A couple of days ago Nate Jackson, former Broncos WR/TE, wrote an article that has been well received all across the state of Colorado. For those of you that do not live here, Nate has been on every sports radio station at least once in the past couple of days and is enjoying his own resurgence in popularity thanks to the all-giving popularity that is Tim Tebow.
That article was posted on a fanshot here at MHR, where it was also well received. But as the comments stretched on one of our staffers claimed, perhaps truthfully, that we as a fansite have not been welcoming to contrary opinions in regards to Mr. Tim Tebow. I don't know about you, but I don't ever like to be labeled with people who are unable to handle contrary opinions. I love the debate, but I hate the fight. Once a good debate deteriorates into claims of idiocy on the part of the other I lose all taste for the discussion. To me, this is still football and we are still Broncos fans. We are all family of sorts and every family has its issues. Why does pointing out that I'm an idiot have to come into the discussion? Let's just accept that as fact and move on.
I challenged this staffer to write his own anti-Tebow article and set the example. I then went to sleep on it and decided that I should just own up to the challenge and do it myself. So, challenge accepted. This is my "negative" post on Tebow.
So hand over your kool-aid for a minute because I'm giving you all a big glass of water. Nice, clean, filtered, realistic water.
Credit Where Credit is Due
When I first started writing at MHR I took a few hours to read through some of the most rec'd pieces to get a sense of my audience. For those of you that don't spend much time searching other SB Nation sites you may not realize just how active this fansite is compared to just about every other SB Nation site that represents an NFL team. MHR could easily be the gold standard of fansites under the banner of SB Nation. Trust me, these aren't baseless platitudes trying to rep my own Bronco home. There are, and have been, some impressive staffers and contributors here who have spent countless hours researching and writing for this labor of love. Respect.
One of my favorite posts was an article written by our own John Bena who pretty much spelled out the purpose of this fansite. Bronco fans are a different bunch my friends. We are all over the place and we all come from different backgrounds. It doesn't surprise me at all that we find so many differences to debate. I love the debate. I love the differences of opinion and I would be mortified if I ever came across as so single-minded that I was unwilling to listen to a contrary viewpoint. The key, as Mr. Bena spelled out in his article, is that we keep it respectful and we keep it positive. I'm convinced this is possible, even when talking about the flaws of our own. This is my challenge today. Be nice to me MHR. I took kindergarten twice because I was just too smart the first time.
So with this in mind I have set out to write a "negative" post in positive terms. I'm not looking for a fight, I'm just looking to make a point and spark some discussion. You can be negative while still being positive. The hermaphrodite post is possible.
One of the things that drives me crazy about the Tebow debate is that it is nearly impossible to separate Tim Tebow the person from Tim Tebow the player. In fact, so opposite are the opinions regarding Tebow the person and Tebow the player you will be hard pressed to find people that are willing to admit that they dislike Tim Tebow the person, while there are many willing to say they dislike Tebow the NFL prospect. It's kind of a schitzophrenic relationship. It's much easier to write about and critique players who are both bad players and publicly flawed people.
As such, every "negative" Tebow article written contains the caveat that they love Tim the person, but they just want to address Tim the professional athlete. That caveat is true for this post except that I want to take it a step further. I want to simply cut away Tim Tebow the person out of this discussion, except for this next part. Who Tim Tebow is as a person may have everything to do with the kind of player that he is, but when evaluating the actual play of Tim Tebow it takes nothing away from who he is as a person. It's tough to separate the two, but necessary for my purpose here.
The Tebow Person Debate... And Why I Won't Debate It
The fact is, the world of sports needs role models. I understand that. I totally get that. Tim has been a role model during a time in his life when he should have been allowed the graciousness to screw up and find forgiveness waiting for him at the other end. "It's okay bro, everyone drops an F-bomb now and again. Everyone drinks too much and says embarrassing things at their brother's wedding right?.... right?"
This is not the case for Tim. There is no room for error here. Not for Tim. I know that there are fans at MHR who dislike Tebow for who he is as a person. I actually think it's kind of brave of them to admit it, but in the end my feeling towards that stance is just... whatever. I don't have the energy to argue something so ridiculous.
