As the man who compiles Football Nation's Top 100 Quarterbacks Since the Merger list, I'd be lying if I said Tebow was, at this time, qualified for the list. The No. 100 entry, Gus Frerotte, had a rather distinguished career as a journeyman backup, and was one of the best seventh round picks in recent memory.
Tebow, to my way of thinking, hasn't quite done enough to surpass Frerotte's 15 years of service as a very reliable understudy. But at age 25, there's plenty of time for the youngster to prove his mettle.
Shame he's having a hard time finding work.
You'd think the Tim Tebow who rallied the Denver Broncos to victory after victory in 2011, a number of those wins coming in backs-to-the-wall fourth quarter scenarios, would be in better demand. Granted, his style is highly unorthodox, and his career completion percentage of 47.9 percent is dismal, but he wins games.
Tebow's a clutch quarterback that wins games, is only 25 years old, and is a squeaky-clean, law-abiding role model. What's stopping teams from breaking down his door?
They know he resides with a circus, that's what.
Even before Tebow made his NFL debut, his celebrity at the University of Florida reached Athletic-Elvis proportions. He became the first sophomore to win the Heisman Trophy, as his public image, that of a man enthusiastically unashamed of his faith in God and Jesus Christ, soared.
And unashamed he is. In a time where the role of religion in society is questioned very openly, here's the Gators' quarterback, writing scripture on his eye-black, and appearing in commercials for the pro-life group Focus on the Family.
To the unchurched and the merely-passively faithful, Tebow came off as obnoxious, but at least earnest, in his message. To those who share his faith, Tebow was an identifiable hero, someone to admire for spreading the word of God in a not-always-welcoming secular world.
It comes as no surprise that ESPN would do everything in its power to cash in on the young man's celebrity.
The "Worldwide Leader in Sports" has the loudest voice of anyone in athletic-media, and it's sadly become less dulcet and more screeching with each passing year.
ESPN, at its worst, mixes inflammatory debate with baited speculation, and wave after wave of emphasis on polarizing figures, all under the guise of "journalism."
The Bristol giant latches onto viral videos and inane tweets with its hideous tentacles, because there's really no other way to present 24 hours of fresh content a day without dunking their head into putrid currents.
Any athlete who's unique gets Code Red coverage by the network, to the point where you're sick of hearing about them.
An Asian-American succeeding in the NBA (brief as it was)? A woman making it in open-wheel racing (even if she comes in 34th place, she gets more press than the actual winner)? A trio of NBA stars fulfilling a two-year-old pact to all play for the same team to maximize their championship glories (especially if two of them tweet back and forth during a Cowboys-Bears game, which the ESPN anchors will then act out with a live reading)?
All of these are more important than final scores and jockeying for divisional position, because ESPN is Access Hollywood, and Jeremy Lin, Danica Patrick, Lebron James, and Dwyane Wade are their Kim Kardashian, Charlie Sheen, Kanye West, and Justin Bieber.
Betcha Tim Tebow, as he walked through missionaries in the Phillippines, never thought he'd be ESPN's Linsday Lohan.
It began innocently enough with his time at Florida, where he broke out as both a gifted player, and a unique personality.
It continued with his concussion suffered in a 2009 game against Kentucky, when ESPN2 cameras made sure to highlight every single horrified and/or crying Tebow fan in the crowd, with Brent Musburger somberly stating, "Our thoughts and prayers are with the Tebow family", as if he'd just been kidnapped by warlords halfway across the world.
The hype died down a smidge when he was learning the ropes in Josh McDaniels' Denver system, but picked back up when Tebow became the Broncos' man in the fall of 2011. That's when "Tebowing" began.
Ahh yes, the trend of mimmicking Tebow's kneeling, genuflective pose became a viral fad, with ESPN, naturally, reporting on the phenomenon, as if any day now, the visage of Tebow was going to appear in slices of bread. It was like planking, except SportsCenter and First Take didn't show enough planking photos to fill a dozen scrapbooks.
But the hype had a little merit: Tebow valiantly led Denver to a series of fourth quarter comebacks (which were necessitated by his first-half ineffectiveness, largely), and pulled off an astonishing overtime playoff win over the Pittsburgh Steelers.
