Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Eat, Pray, Tebow

Tim Tebow eats up a challenge, prays on the sideline, and loves the spotlight. In summary, he's the Julia Roberts of the NFL. Maybe not as leggy.

It's a familiar tale: a pilgrimage of self-discovery transpiring amid confusion and controversy. None of which is real, mind you, just the echoes of our hyperactive minds. But just like the narrative of the well known chick flick, we wonder if Tebow can adequately calm his soul despite the noise? And more importantly, will this journey feature a weird old guy in a bandanna who refers to him as "Groceries"?

Actually, good quarterbacks play with a full bag of groceries. Tebow's operating with less than 10 items. That's not a knock on his intelligence but his skill-set, which notably lacks an accurate mid-range or deep throw. Oh sure, against the San Diego Chargers last Sunday he completed a few longer balls, including a nice 18-yarder to Eric Decker for a score. But as his 9 for 18 completions indicate, Tebow passes usually finish like a clean-up on aisle three.

The truth is, we need to forget the stats - even ones that show Tebow's protecting the ball, and his passer rating as a decent 80.5 (as of week 12). What have been conventional quarterback measures for the last 50 years are no longer relevant - didn't you get John Fox's memo? It's not about style points, it's about wins. And Tebow is redefining "winning" football. As a result, it's quite possible we've been overrating the quarterback position altogether. Tebow, after all, is doing less quarterbacking than we've ever seen from a signal-caller, and his defensively-minded Denver Broncos are reaping the rewards. Even The Denver Post this week published that if Tebow earns his club a playoff berth, then he must not only be considered a legitimate Pro Bowl candidate, but also the NFL's most valuable player. Mercy!

Tebow's success - and the hype that follows it - feels like a sharpened iron poking at our collective sides. Yes, his personality is divisive, but so is his style. It's so unnatural it's making our heads explode. So how do we resolve the issue of a player we can't accurately label? How do we rationalize this football phenomenon when his perpetual positivity and seemingly endless luck - see faith - supersede the gaping holes in his quarterbacking repertoire? And what are the parameters for defining a winner anyway? One win? Five wins? Twenty minutes in the confessional?

There's no science to this. We know Tebow is a winner because high profile people tell us so, and because he's taken more end of game knees than Johnny Lawrence from Cobra Kai. And yet, recounting his faults has become a national pastime. We know Tebow can't throw, but he makes plays. He doesn't look down field, but he rumbles across it like a John Deere mower. He doesn't hang tough in the pocket, but is hard enough to take an Elway helicopter spin. He doesn't let plays develop, but his teammates are developing a powerful belief in him. He can't play four quarters, but he nails the fourth. He talks about his faith too much, but never stops believing. And though we keep talking about him, he doesn't hear it.

Just what to do with a case like Tebow?

We probably won't know until the journey ends, when he's hoisting the MVP trophy above his haloed noggin, and we've all attained a mile high worth of enlightenment.

This article first appeared on Technorati. 

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