There are fathers and mothers with sons and daughters who anxiously look to the celebrities in this world to point their children toward and say, be more like them. Do you have any idea how valuable that person is to thousands of young people across the country? Even Diddy understands this problem. It's always easier to be Puff than it is to be Sean. For many, Tim Tebow will be that role model. If you hate him for that, well shame on you and good luck to your kids. Sports needs more Tim Tebows. The world needs more Tim Tebows. That's just the way it is and ask Merrill Hoge, Colin Cowherd, Boomer Esiason, and even Terrell I'll lock you in a fridge and eat the key with a roast beef sandwich Suggs and they will agree with that.
That's not what this negative post is about and I will never approach a Tebow debate that wants to talk about his beliefs, his character, and his choices in regards to morality. If THAT'S the negativity we are talking about, well, there is a world full of people dealing with real life crap that I'd rather talk to than oblige a need to satiate some self-serving moral insecurity.
The fact that what Tebow stands for is somehow confirmed or disproved based on how he plays in the NFL is ridiculous to me. At the end of the day, if Tebow never plays another successful down in his entire career, his life as a person is still one that I will steer my kids to study. Tebow will be a Disney movie in twenty years... count on it. It has nothing to do with the NFL. It has everything to do with Tim as a person. Regardless of how he plays next week, and over the next 11 weeks, it won't matter. That part of his life will always remain intact because people of character in positions of celebrity are so few and so far between that his very existence is proof that it is possible to TRY to be a good person and find success in this world if you are willing to work for it. Respect.
Does this make me a rabid Tebow fan? Hell yes it does. I'm a fan of people who stand up for something in a society that ridicules a person for having values, whatever they are. I'm guessing that's true for many of you as well. But the rest of this post has nothing to do with that. This is just 1300 words of caveat. Take it or leave it. It's just the truth. Carve that side of Tebow away. I've said my piece.
The Real Reason I Sat Down To Write.
Tebow can't possibly fulfill his expectations. It's not possible. The NFL isn't Madden '09 where you can just chuck the ball on a deep pass to DeSean Jackson for a TD every time. You can't figure the NFL out and exploit it over and over again.
Understand this right now. Tebow will throw interceptions and Tebow will lose games. In fact, he will probably lose games because of his interceptions. Tebow is a second year player with 3 full games under his belt. Don't put him up against veterans in this game and expect similar results. The NFL is complicated beyond words, playbooks, and schemes. The only way to learn the NFL is to play the NFL. If it were easier than that the NFL would just grant the winner of the ESPN Madden 'whatever year it is now' reality show a starting coaching job and I would still be on my couch flipping through a a game manual trying to figure out how to spike the frickin football on 1st and goal with 5 second left.
Teams will find a way to account for Tebow. Count on it. Whether that is stacking the box, playing man-to-man coverage at all times, or allowing him to spend his time in the pocket while forcing him to throw an accurate pass they will try it all. He will have to find a way to be good conventionally.
Understand this about Tebow. What he does is not something new. It is not particularly different from QB's that have played the game before him, especially on the college level. The "IT" about Tebow may be unique in certain ways, and he may be the very best at what he did in college, but the actual playing style of Tebow is not original. If the expectation is that his playing style will force teams to do something that they have never done before and hence it will make him successful is an expectation destined for disappointment.
For many Tebow supporters over the past couple of weeks the argument has been Tebow needs to play so we can see what we have in him. It doesn't matter if he's ready or not, we need to see right now because we don't have any more time to waste. I am firmly in that camp. However, it does not escape me that we got what we wanted and as such there is now an immense amount of expectations that need to be met. Tebow no longer gets that "backup" pass. The life of a backup QB on a bad team is a good one, let's be real here. Everyone loves that guy.
The Love For Orton Part
Orton is an average NFL QB. That means Orton is, as far as billion dollar teams with million dollar budgets on scouting squads are concerned he is in the top 50 QB's in a world of almost 7 billion people. That means he's in the 0.000000000714 percentile. Is that a loaded stat? Damn straight but it's friggin impressive right?
The point that Orton lost his job more than Tebow won the job is an important one. Orton was given his opportunity and under the immense pressure he faltered. Does this make him an awful NFL QB? Hell no. I feel a little bad about how things went down with Orton, kind of like how I feel when the girl in high school that I thought was completely unattractive broke up with her boyfriend. There's definitely some pity involved. Now he's Tebow's backup.