The loss to New England a week later was Tebow's last game with Denver, as executive VP John Elway, who knows a thing or two about quarterbacks, traded Tebow to the Jets. That's because Elway brought in future Hall of Famer Peyton Manning, one of only a handful of quarterbacks in history that's in Elway's league.
Compared to Mark Sanchez's ineptitude, Tebow could easly have been the starter in New York, but Rex Ryan and Tony Sparano didn't go in that direction. Instead, Tebow threw just 8 passes, and watched with the rest of the world as Sanchez's one-man Keystone Kops routine eradicated any credibility he had.
But Tebow shouldn't feel too bad about his lack of playing time in New York. He had a birthday party, after all.
Yep, you remember the day: August 14, 2012. That's when ESPN had Sara Walsh, Herm Edwards, and Marcellus Wiley don party hats, and use valuable airtime to celebrate Tebow's birthday.
Former ESPN Radio host Doug Gottlieb confirmed what anyone with a brain inherently understood, that on-air personalities have to work Tebow mentions in here and there, regardless of the matter at hand. Tebow's tops the list of focus-group trends that dictates what ESPN fills their airtime with.
This verbal suffocation was also confirmed by Bob Wischusen, radio voice of the New York Jets, as he broadcasted a Butler/Xavier basketball game in November. Wischusen's partner, Dan Dakich, brought up Tebow several times, to which Wischusen stated:
"Didn't we get word from Bristol that we had actually allowed, like, 11 minutes of airtime to go by without mentioning Tebow? I think that's the standard company rule. Every 15 minutes of every program, regardless of what sport is being aired, Tim Tebow must be mentioned. So good job of you following the company line."
Bob Ley, arguably ESPN's most respected personality, has taken little shots at the network for their love of Tebowmania. Scott Van Pelt, who openly railed against Bud Selig in 2009 (receiving a suspension for it), and is less of a faceless puppet than most Bristolites, has done the same.
Most recently, the day the Jets released Tebow, visitors to ESPN.com pointed out that the story was number one on the newsroll, one spot ahead of NBA player Jason Collins' admission of homosexuality. Hours later, presumably after the reader backlash made some collars hot at ESPN, the stories were flipped around.
And this isn't even mentioning his tenure with the Jets. From training camp (no team received more offseason coverage from ESPN than the New York team that *didn't* win the Super Bowl), to the way Sanchez unraveled through the season (with the talking heads debating every Monday: is it Tebow Time?), the Jets were Steve-O and a bearded lady away from being a full-blown freak show.
Sanchez isn't free from the claws of aggressive speculation either; now he has to deal with "Sanchize vs. Geno" stories out the pipe. But that just means ESPN has two stories to beat to death this summer.
That one, and the one about Tebow, wherever he ends up, or if he ends up anywhere at all.
Put yourselves into the shoes of an NFL GM. If you're Howie Roseman of the Eagles, maybe you recognize that Tebow could possibly run Chip Kelly's no-huddle, constant-pressure offense, due to its speed, and its familiarity to a college style.
But if you're Roseman and Kelly, do you want Nick Foles or Matt Barkley to be looking over their shoulder, with Tebowmaniacs invading the Linc to chant "WE WANT TEBOW!" every time either one throws a wayward pass? And do you want your players getting raked over the coals by the "journalists" who need to fill 24 hours with anything attention-getting?
Bears GM Phil Emery may or may not have complete faith in Jay Cutler, but if he brought Tebow to town, that's more headaches for an incoming coach, and a frustrated fanbase.
Jacksonville seemed a delectable option for Tebow, given its proximity to Gainesville, but Shahid Khan and GM Dave Caldwell have been apprehensive thus far.
And it's not because Blaine Gabbert and Chad Henne are world-beaters; it's because they probably know the thorn-in-the-eye that Tebow, perhaps involuntarily, brings with him.
Other than being extremely open about his faith, and popularizing the "Tebowing" trend (he went as far as to copyright the name of it, after a legal battle with some Broncos fans), Tebow has done nothing to further his drawn-out public image, except be too courteous to tell ESPN to shut up, and have a little more journalistic integrity. That'd be a headline for sure.
I'm not a religious person, but I could deal with Tim Tebow praising his savior all he wants, as long as he's a good player who's exciting to watch.
It's when ESPN praises *their* savior that I, and many others, keep a considerable distance.
And unfortunately for Tebow, some of those making tracks are potential employers.