The Tim Tebow Saga: The Final Word
Much like any other professional athlete that can’t get enough of him or herself, Tim Tebow doesn’t shy away from attention. Much like many of his prima-donna predecessors, he thrusts himself right smack dab in the middle of the spotlight as often as he can. But in Mr. Tebow’s defense, can we really blame him for it? I mean after all, the guy is young, rich, in awesome shape and plays professional football for a living. That resume alone seems to warrant a sense of cockiness and supreme swagger status. Though humility should never be abandoned, some swagger is a must for an NFL quarterback (see “Broadway” Joe Namath), so I guess Timmy gets a pass on that one.
And then there’s the undeniable fact that the guy has consistently found ways to help his team win games. Although he often accomplishes this with dismal statistical outputs, he’s spearheaded his team to enough victories this season that one can no longer deny his ability to “get the job done”, regardless of how pretty it may or may not be. Winning is winning and Tim Tebow seems to have figured out a way to do just that.
But with all that being said, we’re still talking about the same old things that have been discussed a thousand times over throughout previous weeks. In fact, you’re probably saying to yourself right now, “okay, let’s get on with it.” Point taken kind sir (or ma’am), you want to get down to business. Okay, let’s get down to it.
If a person of extreme religious faith (that you don’t know) shows up at your front door and wants to talk about religion, do you greet them with open arms and proceed to have a lengthy discussion with them, or do you respectfully decline and send them on their merry way? Or what about politics; do you stop and talk to protesters on the street that you may or may not agree with? Studies show most of us choose to decline on these random conversations. Not to say that we don’t enjoy a good talk from time to time, but quite simply, it makes most people uncomfortable to openly discuss these controversial topics, especially with complete strangers. So then the question poses itself: when Tim Tebow wants to talk about his faith, does it make you (even for a second) wish that he wouldn’t? It’s not like we have a choice either way. He’s going to say whatever he wants whether we like it or not, but if we did have the choice, would we keep our doors open for him, or would we send him on his proverbial “merry way?”
It is what it is. The guy is religious, and that’s fine. This isn’t about keeping someone from believing what they want to believe, or saying what they want to say, this is about tact. This is about the media and how they are exploiting Tim Tebow. This is about a mere ‘interesting story’ being blown way out of proportion and becoming “thee” story in the league this year. Now I encourage you to (if you can) think about this as an outsider, completely unbiased either way. Let’s imagine that Tim Tebow wasn’t a religious person and never brought it up in press conferences or post-game interviews, and “Tebowing” never existed, what would we have on our hands? We would have a very average quarterback that has accomplished some unexpected things to help his team win some games this year. He’s a surprise success and that’s where it ends. So the obvious question then poses itself: what’s so incredible about that? Why all the hype surrounding this guy?
Plenty of surprise-success stories have been witnessed and reported on in the history of professional sports, yet you would be hard pressed to find a more intriguing and widely-talked about media feeding frenzy other than the Tim Tebow story. Why is that? What has he done that is so different than any other unexpected overachiever in the history of the league? Tom Brady was drafted in the sixth round of the 2000 draft as the 199th pick, and look at what he’s done. Brady is a lock for the NFL Hall of Fame, he’s a perennial Pro-Bowler and two time Super Bowl MVP, yet his story didn’t receive as much attention as the infamous Tim Tebow saga. Why not?
Don’t get me wrong, any man that suits up to play this game against some of the most gifted athletes in the world, earns a ton of respect right off the top. Then if you throw in the fact that he’s a proven winner, the respect-o-meter climbs even higher. If my favorite team started a quarterback that completed less than 50% of his passes and boasted a modest 75.1 quarterback rating, yet continued to help my team win games, I would most likely have nothing but praise for him. I wouldn’t care in the slightest what his stats were, a win is a win. But that’s not the point. The point is, all anyone can ever talk about anymore is Tim Tebow, and I for one would like an explanation as to why exactly that is. If we can agree on the fact that it’s not his in-game stats, or the unexpected nature of his success that’s garnished him with so much attention, then I challenge you to find the reason and report back with some enlightenment for those of us still wondering “why.”
