A God among Men: Tebow 3:16
Sorry, Duane. But it's pretty hard not to touch on St. Timmy after Sunday's wild wildcard win, which ended on the first play in OT with a bb from Tebow to Demaryius Thomas, an 80-yard slant the receiver took to the house. In fact, when I logged on to C&C after the game, I noticed a serious spike for my original post on Tim Tebow (http://tinyurl.com/8xj435y), which was up almost 114%.
* made-up, arbitrary figure
I've been pretty clear about my shameless willingness to whore myself. Over the next couple days, Google is going to be blowing up with searches for Tim Tebow, and I would like to be the beneficiary of some of that traffic. Hence, another article about the least accurate passer in NFL history. This will make my friends Duane and Annie stop reading right...about...now. But I think we can use the example of Tim Tebow to transcend grid iron competition and illustrate a few characteristics about this nation and its real pastime. And it ain't got nothing to do with sports.
There are two things we love to do in America.
Build a hero up.
And then tear him down.
Like washing your fucking hair. Rinse. Lather. Repeat.
Tebow is a fascinating study. He evokes such interest and allegiance from non-football fans, folks who have never seen him play a down but who will defend his humanity, vehemently. I was reading comments on a Yahoo piece a few days back, after Tim really fucked the dog against Kansas City, and there was a remark, clearly left by someone who wouldn't know a football from a pinhead, which was riddled with grammatical errors, y'know, then vs. than; you could almost taste the virtual tears, and the line that got me was, something, like, "Maybe Tebow isn't a winner on the football field but he's a winner in the game of character." Not the game of life. The game of...character.
Now, as a quarterback, there is only one game. And dude can't throw. He's got a QB's number, wears a helment, can loft the ball with a basic, upward trajectory. But he can't hit anything, not with any reliable degree of precision. And throwing a football in tight windows is sort of what the position of quarterback is all about. He knows how to look like a quarterback; he just doesn't know how to be a quarterback.
Of course, this week Tebow will be getting ready to face the #1 seed Patriots, while "Big" Ben Roethlisberger, the more respected pocket passer he just defeated, will be sitting at home watching the next round of playoffs on TV, or, more accurately, hanging out in dance clubs, looking for new and inventive ways to force himself on unsuspecting young women in bathroom stalls. Jokes of Roethlisberger's rapist past aside, the parallel isn't entirely without merit. This is one of the reasons so many people are interest in St. Tim, especially the casual or non fan whose biggest exposure to the NFL might be the repeated stories of its scofflaws. Big Ben gets away (in all likelihood) with sexual assault (more than once); Plaxico Burress does jail time for a gun crime. Even Donte Stallworth, who admitted to drinking and driving, and whose blood/alcohol level confirmed such, was lauded as courageous after he struck and killed a pedestrian. Why? Because he admitted to his crime and took his punishment without offering excuses (he had his attorneys do that for him, arguing that the man he hit had been jaywalking). I have nothing against Stallworth, and it was refreshing, in a way, that the guy fessed up to his crime and didn't try to shirk responsibility. But is this really how low the bar has been set? Guy gets drunk, drives, kills someone, and we're impressed that he served his year sentence with honor?
Tim Tebow is an easy target. I'm sure you've seen the SNL skit, but there's no reason not to repost it here. It is pretty funny.
It's a double edged sword. Tebow's piety is both refreshing and sickening, the antithesis and the sanctimonious. His appeal and allure go beyond sport, but for our purposes, let's go there.
On Sunday, Tim Tebow and his Denver Broncos limped into the playoffs. And that's putting it nicely. Starting against the same New England Patriots he will again be facing next week, and who kicked the shit out of him on his home turf, Tebow lost three straight, the penultimate of those defeats seeing him turn the ball over 4 crucial times (3 in the red zone, I believe). In the final game of the season, which was at Denver's Mile High, a-win-and-you're-in against Kansas City, Tebow delivered one of the worst QB performances of the year, and at a time when his team needed him most, passing for a woeful 60-something yards and helping put up a flaccid 3 spot.
For weeks, in the middle of Tim Tebow's meteoric midseason surge, all you heard from supporters was that the guy just found a way to win. Didn't matter that he completed less than 50% of his passes; didn't matter if his spiral as a loose as a middle-aged Tijuana hooker after Spring Break. Didn't matter if, like Jesus says in the above skit, kicker Matt Prater was the real star. Fans of Tebow conveniently overlooked his glaring flaws. I overlooked his glaring flaws. Because we are all looking for a hero. In life. And in sports. Tebow took over for a 1 - 4 team, and though that team would go on to win 6 of its next 7, only the truly delusional could attribute that solely to Tim's stellar play. There was one game in there where he completed 2 passes. You read that correctly. 2. Most of these games were low scoring affairs where a lot of shit had to go right for the Broncos. A fumble. Interception. Player steps out of bounds. And a late 60-yard kick from Matt Prater.
Actually, it's not much of a mystery. Late in games, defenses that had shut down Tebow's passing attempts all game would suddenly (and inexplicably) go into a soft cover, thus allowing easy completions and moving the sticks. (Actually, this isn't so inexplicable. It's called the "prevent defense." The idea is that you let the QB complete short passes underneath, taking time off the clock and thus avoiding the big play. More often than not all the prevent defense prevents is your team from winning. Drives you nuts.)
In football, it's always "the next Barry Sanders" or "the next Dan Marino." With Tebow, nobody's been touting him as the next anything. Because we've never seen a player like him. Up until now, no one with his piss-poor, Mary throwing mechanics and sub-50% completion ratio would be allowed under center for more than a series in mop-up.
So why has he been? I think Skip Bayless's rap says it best.
He defied logic, thwarted convention. He shouldn't be doing the things he's doing, they said. They call it "intangibles." But they only call it intangibles if you are winning.
And then he stopped winning. Like at the worst possible time. And I stopped caring. Even Skip Bayliss seemed to be grounding the bandwagon. The mighty had fallen.
Until yesterday, Sunday, Wildcard Weekend. The 8 - 8 Denver Broncos taking on the 12 - 4 Pittsburgh Steelers. The Man with a Dead Turkey for an Arm against the vaunted Steal Curtain D. And the man who supposedly couldn't throw a football somehow suddenly did. Like to the tune of 316 yards. Against the best defense in football. On the biggest stage. When the game mattered most. Tight-spiraled, through tighter windowed, game-changing TDs. And it's tough to overlook the Divine symbolism of that number.
It was pretty tough not to get swept up in it, this second wave of Tebow Mania. A hero rises from the ashes. Sort of like Jesus Himself, or the new Batman movie.
Trust me, if you follow football, this is the story you will hear ad nauseum over the next 7 days. ESPN. Sports Illustrated. Every paper. Every sports talk station. Forget that next weekend will feature Brady, Brees, and Rodgers, arguably the best trio of passers in a single season, and who combined to throw for close to 15,000 yards over 47 games (48 if you want to count Matt Flynn doing his A-Rodg impersonation). This week will be all about one man. A man who wears his faith on his sleeve (and under his eyes); a man who works as a missionary in the offseason in Africa to heal the lame and sick and unaborted foetuses; a man who is still a virgin at twenty-four, and who throws a football like a retarded duck: Tim Tebow.
Can his Broncos beat Brady and the Pats in New England, especially after NE shellacked Denver in their own house just three weeks ago? Not a fucking chance in hell.
But I still wouldn't bet against him. Because if there is one thing in this country we love more than creating and demolishing heroes, it's a good ol' fashioned resurrection act.