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#pounditTuesday, September 21, 2021

Tim Tebow Is the NFL’s Messiah

You can call off the search. It looks like Roger Goodell has found his Messiah. Nope, it’s not a really tall guy, wearing sandals, sporting a snowy, white beard. (If my religious imagery has been formulated through years of watching cartoons, I apologize.) Actually, he stands about 6-foot-3, dresses in an odd combination of navy blue and orange, appears to be pretty clean-shaven, and wears the number 15. Beware the Ides of Tim Tebow. Although no one would confuse Tyler Palko for Goliath, Tebow thus far in his first audition as a starter for the Denver Broncos hath runneth over the opposition in the AFC West, which is sort of, in essence, giving creed to the saying the meek shall inherit a playoff berth.

The nascent success of the deeply religious quarterback from the University of Florida has also led to the intersection of gridiron and Biblical imagery, most notably fans sports jerseys with his number and Jesus’ name in place of “Tebow” on the back. Far be it for this writer to speculate on the religious significance of Tebow’s accomplishments.

Before my Bar Mitzvah (and even at times after it), I thought that Jesus and Moses were Alou brothers, not spiritual figures. His success has also spurred the coinage of words like “Tebowing” to connote his devout beliefs, while becoming a poster-boy for the young Republicans club. If that be the case, in the interest of the Equal Time Rule, I say that an interception or fumble be considered a “Tebow-ner”; giving the Denver play-caller the benefit of the doubt, akin to throwing him a “Tebow-n.” Of course, should he ever lose his spot as starter, the Broncos quarterback position would be “previously Tebow-ned.” That last one could apply to other things, though I reluctantly hold back.

After being a highly sought-after high school prospect, Tebow landed at Florida as the backup to Chris Leak, as well-remembered by college football fans for orchestrating the Gators’ success as Pete Best was for keeping the beat early on with the Beatles. (For non-devotees of Beatles history, please keep reading, it’s bound to get better.) Tebow helped lead Florida to a national championship that year, helping to take the minds of proud alumni off the fact that they spent any measurable portion of their life in Gainesville, Florida, once listed as the one of the “meanest” cities in the country. (Probably not an accomplishment championed by the local chamber of commerce.) The following year, he won the Heisman, showing that it’s good to give, but receiving isn’t all that bad, either.

Not too long after, Tebow revealed that he was a virgin, becoming the first non-sportswriter to openly acknowledge that fact. With his awesome athletic ability and his rise to college football stardom, Tebow became a sports sensation. Throw in a large helping of piety, and he became the biggest thing to hit religion since Charlton Heston parted the Red Sea. His devotion became so prominent he even wrote Biblical verses on his eye-black, a practice banned by the NCAA under the guise of “The Tebow Rule” after his graduation. Prior to Tim’s arrival on the scene, most would have associated “John 3:16” with a quarterback’s passing efficiency, but his four years of brilliance at Florida ignited a fervor among the red states that few outside of the Bush family can.

A number of teams had their doubts about Tebow when he made his way into the NFL draft in 2010. Perhaps scouts spent too much time reading the book on Tebow, which invariably featured a lot of guys wearing robes and sandals, certainly not conducive to athletic performance. Tim made only three starts, compiling a quarterback rating only slightly better than Isaac, but not showing the ability to cut through defenses like Abraham. It wasn’t too long before the critics began to pile on, with Tebow’s throwing-style the subject of much debate. Kyle Orton began the season as the Broncos’ starter, but one doesn’t need to consult the Book of Numbers to realize that a 1-4 start is pretty cruddy. Following halftime of the San Diego Chargers game in Week 5, Orton got the Abel treatment, and Tebow was counted on to become the Broncos leader, with legions of Denver fans thrusting Messianic status on the 2nd year play-caller in much the same fashion as they did with post-Elway schlubs like Brian Griese, Jake Plummer, Jay Cutler, and Orton, who apparently is on his way to KC, the NFL’s version of a leper colony.

While Tebow slings with the accuracy of a helmeted David, the Broncos have gone 4-1 after starting the season with the reverse record. He already has penned an autobiography (presumably authorized), he has been featured in documentaries and commercials (for better or worse), and officially has his own piece of verbiage. This for a guy who has yet to start an entire season in the NFL.

Plummer, who once held the unenviable role as the Broncos’ starting quarterback and also owned one of the worst mustaches this side of John Oates, recently criticized Tebow for his inordinate amount of Jesus references. In case you were wondering, Plummer is currently retired from football, exhausted from devising new and inventive ways to turn the ball over. Currently, he has devoted a lot of his time to playing in handball tournaments. I wish I could take credit for that line, but, alas, it is the truth.

As long as Tebow continues to win, his healthy approval ratings from the good folks in Denver should stay well north of Herman Cain’s. He has even made believers out of people like, say, his head coach (editor’s note: that’s kinda important in order to be a starter). John Fox last week was forced into one of those famous gun-to-the-head apologies after saying that Tebow would be up the Nile in a regular offense. Quite possibly the 24-year-old Tebow could be the savior for whom the Denver Broncos have been looking in earnest over the last decade-plus since John Elway retired. Some say it’s Tim’s athleticism. Others say it’s the personality, his leadership potential. Then, there is a growing contingent who wants to give credit to the man upstairs… You know, Pat Bowlen. Who did you think I was talking about?


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