That said, do I think Tebow, right now, could command more on the trade market than Orton? I don't think so (but what do I know?). Tebow is a high risk/high reward player on a low risk team that values consistency over big play production. Tim Tebow is a Texas Hold'Em player in a bonds market. He is a little out of place. Tebow needs to be valued by a similar high risk/high reward type of coach. That coach is no longer with the Broncos as he played his hand and he busted big when he got caught cheating the system.
I think EFX have been pushed into a corner in this situation. This isn't what they wanted and I don't think it had anything to do with what they thought about Tebow's prospects as an NFL QB. Tebow is an asset to any team he is on. He'd already been paid his money and his contract over the next couple of years was marginally consequential at best and damn good for a backup QB that could come in and energize a team whose starting QB went down. Money was not an issue.
My opinion is that nobody in the FO of the Denver Broncos is willing to come out now and say that Tebow is ready to start for an NFL team, particularly the Broncos. Is this a dig against Tebow? Hell no. He's a second year player trying to learn the most important position in all of professional sports while being compared to a 7 year vet. Is that fair? No way and I guarantee you Tebow is the first in this debate to understand that life isn't fair. It's just that circumstances have demanded it.
Tebow probably needs more time. Impatience is rarely rewarded with success and I'm afraid the impatience of a fanbase that has been given a taste of hope could eventually doom our own QB. We need Tebow to be good, and we need him to be good right now. Not in five games, not next season, not in 2 years. Tebow needs to be magic right now. In my experience magic is made up of B.O.B. songs, pixie dust, and Denzel Washington movies. Are we really ready to accept a developing talent? Or are we looking for someone to save this franchise now? That's a too tall order for a too inexperienced 2nd year player.
What if Tebow can't reach expectations and the Broncos trade him away next season and then he goes on to have a successful NFL career under a different, more willing coach? Ultimately that fault will lie with our own front office but as fans who have called for his start all season we cannot be guiltless. We have played an important part.
When Tebow steps onto the field at 11:00AM MST on Sunday he will be carrying the expectations of an entire fanbase across the country and every throw, every completion, every TD, every interception, every incomplete pass will be evaluated like it was the only pass he was going to throw in his whole career. We are all looking at an incredibly small sample size (5 passing TD's, 4 rushing TD's, and 49% completion percent in 4 games). Can he continue at this pace? Let's hope so and more because he has set this stage with his own performance.
Wrapping This Up
There are few guarantees in life. Death, taxes, and STD's from prostitutes are really the only things you can count on. In fact, if anything is sold to you as a guarantee the first thing that should come to mind is that this is a big scam. #goodlifelessons
Sure things almost always become certain disappointments.
There are no sure things the world of the NFL. None. The "sure-things" we claim are merely the exceptions that prove the rule.
Tebow has spiked our Kool-aid with Jesus water, FRS, or something. No doubt about it. We are hooked. At some point though, we have to let go of the honeymoon stage and start sobering up to the reality of our team, and that is that most likely we will still lose games and we are still a subpar team. Once we can evaluate Tebow within these parameters perhaps we can start to understand his true talent.
Labeling him as anything more simply sets the stage for our own embarrassment as Tebow learns a new game under a new system. Tim needs our support more than our expectations, and if this 11 game audition is the tell all end all I'd be willing to bet real money that by the end of it there will still be strong arguments on both sides because there is no NFL QB in the history of the NFL that proved himself in his first season. Not one.
Keep that in mind.
So there you have it MHR, my honest attempt at a "realistic" and "negative" viewpoint of the Tim Tebow situation. Notice I avoided certain words like "can't" "won't" "never" and "bust". They refer to stupid arguments that don't invite debate. Please feel free to pick apart any of my points and light me up. I've had nearly 3,000 words of your attention to convince you of my point and if I still cannot persuade you, you have definitely earned your right to set me straight in the comments.
So here's your Kool-Aid back. Please go back to being excited for Sunday. I'm sorry for attempting to pee in your cheerios but the sober thing needs to be said... we should be ready to accept the reality that Tebow is facing considerable odds betting against his success.
Thankfully this is nothing new for him and in his own way, he is in a position to give the biggest middle finger to all his doubters by simply going out there and just being Tim. He'll do it in life just as much as he'll do it on the field. He'd never say so, but that's just the way it is... and I love it.