Tim Tebow: Falling Toward Apotheosis

As the NFL season winds down, folks are going downright crazy over Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow, anointing him the new Chosen One, the new god of QBs. The problem is, I honestly cannot see what all the fuss is about. Sure, he’s pulled off some wins, but Tebow is actually the Twilight of quarterbacks — he inspires a delirious, inexplicable adoration that is completely out of proportion to the intrinsic quality of his play.

The refrain for Tebow’s vocal chorus of supporters goes something like this: “He has 5 comeback wins this season.” “All he does is win.” I will stipulate the 5 wins part, but take strong issue with the “all he does is win” bit. I would amend that to “All he does is play (sorta) for a team that wins.” And to say that Tebow “does just enough to win” is probably being generous. The man has skills — there’s no denying that — but he’s no supernatural phenomenon.

Take yesterday’s (Dec. 11, 2011) victory over the Chicago Bears in overtime. Partisans will say Tebow “led” the team to the tying score with time running out, and then marched them to victory in overtime. I say Tebow managed to get the team across the 50-yard line so that kicker Matt Prater could boot a 59-yard field goal to tie the game, and then launch a 51-yarder for the OT win. Think about that: It took a 59-yard kick to tie the score, and a 51-yarder to win it. Talk about making it tough on your kicker — even in the rarified air of the Mile High City. Tebow also wasn’t responsible for Bears running back Marion Barber’s brain vapor-locking twice to hand the Broncos the game on a silver platter.

As for Tebow’s five come-from-behind wins… uh, what else ya got? Eli Manning of the New York Football Giants has six comeback wins. Eli has also tossed 14 fourth-quarter touchdowns this season, tying a mark set by his older brother, Peyton, and the legendary Johnny Unitas (who did it in a 12-game season). You’ll notice who is not on that list: Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees,  Tom “I Can’t Beat the Giants When It Counts” Brady — and Tebow. Eli is certain to set the new mark, since he has three games to go. But where is the adulation for Eli? The man should be a legitimate MVP candidate. He’s far more deserving of adulation than Tebow, and unlike the Broncos tyro, Eli has paid his dues.

A lot is made of Tebow’s religious showboating, but lots of other people are very public about their worship. I’ll leave the judging for others, but would point out something from the Bible that Tebow seems to have forgotten:

“And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.” — Matthew 6:5-6

“If you believe,” Tebow was quoted as saying, “then unbelievable things can sometimes be possible.” To me, the most unbelievable thing is the Cult of Tebow. He’s been in the right place at the right time — under center when the clock runs out — to soak up the adoration. His advocates love to praise him, stressing a kind of  “Us Against the World” attitude mixed with a (mythical) anti-Christian persecution complex, but that doesn’t change Tebow’s dismal stats. I second the words of Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher, when asked about Tebow’s QB skills: “He’s a good running back.”

Let’s see what happens when the Broncos inevitably lose a close game with Tebow at the helm. Will he still be sent from heaven then? We all know the old saying about head coaches getting too much credit for wins and too much blame for losses. Will the same hold true for the current golden god of NFL quarterbacks? How long before people start jumping ship from Team Tim?

We’ll see who’s still standing in January…

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