Tim Tebow: Until He Proves Otherwise, Tebow Is Nothing but a Glorified Backup

Zachary D. Rymer@zachrymerMLB Lead WriterMarch 5, 2011

OAKLAND, CA - DECEMBER 19:  Tim Tebow #15 of the Denver Broncos stands on the sideline during their game against the Oakland Raiders at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum on December 19, 2010 in Oakland, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Tim Tebow May Be a Fan Favorite, But the Hype Is Starting to Get Old

When it comes to contemporary sports superstars, there are really only a handful of players that have the kind of star power to turn even the most minor occurrences into headline news. To rattle just a few names off the top of my head, the best headline generators at work today are people like Tiger Woods, LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, Alex Rodriguez and Tom Brady.

As you may have surmised from the title of this humble little column, another is Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow. Like the quintet of stars that I just named, Tebow is just as a much a rock star as he is a professional athlete. But what makes him different is the fact that he has yet to prove himself at the professional level.

Unless you’re a steadfast Tebow hater (and for whatever reason, there are quite a few of these), I suppose this is not something that is worth getting up in arms about. And this is true. Nevertheless, it dawned on me while I was reading the Tebow headlines that things have finally gone too far.

To give you an idea what I’m talking about, here are a couple of the headlines:

"Tim Tebow reveals type of underwear he prefers in radio interview (video)"

"Tebow Will Workout in Arizona If There's a Lockout"

"Tebow draws Gator Nation to Honda Classic"

If I may be so bold as to summarize these three headlines in one much more befitting the lack of substance in the news itself, it would be something like this:

“Tim Tebow does/says something!”

Basically, it has dawned on me that Tim Tebow is, at long last, a tabloid hero. This is something I can abide when the athlete in question is somebody like Tiger, LeBron, or A-Rod. But it’s an honor (if you can call it that) that I personally don’t think Tebow has earned.

To clarify, this is hardly Tebow’s fault. In fact, I don’t even think the press deserves that much blame. After all, the idea is to give people what they want, and the demand for all things Tim Tebow has been there for quite a while now.

The reason for this is not very difficult to determine. Tebow had an absolutely brilliant career at the University of Florida, winning a Heisman Trophy and two BCS National Championships, and he holds numerous records. There are plenty of people who think of him as the greatest quarterback in the history of college football, and they are certainly not wrong to think so.

Of course, while Tebow is definitely a good player, he is also a good human being. And this is a large part of his overall appeal. Few people, it seems, so easily manage to pack so much humility and an unwavering sense of morality into a package that is just so damned All-American. Because of this, he represents a rather welcome departure from other modern-day athletes that have played such a huge part in molding the face of what could easily be called the “look at me” generation.

When Tebow was preparing to enter the NFL in 2010, it was really hard to get a beat on where he might go in the draft. The general thinking, however, was that he did not have the goods to be a first round talent, and there was no shortage of pundits who looked at his NFL future and didn’t see anything to get excited about.

No matter where he went when Draft Day rolled around, one thing we did know for sure was that the amount of hype surrounding Tebow would still be considerable. After all, he hailed from one of the major powerhouse schools in a conference that is chock full of them. Fans of the SEC generally treat it as God’s special gift to the world. In turn, Tebow represented the conference’s own gift to the world, and one to be grateful for at all costs.

It just so happened that the Denver Broncos rolled the dice on Tebow with the No. 25 pick in the draft, a move that shocked quite a few people. By the time Broncos camp began, Tebow’s jersey was already the highest-selling jersey in the league, and there was a rather loud public outcry for then-head coach Josh McDaniels to give him the keys to the controls right away. And because McDaniels was more or less the only guy in the NFL that seemed to believe in Tebow, it was apparent that this was going to happen sooner rather than later.

Ironically, Tebow’s first NFL start came two weeks after McDaniels was given the boot. He ended up starting each of Denver’s last three games, and he did pretty well. He had two brilliant scoring plays in his debut against the Oakland Raiders, a 300-yard passing game against the Houston Texans, and he piled up a total of seven touchdowns.

Because of this, there is not a doubt in my mind that some of Tebow’s more ardent supporters are going to flood the comment section of this piece with remarks about how he has indeed proven himself, and that one need look no further than those three games.

If this were the case, you have to think that new head coach John Fox would have had no qualms whatsoever about naming Tebow his starting quarterback for the 2011 season, and that he would make the decision official by shipping Kyle Orton out of town. He seems to have no such plans, and the fact of the matter is that a recent report from NFL.com that members of the Denver front office are looking to distance themselves from Tebow seems much more convincing than the follow-up report that this is not true.

Long story short, until further notice, Tebow is nothing more than a glorified backup.


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