagrin, he lived up to the hype.
As I was travelling to college, Tebow was beginning his sophomore season at a rival school down the road and for the next three years I was, as was everyone else in the nation, subject to the college football sensation that was Tim Tebow: every jump pass, every trophy, every speech, every bronze statue.
I couldn't stand the guy. Every touchdown seemed arrogant and every interview and ESPN feature seemed self-righteous. As rivals, my classmates and I delighted when Tebow cried as he watched Alabama win the 2009 SEC Championship, and indeed, throughout his collegiate career, we took great joy in even the smallest of his failures.
But then Tebow joined the NFL and suddenly I had no tangible reason to root against him and ridicule for the sake of ridicule makes one look like a fool. His name would occasionally crop up in the crawl on SportsCenter and I would moan with distaste.
As a fan of football, I was bewildered that a mediocre quarterback was getting so much attention and in fact wrote an article entitled The Myth of Tim Tebow about how his poor mechanics and inability to read a defense wouldn't make it in the NFL.
Flash forward to last night and I'm nailed to my couch like a high school girl during a season finale of Grey's Anatomy. I was absolutely fascinated that Tebow's shortcomings as a quarterback were glaringly obvious and yet No. 15 engineered a 95-yard touchdown drive in the fourth quarter against a Jets defense that prides itself on toughness and couldn't seem to figure out the zone read.
Yes, that would be the same zone read that had "no chance" against a NFL defense and I couldn't help but chuckle to myself as the NFL Network cut to Rex Ryan after Tebow's touchdown. The man looked at a loss and even threw his hands up as if to say, "I don't even know what just happened."
A buddy of mine messaged me after the game and asked me, "I find myself rooting for Tim Tebow. Am I sick?"
I wondered the same thing. I despised this guy for the longest time, but now it almost seems childish to do so. You can certainly criticize his throwing ability (or lack thereof) but you can't criticize the results.
The fact of the matter is this: In a sports world that is growing increasingly dark, Tebow is becoming easier and easier to root for. He's a feel good story, a guy who wasn't supposed to make it in the pros and is defying all odds, a player that put the team on his back in the fourth quarter last night and carried them to victory.
In short, the guy is a hero.
I think this is why people are waning in their distaste for Tebow. More than their need for someone to root against, they need someone to root for. People need a hero right now.
They need to be reminded that in the face of the villains of the sports world, in defiance of the lockouts and the scandals and the contract holdouts, there is Tebow: a guy who isn't making any promises, isn't talking any trash and, against all odds, is getting the job done.
Is Tebow the answer in Denver? Will his success last through December, into January? I can't answer any of those questions right now.
I just know that I, along with all of you, will be watching. But instead of rooting for his cape to get caught in an escalator, this time around, I'd rather see him succeed.
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