I envied my wife earlier this week when I asked her if she had heard any of the talk about Tim Tebow. She is usually pretty good at keeping up with the sports world, but somehow, this phenomena had slipped past her.
She's certainly the exception these days, as you cannot turn around without someone giving you their opinion on the Denver Broncos quarterback. ESPN is running wall-to-wall Tim Tebow these days, FOXSports.com has devoted an entire section of their website to "Tebowmania," and a mention of Tebow on Twitter or on the radio sets off a storm of replies both for and against the unorthodox QB. Tebow talk has manged to even push the Penn State and Syracuse sex abuse cases off of some of the local sports radio programs.
If you're tired of hearing about Tim Tebow by this point, I don't blame you. Any topic, no matter how initially compelling, gets old when it is beaten into the ground day after day. But I urge you to resist the notion to blame Tebow for the circus, instead, place the blame where it belongs - on the media.
Coming into this Sunday's game with the Patriots, the Broncos have won six games in a row with Tebow starting, and seven of eight. The media are the ones debating whether Tebow is solely responsible for the Broncos' turnaround. They are the ones anointing him or condemning him, and they're stirring up the public as well. They're the ones speculating that Tebow's teammates must be jealous or resentful of him taking all the credit for the team's success.
However, if you've watched the Broncos at all this season, or watched their press conferences or locker room interviews or the Sound FX special this week on NFL Network, you realize that Tebow takes none of the credit for the team's success. He clarifies any statements about "another Tebow comeback" as "another Denver Broncos comeback" and repeatedly gives credit to his teammates and defense for the success of the team. Yes, he repeatedly thanks his Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and talks often about trying to honor the Lord with how he plays, but he also talks about working hard and trying to get better as a quarterback.
The religious aspect turns some people off, there's no doubt about that. His positive attitude, relentlessness and sense of humor should turn many more on. The Broncos are being compared by some to the 2001 Patriots, and I think that is an apt comparison. You've got a strong defense couple with a solid running game and a young quarterback who does not turn the ball over and makes just enough plays to get the job done each week. Tom Brady was dismissed as a slow, weak-armed "system" quarterback with a limited ceiling. He's come quite a ways since that time.
The biggest criticism of Tebow as a player has been his throwing style and accuracy - admittedly big things when you're a quarterback. At the moment, the success of the Broncos is coming in a college-style option offense, heavy on the running ability of Tebow. Whether this is a flash-in-the-pan "wildcat" type success or not, at some point Tebow is going to have to improve his throwing. Can he?
CBS' Phil Simms, who along with Jim Nantz will call Sunday's Patriots/Broncos game says that by far Tebow is "the biggest story. It’s everywhere. And rightly so because so many people said he couldn’t do it and I think they are seeing a big transformation right before [their] eyes. As I watch him each week – you know I love this – all the ex-quarterbacks say that you can’t change the way you throw. Who made that rule? …Look at all the quarterbacks in the league that have gotten better as they’ve stayed in it. And the biggest one of all, Aaron Rodgers, look how he changed. I’m watching Tim Tebow definitely throwing the football better."
Simms was talking on Showtime's Inside The NFL, yet another program this week that devoted significant time to Tebow. You can expect plenty more in the next few days, and should the Broncos upset the Patriots on Sunday, there may be no end to it. Maybe Tebow and the Broncos will be the team to knock off the undefeated Green Bay Packers in the Super Bowl.
Yikes, can you imagine the media hype for THAT Super Bowl matchup? Just don't blame Tim Tebow. Blame the media. A good rule of thumb in any instance, but especially so in this case.