If you've been following the NFL, you've probably heard about Merrli Hodge's recent remarks about Denver Broncos quarterback, Tim Tebow. In the thirty-six hours, Hoge has been on a bit of a media tour - appearing on across multiple media platforms - to explain his seemingly objective position that Tebow will never be a NFL quality quarterback - no matter what.
Follow me after the fold for a recap of this saga and an in-depth (and quite possibly biased) look at Merril's comments.
It all started with a series of tweets yesterday morning (I've combined them into a paragraph for ease of reading):
Sitting watching tape off bronco offense from last year! Orton or Tebow? It's embarrassing to think the broncos could win with tebow!! Orton or tebow? QB play is not just about who works hard gives rare rare college speeches or who is a good guy!! Because orton works hard And is a good guy as well. It's about who can play!! I just watched Tebow throw 5 out routes to a wide open WR! He was 1 for 5! 2 went in Dirt 2 in the stands! That throwing motion he changed? U can't change who u r! Just watched 2 throws and he throws like he did in college!!College credentials do not transfer to NFL raw raw speeches do not work! You must poses a skill set to play! Tebow struggle with accuracy!
Shortly after these tweets, Hoge appeared on Sportscenter to explain his position.
Hey Merril...... 'ppreciate that
@TimTebow I'm not going to say its nothing personal, or hide behind its my job, or my producer made me do it, because anytime someone like me in this case makes a FOOTBALL evaluation of you I understand its taken personal and i understand what comes from that. My views are football only!! I have only met you once but feel your a good soul. Nothing would make feel better than to eat crow!! I'm a straight shooter and I have no agenda, so know i mean this, good luck this season and prove me wrong!
Phew! That's a ton of stuff to digest! In the interest of full disclosure, I like of Tim Tebow. I was at the Houston game last year and saw what he can do with my own eyes. He brings an element of excitement to the game that, I feel, none of the other quarterbacks offer. Whatever the Broncos decide to do with him is their business. They rarely ask me what I think on personnel matters and it's probably for the best that they don't. Above it all, I am a Bronco fan no matter who's marshaling us up and down the field.
That said, is Merril Hoge right? Is the Tebow experiment doomed to fail in Denver? Is Hoge being as objective as he claims? Is there some nefarious agenda at play to get Merril's name in the media? Let's take a look at what Hoge has said and find out.
Not one, but two exclamation points hammer this home. What Merril is saying here is that to the Broncos franchise, Tebow is an embarrassment. The fans that think that Tebow is a winner are not only wrong, but wrong to a point where they should feel shame. For everyone that bought Tebow gear, you should be ashamed of yourself to wear it in public because you think the Broncos are capable of winning with Tebow.
QB play is not just about who works hard gives rare rare college speeches or who is a good guy!!
Merril is working on an assumption that Tebow (or proponents of Tebow) have made the case that Tim is a good quarterback because of the traits he lists above. Here, he is diminishing Tebow's work ethic and is using one of his storied moments as a Gator against him. He then tempers it with a backhanded compliment in calling him a "good guy", but this too because of the context is used as a negative against him. None of these traits that Hoge lists has anything to do with throwing a ball down the field - this part isn't about football.
It's about who can play!!
Hoge is intimating that Tebow can't. Agian with the double exclamation points to hit the point home. There is an evident passion in Hoges thumbs as he pounds out that tweet.
That throwing motion he changed? U can't change who u r! Just watched 2 throws and he throws like he did in college!!
You can't change who you are. That's a pretty loaded statement to make about someone. Sure, if Tim was trying to transition into being an astronaut or a ballerina, Hoge would probably be right. For better or for worse, regardless of how you look at it, Tebow has been a winner at every level. Sure, his throwing motion may be ugly and could be his ultimate downfall, but to suggest that no matter what Tebow does to improve, to outrightly declare that he is incapable of changing is an odious assumption. If everyone played to their maximum potential right out of the box, there wouldn't be a need for coaches (or analysts for that matter) in the first place.
My cat will never master macrame; no matter how much support or instruction I give him. I can write that off right now. However, it's just too soon to write Tebow off in this way (especially not after - by Hoge's admission - basing it on just two throws in his third start ever). I don't know if he's going to be good or not, I'm just saying we need a little more time and a see a few more passes before we can make such sweeping declarations.
You must poses a skill set to play! Tebow struggle with accuracy!
Again, there is this assumption that Tebow is wholly incapable of success because the sum total of his football skills are insufficient - he doesn't "poses" them. Hoge then follows up with a preemptive rebuttal to criticism with comment about accuracy. Frankly, if one struggles with something - say lifting luggage - it's not the same as being incapable of doing that thing. With struggling, there is that inherent possibility that one can overcome.
I'm not going to say its nothing personal, or hide behind its my job, or my producer made me do it, because anytime someone like me in this case makes a FOOTBALL evaluation of you I understand its taken personal and i understand what comes from that.
He's not going to say it's nothing personal... Because it is. Listening to The Fan interview you can hear Merril get worked up when he was challenged (in all fairness I get excited when I have one to many cups of coffee. This could be the same in Merril's case). Rather than answer the question about Tebow's stats being better than John Elway's when comparing starts, Merril chides the Denver-based hosts for taking Elway's name in vain. How dare they even make the comparison? He successfully avoids having to answer the question. Further, in the interview Merril mentions how poorly Tebow has practiced, but then goes on to later say that he hasn't seen a single practice from this year's training camp - he's basing the entirety of his commentary on the last game of the horrific 2010 season... An exciting game (certainly in comparison to the other games from that season) in which the Broncos were actually competitive up until the final moments.
Also, it needs to be said that the air of condescension is heavy within what Hoge said above. By capitalizing "FOOTBALL" has he did, Hoge was trying to stress (perhaps hide behind) the assumption that his criticisms are football related. It's one thing to say it, but to unwaveringly cling to his position - relish it - as he did, that's when it becomes personal and not just about football. Even in text form, his tweets were sopping with that "passion" (remember all those exclamation points?).
I'm a straight shooter and I have no agenda
On September 15, 2010, Merril Hoge released the hardcover edition of his book "Find A Way: Three Words That Changed My Life." Here's the Amazon.com product description:
When Merril talked about his dream of playing in the NFL all he heard was, that will be too hard, you can't beat those odds, it's impossible, and son don't put all your eggs in one basket! That inspired him to write Find a Way and put it on the top of the wall above all his goals. Find a Way would become a life-long philosophy that helped him achieve his dream of playing in the NFL, but also has helped him deal with the near loss of his hand as a young boy, the loss of his mother at a young age, overcome severe head trauma and battle and beat cancer. It has also become a parenting tool and helped him realize the magic that exists in all of us!
I’ll refrain from making comments on book’s subject so that you may make your own interpretation. It’s safe to say that this book will inevitably come out in paperback and since the hardcover edition has already been out for close to a year, it’s probably going to happen sooner rather than later. Could it be that this sudden and unmotivated anti-Tebow blitz could be related? I don't know. There's been no official announcement as to when the paperback is going to come out.
good luck this season and prove me wrong!
After everything he’s said and the passion he’s said it with, Hoge again tries to temper his sharp criticism with an attempt to finally take the high road. If all else fails, reserve the right to claim that if you are proven wrong, that you were rooting for him to succeed all along.
On a side note, I’ve been monitoring the tweets addressed to Merril and some are borderline criminal threats. Let’s not lose sight of the fact that this is a game and criticism (even flawed criticism) is part of it. If you’re firing off a tweet at someone, anyone - not just about this, think about what you’re saying and remember that there’s a person on the other end.