Fans of Roethlisberger define him with terms such as “man,” “beast” and “epic.” Roethlisberger has earned these descriptors not necessarily through his prowess in the passing game, but mostly due to his toughness displayed on the field.
Tebow has showed toughness since his days at Nease High School in Florida. According to a report by ESPN, Tebow once played the entire half of a game with a broken fibula, including running for a 29-yard touchdown with the injury.
While playing for the Florida Gators in 2009, Tebow took another violent hit during his team’s September 26th game against Kentucky.
Tebow showed toughness from the start, entering the game despite having to play with the flu. Later in that same game, Kentucky defensive end Taylor Wyndham sacked Tebow, and as he fell towards the ground, his head made contact with the leg of then-teammate Marcus Gilbert.
The hit was enough to put Tebow in a Lexington, Ky. hospital bed later that night. But Tebow was able to rebound, coming back a couple of weeks later to lead a Florida win over SEC rival LSU.
Tebow then started his NFL career by both doling out and receiving his fair share of bruises. Last year, he bruised his ribs while powering through Cincinnati defenders for a rushing touchdown in a meaningless preseason game.
At the time, USA Today quoted then-Broncos head coach Josh McDaniels as saying, "I think that's part of his toughness…that's part of his style and that's part of what made him great in college and it's probably what will make him a good player—if that's what he becomes in this league."
Roethlisberger has already cemented his reputation as a tough player. But NFL fans are starting to see from Tebow’s play that he is made from the same stuff, and least in a physical sense.
And lest we forget, Roethlisberger completed only nine passes for 123 yards and a 22.6 quarterback rating in Super Bowl XL, yet will be remembered solely for being a winner in that game. Might the critics go as far as labeling that a “Tebow-esque” performance?
But where Tebow gains a competitive edge over Roethlisberger is in his mental toughness and morally sound behavior off the field.
Tebow has been able to avoid the off-the-field issues that have distracted and embarrassed Roethlisberger and the Steelers organization. At the same time, he has deflected critics of both his play and his Christian religion.
In this sense, it is Tebow who becomes more of a man, and that much more “epic.”