I’m absolutely neutral on the subject of Tim Tebow, but I can say conclusively that nothing he has said so far has pissed me off as much as the people who are arguing about him have.
First of all, Tebow hasn’t yet done anything to justify two — count them, two — Sports Illustrated covers (including this week). Yes, the Broncos are 7-1 since he became their starter, but in only one game during their much published winning streak has Tebow’s offense scored more than 25 points. In four of those games the defense allowed 17 or less and in four games they’ve allowed 13 or fewer. Even an evangelical Denver fans needs to admit that over the last two months the Broncos are winning primarily on defense.
I don’t deny that he is one of the greatest college quarterbacks ever, but like other big guys who could run and throw — Vince Young comes quickly to mind, and though the jury is still out on Cam Newton, who is playing bravely with second rate support in Carolina — he hasn’t gotten past that syndrome of trying to beat everyone with sheer talent. In college, Tebow was almost always more talented than anyone he lined up against. But in the NFL, just about everyone is as talented or nearly as talented as you, and to make it as a pro, he’s going to need to learn the patience to stay in the packet and read opposing defenses.
Sports Illustrated has some interesting stats on Tebow the pro: His pass completion percentage is 48.3% in the first quarter, 33.3% in the second, 35.5% in the third, and 61.3% in the fourth. When told this, Tebow responded, “I guess I gotta get to the stadium and start practicing a little bit earlier.” I don’t know about that, but I am guessing that what happens with the Broncos is that when the offense sputters, as it so often does — Denver failed to produced any points at all in their first 12 possession last Sunday against the Bears — the offensive coaches finally throw up their hands late in the game and say, in effect, “Hey nothing that we’ve tried has worked. Just go ahead and wing it.”
I honestly don’t know why Tebow has been able to do in the fourth period (actually, in the last few minutes of the fourth period) what he hasn’t been able to do in the first three. But I do know that he’d better find a way to start doing it earlier because sooner or later if the Bronco offense keeps going three-and-out he’s going to find himself behind by a lot more than three points late in the game, and then even prayer might not help.
I’m not neutral about Tebow this week — he’s playing against the New England Patriots at Denver, and a Bronco victory could help the Jets. But I’m sick of seeing this guy used as a political football. For instance, last Monday FoxNews.com’s Todd Starnes wrote, “Tim Tebow’s success…has done little to silence his critics, who believe that his faith in Jesus Christ has no business on the football field. It doesn’t matter how many touchdown passes he throws or how many games he wins, because Tebow will always be a lightning rod for anti-Christian bigots.”
Okay, time out. Tebow’s faith doesn’t have any business on the football field. The football field is where you play football. As for Tebow being “a lightning rod for anti-Christian bigots,” Starnes, of course, assumes that anyone who is not a Christian is a bigot, thereby alienating, I would guess, half of Tebow’s potential audience — and avoids the obvious point that what annoys many fans, inlaying some of his own teammates, is not his faith as such but his preaching about it.
Detroit linebacker Stephen Tullock sacked Tebow and then imitated his prayer position — i.e.. kneeling on one knee, head bowed. “Imagine for just a moment if Tebow had been a Muslim. Imagine Tullock sacking the quarterback and then pulling out a prayer rug and offering a mocking prayer toward Mecca. Imagine that.”
Yes, imagine. One wonders what Starnes would write about Tebow if he were a Muslim. Would he still be using him as a club to beat liberals over the head with? BTW, to see how well some liberals do get along with Tim Tebow, check out this interview with Jon Stewart on The Daily Show. Whether or not you share his religion, five Tim Tebow points for backing up his beliefs by doing missionary work with orphans in the Philippines — did Manny Pacquiao miss those kids? Also, more points for stating on national TV that he’s for college players being paid. I call that downright progressive.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on December 16, 2011