Mid-game praying? Charitable acts? CELEBACY? I must be talking about the Pope’s recent trip to Mexico. Definitely not one of the most popular NFL quarterbacks in the league. In fact it is the New York Jets Tim Tebow, the most talked about passer in the New York area. He is not even their starter however, he is backing up the much maligned, much talked about, and much more photographed former USC Trojan, Mark Sanchez.
Eli Manning just won the Super Bowl, and also just hosted Saturday Night Live, but plays backup to the media’s dueling banjos of Tim Tebow and Mark Sanchez. “The New York Giants just won a championship,” Manning said in a recent interview, “yet I’m still the third most talked about quarterback in my own city.”
Eli Manning has as many Super Bowl rings, two, as Tebow had completions in a game against the Kansas City Chiefs last year. A game the Broncos won.
What is our fascination with a quarterback that can’t throw, reads defenses as well as Lindsey Lohan reads street signs, and gives an interview about as interesting as… well… I don’t know if there is as boring a comparison.
“I’m so excited about being a Jet,” Tebow said at his first press conference after being traded from the Broncos to the Jets. “I’m looking forward to my time here in New York. I’m so humbled that they wanted me… I’m looking forward to my future as a Jet.” Snooze fest.
That is not an out of context snippet of his boringness. It is what every word out of guy’s mouth sounds like. Excited, amazing, and fun are the majority of adjectives he knows. He is as well trained at speaking to the press as a Westminster Dog Show winner. The guy makes Martha Stewart sound like Charles Barkley.
I believe that the countries’ fascination with number 15 is, we are searching for the same thing that he thanks before every interview: a savior.
University of Florida needed a savior. They had not won a national championship since 1996, and Timmy Terrific was part of two college national championship teams while playing for UF and won a Heisman Trophy to boot.
Denver needed a savior. The Broncos had been waiting over a decade for someone to finally replace their gunslinger-hero John Elway. While he doesn’t throw the ball like Johnny, he pulled out crazy wins like Elway did. He led them to their first playoff appearance and victory since 2005.
The country needs a savior. It is looking for relief from the drugs, guns, and girls that we get from seemingly every other corner of professional sports, politics, and just about any other profession we used to admire. Tebow is a devout Christian, preaching on Easter and praying, publicly, every chance he gets. He is a self-professed virgin until marriage, and he says “God bless” to players that curse at him on the field. He is what most parents hope their boys become and whom their daughters marry.
New York… Well New York just loves a great story on page 6. But nonetheless, I am sure he will save something in Manhattan, even if it is just bus fare.
He will never be the most statistically accomplished player on the gridiron, but he may very well have the most success at being a human of anyone who has ever played a game of football.
All of Tebow’s deeds, both on and off the field, carry with it his openness of his faith. While his beliefs alone are not contested, his outward expression of them in everything he does is. He is insanely polarizing and the media loves it. You either love him or hate him, but everyone seems to have an opinion on him.
The sophomore executive of the Denver Broncos, John Elway, was able to replace Tebow, maybe by the grace of God, with the only QB that maybe more popular than Tim with Peyton Manning. He saved face with most fans by bringing in a sure first ballot hall-of-famer to replace the league’s three-and-out leader. You might not know it however if you read the tweets that had been sent to Elway in the days following Tim’s trade to New York. Let’s just say they did not have very Tebow-friendly language in them.
Eli Manning is as controversial as laundry day. He doesn’t make waves on or off the field. When he wins, even if he played amazing, it is almost forgettable. Unlike Tim, who usually has the worst stat line of any passer in the league that week, but finished the game in a way you would never have been able to fathom. Eli can “gee, shucks” it with the best of them at press conferences just like Tim. Even when he tries to be the center of attention, like Manning’s recent hosting efforts on SNL, it is overshadowed by Rihanna’s crotch-tapping musical performance.
Their biggest difference comes in what is the two player’s focus. Tebow wants to use his popularity as a platform to advance his otherworldly agenda while Eli just wants to win football games.
“For me, it’s a great opportunity on a public platform to get on your knees and humble myself and thank the Lord for all the blessings he’s put in my life,” Tebow said on ABC News.
Putting his beliefs and off-the-field work on display has taken his stardom from the NFL’s most clutch QB, to one of the world’s biggest cultural icons.
Eli, on the other hand, is more than happy to keep his work efforts on the football field, and it shows. He is the only person to get the better of Tom Brady in the Super Bowl, and he did it twice. Since Manning’s first full season as the starter of the New York Giants, they have not had a losing record. Eli is now in serious conversations as a hall of famer. Those accolades may win you praise in the locker room, and around the league, but it does not inspire, and infuriate an entire country. Tim on the other hand, had the 28th worst passer rating in the league and was dead last for passing yards per game.
If Peyton and Archie Manning are any indication though, Eli will probably be more than happy to be known as one of the game’s greatest and not one of the world’s most well known people. Tim Tebow didn’t ask for that either, but he sure is using it. But whichever side you might think is the better way to operate and go about your business, assuredly, Mark Sanchez would prefer to switch with Eli for third place than answer one more question about Tim Tebow. Maybe he can call Kyle Orton for some tips.
Shawn was a math and science major in college, bound for wealth and fortune, before his love of sports derailed his college career, I mean, took it in a different direction. He finished with a degree in journalism instead so he could write about sports and politics. He grew up in South Florida, went to school at the same time and about a mile away from Devin Hester, but moved to the Rocky Mountains for college in Denver.