By Carlos Nazario,
This week football fans are making their choices for the Divisional Round playoff games. One choice many of them never thought they would have to make is in the AFC, where the top-seeded New England Patriots take on the upstart Denver Broncos. Those same people are also completely dumbfounded as to how this matchup has occurred.
The Broncos are led by their charismatic quarterback, Tim Tebow. He has been a lightning rod of high emotions for both detractors and defenders alike.
Tebow plays football the way coaches want their players to play-he gives his all on EVERY play. He is not the biggest quarterback, but he uses every ounce of ability he has in his body. His dedication and love for football cannot be denied.
Tebow has been a phenomenon this season. He has only completed 46.5% of his passes, and has thrown for only 1729 yards. He has had 13 fumbles. He has also had a six game winning streak, five 4th quarter comebacks, and six game winning drives. His record as a starter is a good one, 7-4.
Tebow is not the best quarterback, but he is not the worst one, either. So why is there such a polarization when it comes to him?
The first reason for the Tebow backlash is that his admirers leave no room for any criticism. If you say one word that is not complimentary of Tebow you are branded a “hater” much the way many Miami Heat fans think of their team’s critics.
When someone mentions that his mechanics are way off on his throws or that his accuracy is just not very good, his defenders commence the attack-none of that matters if he just wins. I agree that winning is a priority, but if he cannot do some of the basic things, that success will be short term. Bringing up his negatives does infinitely more for his improvements than just telling him he is great. Believe me, being the hard worker Tebow is, he would appreciate the negative and use that to get better. In fact, he has a commercial in which he says exactly that. He has thick skin people, he can take the criticisms.
A second reason for the Tebow backlash is how his devotees talk up his positives almost to a Saint-like level. Yes, Tebow is a great guy who does things the right way. I love that about him. Tebow lovers talk up Tebow as if there are no athletes like him. He is not the only athlete who is like that, however. There are plenty around who have been model citizens AND have had great success as well. Drew Brees IS New Orleans and he has a Super Bowl. Derrick Rose is a great kid; he does not take credit for his play, is a hometown kid, and is the reigning NBA MVP. The model athlete who is also the model citizen exists outside of Tim Tebow.
Speaking of Saint-like treatment brings me to a third reason for Tebow backlash. Tebow wears his faith on his sleeve, which is not a problem except when he is elevated above others because of it. There are plenty of athletes who are as faithful to their religion as Tebow is to his, yet when Tebow wins it is because of his faith. Athletes have gone down to their knees and bow their heads before and after key plays in games for decades. Now it is called Tebowing. What are the members of the Church of Tebow trying to say-that God loves Tebow more than he loves the other football players? It would be silly to think that, no?
The biggest reason that makes Tim Tebow such a polarizing figure is the way his supporters portray the Denver Broncos’ success. When the Broncos win, it is because Tebow willed them to victory. When the Broncos lose, then the defense was horrible or the receivers did not do their jobs.
The fourth quarter has generally been renamed “Tebow time” because of the comebacks. Well if we look at some of those comeback games we can notice a pattern. There was a comeback against the Miami Dolphins that ended at 18-15 in overtime. There was another one against the New York Jets that ended at 17-13. There was another comeback against the San Diego Chargers that ended 16-13, and finally one against the Chicago Bears 13-10.
In those games, the defense allowed an average of about 12 points per game. Sorry, but if the defense is that stingy, you SHOULD win games, and they should not be that close. Also, in those games, Matt Prater, the Broncos kicker, played a critical part in getting those wins. In the game against the Bears alone, he connected on a 59 yard field goal to tie the game, and then hit a 51 yarder to win it. In the Wild Card playoff game against the Pittsburgh Steelers, Tebow actually threw the ball behind receiver Demaryius Thomas, but Thomas was able to reach back and make the catch. He then gave the Steelers’ defender a vicious stiff-arm to free himself up for the score.
A team wins or loses together. Yes, there are superstars who make big plays, but they do not make those plays alone. Giving one player, especially a player like Tebow who basically has been playing mediocre football, really infuriates other players. They understand how difficult it is to win and to just chalk it up to “Tebow willing the team to win” is just shortsighted.
Tebow has completed 46.5% of his passes for 1729 yards. He gets the attention, and some have even said he deserves some MVP votes. Cam Newton, quarterback for the Carolina Panthers, completed 60% of his passes for 4051 yards. He replaced future hall of famer Peyton Manning for most yards by a rookie, and replaced current hall of famer Gayle Sayers for most touchdowns by a rookie (35). This is a great accomplishment to go with winning a Junior College National Title and BSC National Title in consecutive years. Newton, however, cannot even make it to the Pro Bowl and is still called by Tebowites as Tebow’s back up in Florida.
Alex Smith, of the San Francisco 49ers, has had a remarkable year. He has had some tough seasons and before this one many thought he would get cut or traded. What did he do? He led his team to a 13-3 record. His previous coach did not have confidence in him, and the fans and “experts” did not have confidence in him either. He turned his career around, yet is anyone talking about Smith getting MVP votes?
Tim Tebow is a great person and role model for kids, but do we need to change him and the rules because of it? In a game against the Patriots, Tebow scored a touchdown and took off his helmet. That is a 15 yard penalty, yet no call. During the Super Bowl two years ago, he was allowed to make an anti-abortion ad, yet a group that supported alternative lifestyles was not allowed, even though they did everything necessary to get the ad on the air.
I will be considered one of the haters, and some may curse me (ironic that TEBOW supporters would curse his detractors), but I do like Tebow. His work ethic is what I point out to my nephew, who has played football for two years now. All the effort in the world cannot help you if you do not have the talent to play at the highest level. At this point he has not shown that ability. Can he work hard and do it? Sure he can. That is what I want to see. He has a lot of room for improvement before we anoint him anything. An 8-8 season and backing into the playoffs does not translate to a good season or to a good career. I want to see him have a good season and be productive over a period of time. Is that so much to ask?