Does this column have your attention now? Chances are you are pulled in just by the headline. It is hard to utter the name without starting controversy
and feelings of love and hate for the quarterback of the Denver Broncos. No
matter what is said on television or predicted by the experts, No. 15 always has
the full attention of football fans everywhere.
Since the infancy of this NFL season, there has been a
debate throughout Colorado and the United States on who the Broncos should start at
quarterback. Should it be Kyle Orton, the veteran quarterback and starter of the
last two years? Or should it be Tim Tebow, the sophomore sensation that has almost
a cult following – and “Tebowing”?
Through Orton’s two-plus-year career starting for the
Broncos, the quarterback was an unimpressive 12-28. This year, new Denver head
coach John Fox decided to give Orton the nod for the starting role again,
burying Tebow in the depth chart to the three spot. After Orton led the Broncos
to a 1-3 start, fans in Colorado were growing restless for a change.
You could hear it on national television. Even during week
one, where Orton and the Broncos lost at home to the Raiders, fans were
chanting for Tebow to replace Orton in the fourth quarter. These fans were
cheering for a player to replace the quarterback in week one of their season.
Three weeks later, Orton was yanked for the fan favorite.
But what is it about this player that makes him so loved and
rooted for? Why do his fans love him in an almost unparalleled and devoted way?
Why did Tebow’s autobiography reach No. 22 on the Amazon Best Seller list?
How did Tebow’s jersey become one of the best-selling in the league before he
even played a down?
“Tebowmania” can be explained by Tebow’s accomplishments and
legacy before the big time. During his collegiate career at Florida, Tebow won
two national championships, the Heisman Trophy as a sophomore (the first ever to do so), two Maxwell awards, a Davey O’Brien award and Sports Illustrated’s
“College Football Player of the Decade.” He also gave one of the greatest
post-game press speeches in history.
Besides the success on the field, Tebow is a winner and
humanitarian off the field, as the quarterback has performed missionary work in
the Philippines, Croatia and Thailand, as well as assisting his father’s
orphanage in the Philippines. When reading, watching and learning about Tebow,
it is hard not to become a fan.
But some dislike Tebow with almost the same passion of his
fans that adore him.
With an unorthodox throwing motion and a large portion of
his collegiate career spent taking snaps from the shotgun and not under center,
many doubted that Tebow could succeed in the professional game. Tebow also has
an NFL career completion rate less than 50 percent, which critics have so
nicely referenced over and over.
Regardless, it does not matter what other people say.
Whether the Broncos are winning because of Tebow or despite him, it
does not matter as long as there is a “W” in the win-loss column, as Denver currently
sits one game back from first place in the AFC West.
It is understandable Tebow needs to come a long way to be a
mainstay in the NFL. But the right way to examine the issue is to look at
Tebow’s limited playing time through his short career and understand that he is
indeed a work in progress.
This Sunday will mark only his seventh start in two seasons.
But even with six full starts sprinkled over two seasons, Tebow has looked
progressively better every week, much to the delight of fans and much to the
grumblings of his haters.
Last week, Tebow completed 10 of his 21 passes (not so good)
for two touchdowns (good) and ran for 118 yards on the ground (very good). The
Broncos finally adapted to Tebow’s game, putting the quarterback in the shotgun
and bringing the option-read back to the NFL for the first time since the
Mesozoic era. Yes, this performance was only against the Raiders, but the fact
that Tebow is improving and has the team competing for a playoff spot at the
halfway point of the season after a 1-4 start is encouraging.
The division Tebow and the Broncos have to win is the
pitiful AFC West, where the San Diego Chargers, the Oakland Raiders and the
Kansas City Chiefs are all tied for first place with a 4-4 record. This makes
the stat of one game out of first look a bit bland, but as long as Tebow and the
Broncos keep finding ways to win, the critics will fall on deaf ears.
Also, how you win on the field does not matter. Teams do not make
the playoffs based on how great their wins look. Just ask last year’s Seattle
Seahawks, who won the NFC West with a 7-9 record and upset the New Orleans
Saints in the first round of the playoffs.
The argument surrounding Tebow is based on a conflict that has existed long before he entered the NFL Draft. Who is a better player to have on a team: someone with great
talent who lacks that special drive to win, or someone with average talent who
indeed possesses the incredible drive to win?
As we all know in our everyday lives, talent goes a long way
for success. But sometimes what athletes and others fail to perceive is that
talent can only take you so far. It is not pure talent in the end that
determines success; it is the extensive hard work that a person does to hone and
perfect that talent until they are winners and among the best.
This is why fans love Tebow and the reason he can succeed.
Society loves an underdog, a man with a heart of gold who is not the most
talented, but rises above it with determination and hard work. It is almost
reminiscent of the American Dream.
Movies have been made on this principle; sports have
legendary players who embody this idea and every kid who was not born naturally
with gifts of ability dreams of being someone like Tim Tebow. Tebow’s career
and character make us all want to drive to be the best at whatever it is we
choose to do.
And that is the reason there is a Tim Tebow in all of us.
Nick is a senior
majoring in English and history. What are your thoughts on Tebow? Do you sometimes
find yourself ‘Tebowing?’ Let him know at firstname.lastname@example.org.