If your argument is his optimism, positivity and desire to win, be prepared to defend the counter-argument that players like Drew Brees, Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, Matt Hasselbeck and Phillip Rivers already embody these same traits. Any football fan knows, this league is known for its notoriously classy players that never cease to amaze us with their selfless attitudes and uncompromising integrity, as well as the shamelessly un-classy players that can under no circumstances seem to keep their feet out their mouths. And in considering and acknowledging the role of the media, of course they’re going to capitalize on a juicy story, whether it be rooted in class or in shame. In all actuality, the shameful ones seem to be the juicier of the two, so it makes perfect sense that any news is good news for them. But when a player is constantly making headlines for doing things that countless players have done before him (and done better mind you) one can only wonder what the heck is going on.
This leads me to my next point of contention. Aaron Rodgers has his “belt donning” touchdown celebration. Clay Matthews has his “beastly” arm spreading, post-tackle taunt. Deion Sanders had his “Prime Time Shuffle” dance. You name it, these players do it. Now it’s “Tebowing” that’s taken us by storm. It’s the next big thing. Much like these other “moves”, this is Tim’s way of separating himself from everyone else in the league. It establishes a signature identity for him among the 1000+ players in the game, and allows him to conveniently throw in his thanks to the man upstairs at the same time. Seems harmless enough right? A little touchdown, a little prayer…..everyone wins. Well that depends on how you choose to see it.
Praying does a lot of good for a lot of people. There’s no question about that. But is such a sacred ritual, one meant to strengthen the bond between man and God, really supposed to have attained such a tasteless man-made label like “Tebowing?” I mean after all, we’re talking about praying, not a silly touchdown dance. For “Tebowing” to have caught on as a popular “move”, is not only exploiting something that has no business being classified as such, it borderlines on substantially offensive to many people on many different levels.
From now on, when Tebow “Tebows”, I encourage you to call it praying and not buy into this whole “Tebowing” movement. Praying is exactly what he’s doing, and not Tim Tebow or anyone else for that matter has the right to use something so personal for popularity’s sake. Whether or not this was Mr. Tebow’s goal, that’s what it’s turned into nonetheless. Perhaps the media, not Tebow himself is responsible for the “signature move”/prayer connection, but nevertheless, it’s a bad idea to keep it going for any longer than it has to.
You want to be popular Tim? Use your God-given physical abilities to win more games for your football team. You want to go down as a legitimate quarterback in this league? Lead your Broncos back to the playoffs again next year. You want to rub your doubters in the right way? Come out publicly and request that people stop making such a big deal about your praying. And while you’re at it, tell them to stop calling it “Tebowing.” This may or may not be your fault, but regardless, you allow it to happen. Until you make it right, you’re going to continue to have just as many haters as you do avid followers. I don’t make the rules, I just live in a world governed by sports writers that do.
The media is very good at making something out of nothing. It’s just what they do. Without their prowess and tenacity toward creating headlines, Gridiron Experts probably wouldn’t have our website and ESPN may never have existed. I get it, we need the media. But when it comes down to it, we as people are all individually responsible for the things that we do or do not say. We’re all responsible for the things we choose to, or choose not to believe. We all form opinions. Sometimes it’s with the help of friends, sometimes it’s upon reading a convincing article written by an obviously talented writer, or sometimes it’s through our own research of a certain topic. Either way, we are all opinionated people and are all capable of believing anything we want to. We’re all guilty of the occasional “harsh judgment” just as we are of going “too easy” on someone. Whether you believe this to be a harsh judgment of our friend Mr. Tebow, or if you’re on the opposite end of the spectrum, it’s certainly your right as a human being to feel however you wish. But let’s keep one thing in mind, it’s probably not his fault that such a spectacle has been made about him, so let’s try and take it easy when we judge him.
The media’s contributions to this story have definitely influenced the overall composition of the script, that’s a given. Without the media, who knows what the Tebow story would even resemble. Yes, Tebow has written some of it for himself with his improbable victories, his 4th quarter comebacks and his positive attitude. But before we go and hand him the league MVP and man of the year awards, let’s see if he can continue to handle the pressure that being the talk of the league brings with it, as well as perform at a Pro-Bowl level. And let’s see if he can do all this with the understanding that a separation of church and touchdown dances is in order. If he can do all this, maybe then he’ll win over those that haven’t hopped on the Tebow train quite yet. Until then, he’ll remain questionable as a member of the “well liked athlete club” in the eyes of those doubters. Which side of the tracks are you on?