What to make of Mr. Tim Tebow? Is he a product of the hype machine, or an embryonic version of a future all-star? The oft-maligned QB has the Broncos dreaming of a return to the playoffs while reigniting a rabid fanbase. Dismissed as too inconsistent with unworkable mechanics, Tebow has continued to work for an opportunity which arrived when Kyle Orton descended into a spiral of inconsistency and ultimately, losses. The UF product seized the mantle of leadership and then some. The game scripts have Tebow looking lost for 3 quarters only to step up to close the game. Explicitly, the Broncos defense has also been much more effective when Tebow is playing. Its difficult to account for such defensive improvements with quarterback play, though the increased focus on the running game could be a contributing factor. Come from behind wins, check. Dramatic signature pose, check. Winning a game while completing an unfathomable TWO passes, check. Focus on team, rather than individual accomplishments, uhmmm, obviously a big check.
Every so often a player comes along who blurs the line between sports and entertainment. Cal Ripken was a great player, but late in his career, his story literally grew larger than life. At the other end of the spectrum, Dennis Rodman was also a great player, but many casual fans watched his games for the sideshow entertainment. Today, Tim Tebow is one of those players. His story instantly polarizes fans, not as much through his own antagonism, but moreso because we are a polarized country these days. Many object to his faith. Others just think that he gets undue attention because of religion. Superficially, his off-field persona weaves seamlessly with his on-field play:
1. The humble: Tebow continues to push the “team first” concept.
2. The blessed: Seemingly outmatched in every game, the Tebow-led Broncos are getting the breaks and finding ways to win.
3. The savior: Tebow and his offense have often looked absolutely terrible for 3 quarters only to deliver at games end.
Where the story really gets intriguing though, is on the field. Playing with obvious holes in his game, Tebow has defied the odds and led the Broncos to a 6-1 record. Given his skill set, this run of success is unlikely at best. Tebow provides a dose of mobility and punishing running, but that doesn’t seem like a long-term winning strategy. And that is the best part. Why is Tebow succeeding? It’s not because he has a better set of physical skills than everyone else. Perhaps it is because he brings a valuable set of intangibles to the table. Or, perhaps, deliciously, it’s because he “lives right” and the big guy upstairs is pulling for Tebow nation. Hilarious for sure, but everyone is thinking exactly that every time he wins another game while single-handedly taking football back to the pre-forward pass era. If he spiked the ball on every third down, would you half expect him still to win? Sure you would, and the only explanation is that he has some “Angels in the backfield” thing going on. The more the naysayers focus on the “evidence” of Tebow’s shortcomings, the more his fans strengthen their “faith” in the leadership of the chosen one. And that’s why he’s a conundrum. This isn’t a, “are you a Team Edward or Team Jacob“ type of question. No, this is a question of whether you see sports, and perhaps life, as evidence-based or faith-based. Did I mention that this guy is polarizing?