Tim Tebow: How Legends Begin

DENVER - DECEMBER 26: Quarterback Tim Tebow #15 of the Denver Broncos jumps into the arms of his offensive linemen J.D. Walton #50 and Ryan Harris #74 after his game winning six yard bootleg touchdown run in the fourth quarter against the Houston Texas at INVESCO Field at Mile High on December 26 2010 in Denver Colorado. The Broncos defeated the Texans 24-23. (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

When I originally began writing this post, it was titled, "Where has the Mile High Magic Gone?". That was back in September and I shelved the post because I couldn't find an answer to the question posed in that title. Last weekend, Tim Tebow helped me find the answer. An answer so simple that it was easily overlooked as I tried to find a more complicated cause. The answer is belief. Belief in the magic. From the quarterback, to the rest of the players and, ultimately, to the fans.

Mile High Magic isn't some mystical aura that ensures the Broncos snatch victory from the clutches of defeat; no, it is people who believe that they will be led to victory. It takes a unique person to embody that belief within the minds of other players and fans. John Elway had that kind of effect on people and now, it appears, Tim Tebow may have that effect on people as well.

If you listen to the local Denver media, as well as the national media at large, you will notice plenty of downplaying of Tebow's performance last week. With good measure, two games is hardly the kind of measuring stick great players are made of, but I recall how the media treated Jay Cutler during his first few starts and I begin to wonder...Where was the magic during Cutler's five game rookie season?

Well, let's review the stats first.

2006 Jay Cutler Game Stats
Week OPP. OPP.
Record
Score Comp Att Comp
%
Yards TD INT Rush
Yds
Rush
TD
13 SEA 9-7 L 20-23 10 21 47.6 143 2 2 10 0
14 SD 14-2 L 20-48 17 30 56.7 188 2 0 0 0
15 ARI 5-11 W 37-20 21 31 67.7 261 2 1 10 0
16 CIN 8-8 W 24-23 12 23 52.2 179 2 1 -1 0
17 SF 7-9 L 23-26 21 32 65.6 230 1 1 -1 0
2010 Tim Tebow Game Stats
Week OPP. OPP.
Record
Score Comp Att Comp
%
Yards TD INT Rush
Yds
Rush
TD
15 OAK 7-8 L 23-39 8 16 50.0 138 1 0 78 1
16 HOU 5-10 W 24-23 16 29 55.2 308 1 1 27 1

 

I don't know about you, but those are pretty wimpy stats. Actually, they are the kind of stats you'd expect from a rookie quarterback. There is more to this story, however, that cannot simply be explained away by statistical comparison. First, Tebow had his first boneheaded interception last week, but in the grand scheme of things, was it as boneheaded as Jay Cutler's first interception against the Seattle Seahawks?  Yeah, you all probably recall that one. Cutler was about to get sacked, so he just chucked the ball up into the air where it was promptly plucked and returned for a touchdown.

I don't recall people hammering Cutler for it. We got the, "He's just doing what rookie do, he'll be fine". Of course, they were partly right as Cutler is a solid starting quarterback, if a bit of a head case. The point I am hammering at is that Tebow appears to have a large portion of the media that are reluctant to grade him the same way any other first round, first time starting, quarterback would be graded. This perplexes me.

The big thing that stats doesn't quite cover, and what the premise of this post is all about, is how certain personality types are able to inspire people to live up to their full potential. For example, whenever you see John Elway talk about how he was able to win so many games in the final minutes, you never see him talk about himself or what he did, rather you hear him talk about the other guys on his team. Elway may have been the reason the Broncos won, but it was because he was able to inspire his teammates to believe not only in his own ability, but their own ability. I saw something similar in Tebow and all it took for what I saw in him to become what his teammates see in him was to do what he did last weekend. To lead his team to victory.

Think back to the final five games of 2006 and remember how the Broncos blew a golden opportunity to walk into the wild card. I wouldn't blame the losses on Jay Cutler, but he led his team to those defeats when he had two opportunities to lead them to victory. He would do it again in 2008. Kyle Orton did it late in 2009 and again in 2010. It's not just the fans that can sense these things, the teammates of these quarterbacks sensed it too. The magic was gone because the man leading the charge didn't inspire it.

The magic never left the Mile High city; people just stopped believing in it. Last week, we got a taste of that magic and it tasted good. I have not felt that way since the AFC Divisional playoffs in 2005. Is this how Tebow's legend begins? Or will it be a blip, an anomaly on what will become a forgettable football career? Tim Tebow has surely gotten off on the right foot and a win this weekend will only help continue his rise to greatness. As a fan, I am certain of only one thing - I will never again lose hope during a game until that clock runs down to zero-zero.

Go Broncos!

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