The case of Tim Tebow: A starting NFL quarterback

Tim Tebow is not your average public figure.

Despite becoming the first sophomore to win the Heisman Trophy and winning two National Championships with Florida, experts did not (and still do not) have very much faith in Tebow’s abilities to succeed at the NFL level. Renowned NFL draft expert Mel Kiper, Jr. expected Tebow to be drafted in the third round of the NFL draft. Some experts even expected him to sink in the draft even further, citing his throwing motion as a reason for why they believed he would fail at the next level.

When he finished his career at Florida, Tebow worked tirelessly to prepare for the NFL draft. Having already been established as one of the most popular NFL prospects in years despite the low expectations, Tebow was featured on ESPN as they followed his workout routine in the time leading up to the draft.

Fast forward to the day of the draft, Tebow was drafted in the first round by the Denver Broncos — proving Kiper, Jr. and many others wrong. In his 2010 rookie campaign in Denver, he contributed in any way he was asked and saw some action at random times, similar to how he was used his freshman year in college when Florida State won it all. He made three starts last season and even had a big game against a divisional opponent, quietly making his case to be considered as a potentially decent NFL quarterback someday.

In 2011, Tebow was behind starting quarterback Kyle Orton at the beginning of the season, and he also had to compete with Brady Quinn for the backup spot. By week 5, Orton had been struggling and new coach John Fox decided it was time to make a change. Fox made the bold decision to bench Orton late in the game in favor of Tebow, who ended up throwing for a touchdown and rushing for another in the 29-21 loss to the San Diego Chargers. Tebow’s performance prompted chants of “Tebow! Tebow! Tebow!” from the Denver fans, even in losing fashion.

A few days later, coach Fox took his support for Tebow one step further by officially naming him the starting quarterback. Without a doubt, it is a shocking turn of events considering Tebow was written off before he even graduated from college.

I find it really surprising to see so many people dismiss Tebow’s abilities. Tom Brady and Kurt Warner are quarterbacks that were totally irrelevant prior to their days in the NFL, and both have Super Bowl MVP trophies. With this in mind, common sense would say that the general public would have high expectations for someone like Tebow, who was obviously much more relevant as he entered the NFL and had a much better resume to show for with his national titles and Heisman Trophy.

With this, let’s look at some of those arguments against Tebow.

1.Greg Doyel at CBS Sports  tried arguing that Tebow was only successful in college because he fit into then-coach Urban Meyer’s offensive system. Nice try. The funny thing is that Tebow has now worked his way up the ranks to becoming a starting quarterback in the NFL, so if Tebow is compatible with another team at a higher level then obviously Doyel was wrong.

2. ESPN NFL analyst Merril Hoge (who predicted that Kellen Clemens was the best quarterback of his draft class and that Percy Harvin would be the biggest draft bust of 2009) has always hated Tebow with a passion. Hoge probably didn’t expect Tebow to be drafted, so when Tebow made a few appearances in the 2010 season, Hoge blew a gasket.

After watching three (yes, only three) of Tebow’s games from last year, Hoge concluded that Tebow’s performances were “embarrassing” and went on to criticize Tebow’s throwing motion.

What is he talking about? If anything, Tebow’s inaccurate throws last year were no different than any other raw rookie quarterback trying to get a feel for the NFL. Let’s not forget that Peyton Manning broke the record for interceptions his rookie year and now he will go down as one of the best quarterbacks ever to play the game.

I find it ridiculous that Hoge or anybody else would bother to criticize Tebow’s throwing motion. I don’t see how an unusual throwing motion could be a bad thing if a quarterback can still get the job done. Many experts thought that Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers’ odd throwing motion would prevent him from succeeding in the NFL. Meanwhile, Rivers has had a solid NFL career with three pro bowl selections and has led his team to several division titles and playoff appearances.

Off the Field

Tim Tebow does not help himself at all with his activity off the field. Tebow’s  strong religious and political views have painted a very controversial picture of him in the minds of sports fans around the country and he runs the risk of damaging his reputation. He should have kept his views to himself in order to avoid negative publicity — but instead he used Super Bowl commercials as a platform to spread his views to millions of viewers around the world. His Super Bowl commercial with homophobic group “Focus on the Family” resulted in Tebow losing endorsement deals.

While I don’t agree with Tebow’s political stances in the slightest, I personally look beyond his off-the-field activity and focus on his performance on the field for the Denver Broncos. And while I am not exactly a fan of Tebow, I think the critics are way in over their head and should realize that Tebow isn’t nearly as bad as they think. I would like to see Tebow succeed just to prove them wrong — notice the title of this piece has me intentionally mentioning that Tebow has become what nobody thought he would be: an NFL quarterback.

Merril Hoge and the rest of his critics will be watching closely next weekend when Tebow’s Broncos take on the Miami Dolphins, and I’m sure they will be hoping for the worst.

I’m hoping for the best.

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