A mirage is defined as a natural occurring phenomenon, and is constantly used as a word to describe something that is indeed illusory or deceptive.
The word comes from the Latin root mirare, the same root used for "mirror" and "to admire."
There's countless tales of wanderers, lost in the desert or at sea, who come across what they believe to be their salvation, their saving grace, and ultimately find that the laws of nature and physics have deceived them.
What they see is in fact real—a refraction of light rays bent through the air in front of them—but is in fact never what they believe it to be.
The word is absolutely ideal for the phenomenon that is TebowMania.
Take a look at exactly why TebowMania is nothing more than a mirage.
Before Tim Tebow made his way to a starting position, had you ever heard so much about a back-up quarterback?
Sure, we had talked plenty about sitting starting quarterbacks, but never so much about the guy sitting two spots behind him.
What does Tebow do to the population of the sports world that makes them so crazy and appear so senselessly intoxicated?
Maybe for sports fans, there's a little bit of themselves they saw in Tebow's plight. Or something they wish they could be.
Tebow appears as an imperishable champion to those who have witnessed his attitude and play.
His heroics outweigh his shortcomings on a weekly basis.
He embodies what a champion truly is. Against all odds, and faced with endless adversity and criticism, Tebow finds a way to succeed—not only for himself, but for his team and his followers.
Fans look at Tebow like a mirror and wish they could see at least some part of their own reflection in him.
It's difficult to keep from admiring a pro-life, Heisman Trophy-winning, publicly faithful, national champion who wears his heart on his sleeve and seems to care nothing about what people think of him.
Whether you agree with his beliefs, or oppose his political views, you can't argue that Tebow's ability to have his life, his faith and his convictions on display for the world without blinking an eye is admirable.
Whether we want to, we can't stop looking at Tebow.
Fanatic Tebow followers and adamant Tebow haters alike still tune in for every second of a Tebow discussion on TV or the radio, or to any highlight of the Broncos' quarterback's unlikely winning streak.
Admiration is an emotion excited by a person possessed of high excellence, which is why it's a bit confusing that a player yet to break even standards of mediocrity at a professional level commands as much admiration as Tebow does.
Of course, winning does outweigh statistics on every level. How else did the Baltimore Ravens make Trent Dilfer into someone recognizable?
Since the departure of John Elway—as a quarterback—from the Denver Broncos' organization in 1999, Broncos fans have awaited the second coming of greatness to their beloved franchise.
For years they've wandered in the dark, desolate depths of the NFL's basement and searched without inspired direction for a new leader.
Tebow is to these lost and presumed doomed fans what a tropical oasis would be to a vagrant stumbling over endless, barren sand dunes.
TebowManiacs will pull every stop and make every argument to prove that their new leader is in fact the next generation of Denver football.
The one thing they're more than reluctant to do is let go of this dream and accept anything less than absolute greatness from Tebow and their team.
Only when Tebow's flaws become fully visible—to all—and the veil of this excitement drops will TebowMania truly die down.
It's been said already. I'll say it again.
The four-win streak the Broncos currently find themselves on is a result of many factors other than Tebow's playmaking ability.
Were it not for John Fox and Mike McCoy developing an option offense fit to Tebow's strengths, he would not have the tremendously impressive recent success running the ball.
Were it not for Denver's defensive dominance—now allowing 14 points per game compared to 28 points per game with Kyle Orton—the Broncos could not have outscored opponents like San Diego, Miami and Kansas City.
And were it not for the breakout Come-Back Player of the Year award season that Willis McGahee is currently riding Tebow would not remain so elusive to defenders while also remaining slightly effective in the passing game.
Even without truly accurate passes, Tebow still manages to put up moderate yardage throwing the ball due to the fact that his counterpart McGahee makes the play-action fake a possibility.
It doesn't hurt that he has receivers willing to block all day in hopes of catching that one gratifying touchdown pass to win the game in the final minutes.
Had this offense remained the same as when Orton ran the show, Tebow would have already sunk into the abyss of NFL inferiority and would currently be holding a clipboard for Brady Quinn.
If the support ever runs out for Tebow in Denver's coaching staff and roster, TebowMania will vanish into thin air—replaced by talks of draft stock and future franchise hopefuls.
One of the greatest things for the NFL about Tebow and his fans is that they are portable.
Only one month from the end of the season and five months from the draft, the possibility of Tebow finding a new home on a different team is looming.
It's common belief that John Elway feigns his interest in Tebow becoming the franchise guy for Denver.
If the right deal came along to allow Elway to move his team up the ladder in the draft and acquire a truly traditional pocket-passer to take on the future of this team, he would by all means make a move with Tebow.
What Tebow does best for a team and organization as a whole is sell tickets and gain national interest.
It's clear by the attention paid by fans and media alike to what was a losing team, the skyrocketing ratings on NFL Network's Thursday Night Football, the ridiculous amount of jersey sales and the willingness for an opposing team to host a tribute to a visiting opponent that Tebow wills people to watch, to listen and to spend money.
Any team facing blackouts week by week with a high enough pick in the 2012 draft could offer a deal sweet enough to find Tebow selling tickets for them next year.
TebowManiacs could find that their endless support for Tebow in Denver may not be reciprocated long by the men in charge of his tenure there.
The looks that Tebow gets, the length at which he stays in the spotlight and the proximity that all football viewers get to this gravitational player may eventually mean nothing for him in Denver.
Then it would be up to another organization to fit an entire team to a player who is still struggling to take hold of the more fundamental aspects of a winning NFL quarterback in the modern era.
TebowMania will inevitably prove to be a fleeting cause, a dying trend, a flash in a pan, a mirage.