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Tim Tebow: Great? Or Greatest?

Scott Cunningham, Getty Images

Polarizing.  Electrifying.  Wretchedly Awful.  Scintillatingly Brilliant.  He’s the truth and he’s a lie, in the same game.  And he’s as fun a story as I’ve seen in a long time.

Tim Tebow is one of the biggest long-shots in professional sports today.  Hell, his NFL career is the biggest underdog story since David took down Goliath.  In fact, he may be more of an underdog – no one ever complained that the release on David’s sling-shot was too slow.  But let’s be honest, the prognosticators are right to peg Tebow the dark-horse.  The man is an awful quarterback. He’s awful.  I mean, he is God.  Awful.  He’s the only quarterback in the league whose throwing motion could be most appropriately timed by an analog clock that has no second hand.  He’s woefully inaccurate – and not Rex Grossman inaccurate, he’s invented a new style.  Tim Tebow is so wild, his ball is so untrue, he misses wide receivers by so much he can’t even throw interceptions.  He’s missing his receivers, he’s missing defensive backs, he’s missing water from atop the Ark!

And yet.  The man is a brilliant quarterback.  He’s brilliant.  I mean, he is simply.  Brilliant.  Defying all reasoning and logic, and defying the momentum of three and a half quarters of football, this quarterback – who’s five feet nothing, a hundred and nothing, and who has hardly a speck of athletic ability (Okay, so that’s Rudy Reuttiger.  Whatever, my point stands) – won’t be stopped.  He’s not conventional.  I mean, he runs the option and won a game while going just two for eight passing.  TWO FOR EIGHT!  Those kinds of numbers aren’t even seen in the worst Army-Navy game.  Still, the dude runs with a fury and conviction rarely seen from a quarterback; and without the benefit of an arm that can throw a ball more than ten yards without it nose-diving into the ground, Tebow comes alive in the clutch and wins.  He wins!  No one has any freaking idea how he does it, but Tebow just.  Plain.  Wins.

It defies explanation.  Even the most brilliant football mind is at a loss.  Vince Lombardi, you’re a brilliant football mind.  Your thoughts?

That seems about right.  I mean, c’mon.  How do you make sense of a man having this much success when the only elite part of his game is his iron will – a resolve that is matched only by that of Sly Stallone in Rocky IV?  For God’s sake, the man is running an offense that hasn’t been affective since 1946.  So why can’t defenses stop him? Why is this Mile High Messiah racking up the wins?  Many of the talking heads would bumble their way through a dissertation on how the option is a tricky offense to defend because it’s so rare.  And that’s true, no one runs it.  There’s a report out there that defensive coordinators have had to resort to watching tape of their local Pop Warner leagues in preparation (That report hasn’t been confirmed…Nor has it been reported…I just made it up).  Others would say that it’s that same iron will that makes him a “winner.”  Still, others would claim it a more supernatural phenomenon, that the Holy Trinity is behind the absurdity.  And how can you argue with that?  Can you possibly tell me that the Holy Ghost wasn’t behind the game winning kick in overtime in Miami?  That damn thing would have been good from eighty.

Garrett Ellwood, Getty Images

Frankly, I like to think – not because it’s true, just because it’s fun – that it’s the iron will thing.  I loved that Rocky ended the Cold War just because he wanted to and I love that Tebow wins games simply because he’d rather not lose.  Forget schemes.  Forget game plans.  Forget fundamentals.  15 chooses to win.  So often, however, when I hear the pundits debating why Tebow is succesful, and whether his success can last I find myself saying, “Who cares?  Can’t we just bask in the warm glow of Tebow’s glory?”  I know I should, but I don’t really care how he’s doing it.  I don’t really care if he can be successful for years to come.  I’m just enjoying the ride on this most mind-bending roller coaster.

And why shouldn’t I?  Why shouldn’t we all?  We spend so much time bemoaning the fact that so many athletes are selfish or rude.  Now we’ve finally been given one that, by all accounts, is the greatest human being to ever live, but what do we do?  We spend our time picking apart every single facet of his game, explaining how it’s all just a clever rouse and how it’s a matter of time until he fails.  Why?  Why can’t we root for this guy?  We find room in our hearts to root for guys who have been arrested for drugs and spousal abuse.  We root for a man who was implicated in the torture and murder of dogs.  We root for a man with such glaring lack of judgement that he tucked a handgun into his sweatpants and shot himself in the leg.  He tucked a handgun.  Into his sweatpants…Ugh.  As I write this I’m watching Dante Stallworth catch passes to huge cheers from the Redskins faithful.  Dante Stallworth killed a guy.  He drunkenly got behind the wheel of a car and killed a man, yet we say nothing of him and pick apart Tim Tebow.  Why?  Is it just because he’s the least fundamentally sound quarterback in the NFL? Or is it something deeper?  Is he too pious?  Is he too nice?  Do we finally have an athlete that does it the right way too much?

Garrett Ellwood, Getty Images

Whatever the reason, if you’re suffering from Tebow hate I suggest you let it slide and find a way to get on board the love train.  Not because he’ll be an elite quarterback for years to come, but because he plays the game the way you’ve always said you would if you had that chance.  He doesn’t take plays off, he doesn’t complain that his seven figure salary isn’t enough, dude just shows up and works his ass off.  You don’t like that he thanks God?  Get over it.  Be happy that he doesn’t thank his hands for being so great (*see Freddie Mitchell).

Look, we all know Tim Tebow isn’t the protypical quarterback.  And we pretty much all know that Tim Tebow isn’t really a good quarterback.  But when it counts Brother Tim is one of the most electrifying players in the NFL, and when it counts, Brother Tim takes his team on his back and by way of sheer effort pulls them to victory.  That right there is enough.  Add in the fact that he does it all while being the man that he is?  That’s something special to me.   I’ll be watching and rooting for as long as he’s playing.

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