Tebow is one of the most weirdly polarizing figures in the NFL. It’s weird, because he’s never been arrested, never gotten a DUI, never been accused of slapping a woman. He’s polarizing because he’s extremely religious (and belongs to a very conservative sect), and because his most rabid fans worship him as the second coming of Jesus (an exaggeration — but not by much).
Last week, I was actually shocked at the venom I heard on TV talk shows being directed at Tebow. It was some of the most scathing, withering invective I’ve ever heard flung at any athlete — I didn’t hear a couple of quarterbacks who murdered dogs and were accused of terrible acts in a bar bathroom catch the amount of flak Tebow was catching.
He had a terrible game against a team with a good defence — Detroit. He was ripped down one side and up the other; he was called awful, horrible, an embarrassment. Commentators said he had no business being in the NFL and worse . One commenter, a guy I usually despise named Skip Bayless, said the hatred toward Tebow was bordering on pathological. It might be the one and only time I ever agree with Skip Bayless. At a certain point, this doesn’t have anything to do with football anymore — it has to do with annoyance over his public displays of faith and annoyance with his rabid fans. (An interesting column about that here.)
Well, what I’m hearing is the haters appear to be JUST as rabid. They are simply feeding the frenzy that is Tebow by turning him into a martyr … and hard core conservative Christians absolutely LOVE martyrs. We live in Bronco territory and I’m still trying to find a Bronco fan that doesn’t literally despise Tebow. I mean literally HATE him. I haven’t found one yet!
What did Tebow do Sunday? He started terrible, but then finished 4-for-5 for 55 yards, threw 2 TDs, ran for 117 yards, had no INTs, and had 240 yards of total offence — and brought his team back from being down 17-7 to win 38-24 (It will be interesting what his haters have to say this week.). Tebow has started a total of six games and is 3-3 as a starter. Denver was 1-4 without him and is 2-1 with him and suddenly they’re in a playoff chase. In a weird way I find myself cheering for him, as much as I am uncomfortable with his conservative brand of religion (but, hey, it’s America, right? He can worship who he wants, however he wants.). I find myself more uncomfortable with the virulent level of hate toward him, hate that seems to be as much if not more about his personal faith than about his play of the field.
I just wonder sometimes if Tebow were a devout Muslim, how some people would feel about some of the vitriol being thrown at him.
Does his latest good game mean he is a good quarterback? No. Does it mean he will be a good quarterback someday? No. He may. He may not. It will probably take a couple of years to know for sure. Should he have been a first-round draft pick? Probably not, but that’s not his fault Denver drafted him too high. What it means is he is raw, inexperienced, has an eccentric throwing motion that may never fit the NFL, but he is not quite as bad as the vitriol being spewed about him. It means he is playing well enough to be given the opportunity to keep playing. How good was John Elway after six games? Steve Young? Michael Vick? Brett Favre?