There is always safety in valor.
- Emerson, American Poet and Essayist (1803-1882)
They say he has the intangibles, the heart of a champion, he has all those things you can’t quantify that makes someone a winner. His winning itself is so unexplainable, they’ve taken to calling it “Tebow Magic” because it seems like you can only explain it as something supernatural, something not of this world, so I ask myself maybe, just maybe, has Jesus Christ become a football fan? Has Jesus taken an active interest in this man, Tim Tebow, the most overtly devoted worshiper of Christ in football history?
The Tebow phenomenon is the story of how a man who had been slighted, doubted and disparaged by most analysts came in to take a hapless 1-4 team going nowhere and turn it into a 7-5 team headed for the playoffs. The story is also of a player who has put religion into the forefront of the discussion about football and how Tebow has become a lightning rod in the debate as to whether his overt displays of his faith are somehow inappropriate for the football field. It’s a story so improbable, he’s become a man so polarizing that the Tebow phenomenon has become a bigger story in the NFL than the Packers themselves, a 12-0 team in pursuit of perfection and a Super Bowl repeat.
Never has a player had so many doubters . . . from Tebow’s FRS energy drink commercial, self-described, but a career summary few would deny:
They said I couldn’t be a high school quarterback, they said I couldn’t get a [division 1 college] scholarship . . . that you can’t make it, you’re not good enough, you’re not skilled enough . . . they said I couldn’t win a Heisman, they said I couldn’t win a national championship, they said I wouldn’t be a first round draft pick, they said I couldn’t play in the league, ‘ppreciate that.
And yet at every level, despite all the doubters, Tebow just kept doing everything they said he couldn’t do.
It didn’t stop when he made the NFL. After the Broncos got off to a 1-4 start, the Denver faithful were clamoring for Tebow to get a chance to play, chanting his name, and in what looked like a throwaway season, the greatest Bronco of all, John Elway gave into the fans, probably thinking he’d just throw Tebow to the wolves and be over it. You see, John Elway thinks you need a great pocket passer to win championships (you know, a guy taken straight from the mold of John Elway himself) but sometimes, being a great player does not make you a great judge of talent.
In Week 5, after being put in the 2nd half with his team down 23-10 to the Chargers, Tebow almost pulled off a furious comeback.
The next game was his first start. Down 15-0 and with the game on the line, Tebow suddenly injected life into an offense that had been sputtering all game, throwing a TD with 2:44 to go in the 3rd and then another TD with 17 seconds on the clock, and the entire game came down to do or die, a 2-point conversion to tie, and Tebow did. Tied at 15-15, the game went into overtime, and Tebow led the team down the field to an overtime win. Both a game-tying 4th quarter drive and a game-winning overtime drive in his first pro start.
With a hiccup – getting clobbered by Detroit in his second start – Tebow Magic then went on to roll for five straight wins:
- two road game victories against divisional rivals at the Raiders and at the Chiefs
- beating the Jets with less than a minute to go on a memorable game-winning 20-yard TD run by Tebow
- on the road against division rival San Diego he lead two more drives to add to the collection: a 4th quarter game-tying drive and a game-winning drive in overtime.
- at Minnesota, he showed clutch passing in coming from behind twice in the 4th quarter, a game which the Broncos won on a game-ending FG.
As Tebow was leading his team to these victories, the cameras would cut to shots of Elway in the team suite and as he clapped somewhat artificially Elway’s face looked as if he was sucking on a lemon. You could almost read his thoughts, “It wasn’t supposed to happen this way, I was willing to give into the clamor of the fans and put this guy in and watch him flame out so we could be done with the whole Tebow experiment and go back to finding ourselves the kind of pure passing quarterback the Broncos deserve.”
They say he can’t throw a pass, how he’s got the worst mechanics of any NFL QB we’ve ever seen and I’ll readily admit that he’s thrown some of the worst looking passes I’ve ever seen watching pro football, but here’s a stat that overrides all of that, I call it “the Tebow 4th quarter clutch factor”:
Ugly as he can look in the first three quarters, through seven games, Tim Tebow has a quarterback rating of 109.7 in the 4th quarter and a rating of 120 when his team is within 7 points. To put that in perspective, in an 11-year Super Bowl winning career, Drew Brees has logged a QB rating of over 100 for the season only three times, with the highest at 109.6.
The scary thing is, I have a feeling that if Tebow can do it in the 4th, one day he’ll figure it out and learn to play with the same mindset and passing accuracy in the other three quarters, and when Tim Tebow learns to take his Tebow Magic and spread it across all four quarters . . . look out NFL!
As a Raider fan, even when the Broncos were too far back in the standings to worry about them, it was still such a strange thing to feel my Raider heart rooting for this Tebow kid in a Bronco uniform, but now that the Bronco team that was a hapless 1-4 have come storming back to win 6 out of 7, tying the Raiders for the AFC West lead at 7-5, it’s time to recheck my allegiances.
I’ll say it right now – Tim Tebow, I predict you will win every game to finish out the year and make the playoffs, I predict you will beat each team you meet in the playoffs and I predict that you, Tim Tebow will win the Super Bowl and be awarded the MVP.
This is Raider fan and yes, I just put the jinx on you, Tim Tebow.
May Jesus have mercy on me.