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Tackling Tebow

A look at the inexplicable, divisive phenomenon

Almost everyone in the world has weighed in on Tim Tebow. His general manager—former Denver Bronco great John Elway—said a few weeks ago that he wasn't quite sold on the young gun as a franchise quarterback. Then there was Charles Barkley, coming out of the woodwork and publicly pleading the Chicago Bears to beat the Broncos. (By the way, they didn't.) The discourse even turns up in seemingly tangential corners, such as young-adult author John Green's Tumblr and the pages of Rolling Stone. So what has Tebow done to deserve, in either sense of the word, all the chatter? Let's review.

Tebow, as we see him now, is a two-time national champion from the University of Florida. He is a Heisman Trophy winner, and one of the rare college athletes who succeeded so spectacularly and still played all four years— instead of making the jump to the pros early. He is enthusiastic in his love for the game, and most of his former associates, whether they be coaches or teammates, are nothing but effusive in their praise for him.

He also just so happens to be over-the-top religious. This, for a lot of people, is a deal breaker. Tebow's parents were missionaries, and he was raised with those beliefs. He has given numerous interviews stating that his ultimate goal in the NFL is to make enough money so that he can live the same kind of lifestyle as his parents did. The religious viewpoint is not unique to the NFL, nor to the Denver Broncos, but Tebow seems to raise a fervent attitude to people on both sides of the issue.

The real crux of The Tebow Dilemma, though, comes when examining the Broncos' record since Tebow was moved into the starting position at quarterback. In the words of DJ Khaled, all the Broncos have been doing since is winning. Often in ridiculously convoluted, dramatic fashion.

The Broncos were an anemic 1-4 before Tebow was slotted in to start, and have gone 7-1 since. The schedule, derided by critics at the beginning of the win streak, has gotten more difficult. The wins, counted as lucky by those same critics, have only gotten more and more tension-filled and climactic.

By most measures, Tebow is not, and should not be counted as a good quarterback in the NFL. Objectively, most scouts looked at him two years ago, before the draft, and said that he would not amount to much. (There were, of course, notable exceptions, such as Jon Gruden.) Subjectively, though, those critics, along with those who doubted his starting position or his worth to the Broncos at all, have had quite a few words to chew on in the last eight weeks. The wins keep piling up and, as of now, Denver sits alone in the top spot of the AFC West.

Steering away from the personal reasons people may or may not like Tebow, it seems now is a good time to remind everyone that we truly do live in the Moneyball age. Will Tebow continue to defy the numbers, or do statistical averages rule all? Will he break the numbers, or eventually conform to them? A third path exists: Perhaps Tim Tebow is making his own numbers, improving as he goes along. For now, the most entertaining words that any football fan can hear on any given Sunday go something like this: "It's the fourth quarter. The Broncos are down. But Tebow's got the ball." Tune in. Something amazing is going to happen.

 

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