When I decided to write this week’s column on Tim Tebow, I was fully aware of the reaction it might cause. It seems that Tebow is one of the most divisive figures in football and maybe in all of sports and entertainment, comparable to controversial personas like Justin Bieber, Lebron James and Johnny Manziel.
If you’ve turned on ESPN at any point during the last 48 hours, you know that the Philadelphia Eagles have recently signed the free agent quarterback to a one-year deal. While signing Tebow in the offseason certainly does not guarantee that he will make the 53-man roster to start the regular (see 2013 with the Patriots), it’s hard not to imagine what Tim Tebow might do in a Chip Kelly offense.
As tempted as I was to write this column on why Tebow will win the starting job for the Eagles this season, I refrained (but if you want to discuss this via email, feel free to reach out to me). The point of this column is not to convince you that Tebow is a good quarterback — I’ll leave that to Skip Bayless and company. Rather, I argue that we should all be rooting for Tim Tebow, as him being in the league and potentially becoming a star again is good for the NFL.
I’ll start with a question to anyone reading this: Why is Tim Tebow one of the most hated people in football?
In August 2013, Complex Magazine listed Tebow as the 26th most hated player in all of sports, which I still cannot fathom. How can there be so much vitriol toward an athlete who has only sought to better those around him, both on and off the field?
A few years ago, I remember being in awe after reading a Rick Reilly column on Tebow. As Reilly explained, during his season with the Broncos in which he took a team that started 1-4 to the second round of the playoffs, Tebow flew someone ill or dying to his games each and every week, along with their families. Tebow provided them with a rental car, hotel, tickets to the game and met with them both before and after the game.
As Reilly recounts, after the Broncos beat the Steelers in the first round of the playoffs, Tebow spent time with a 16-year-old girl he had flown out to that week’s game who had been through 73 surgeries. Rather than celebrating the highest moment of his NFL career, Tebow elected to prioritize introducing his guest to his fellow players and coaches—pretty incredible if you ask me.
Clearly, Tebow is not the only player that has given back off the field, as many players have foundations that do many positive things for others. All I’m saying is that Tebow has clearly used his personal fame to positively impact the lives of others, and as a fan of the NFL and an observer of the numerous off-the-field incidents that we’ve witnessed in the past year, I certainly hope that more players can emulate his example.
Secondly, Tebow serves as an inspiration of the oft-thrown-around cliche, “Never give up on your dreams.” Think about it: he was consistently told throughout his college days that his game would not translate to the NFL, yet he was selected in the first round of the draft. When he finally got the opportunity to play at the pro level, he took his team to the playoffs.
Rather than having the starting job the next season, he was traded to the Jets and was backup to Mark Sanchez throughout the entirety of an 6-10 season. In fact, not only was he the backup quarterback, but he was also asked to play on punt protection the entire season, and did so without ever complaining to the media. What other two-time collegiate National Champion, Heisman trophy winning, first-round quarterback would agree to punt protect on a 6-10 team?
After his only season in New York, Tebow failed to make the roster the next season for the New England Patriots, seemingly ending his NFL career. After signing a multi-year contract with ESPN’s new SEC Network as an analyst, Tebow’s hopes at playing quarterback in the NFL appeared slimmer than my hopes of playing in the NFL, despite his vow to “continue to pursue [his] dream of playing in the NFL.”
What many do not know is that throughout these past two seasons, Tebow has continued to train and work on his throwing motion, despite continually hearing from the media that his attempts are desperate and delusional. He has held on to his dream to make the NFL as a quarterback, even when offered the chance to play as tight end in the NFL.
To answer my original question, I think one of the reasons Tebow is so disliked is because of the disproportionate amount of media coverage he receives. After all, every football-related move he makes always seems to draw headlines. However, I’m not sure why people blame Tebow for this — he’s not the one writing the stories.
Others claim that all of the good that Tebow does promotes his own interests. Despite these claims circulating for the past five years, there has yet to be any evidence that this is the case. If Tebow’s only motive was to move up the depth chart, why would he have continued to make a positive impact in so many people’s lives even while out of the NFL for the past two years?
Every interview that I have read with someone who has had the chance to spend time with Tebow has been overwhelmingly positive, which should be more than enough reason to dispel these claims. Moreover, I don’t understand why people, including the media, continue to look for ways to spin Tebow’s clearly selfless actions as selfish, while simultaneously brushing stories of other players’ off-the-field incidents under the rug.
It seems that Tebow has landed in the perfect spot, as the quarterback situation in Philadelphia is currently less-than-stellar and his game seems to fit with Chip Kelly’s offensive style. It seems that all of his work is paying off. Now would be an incredibly easy time for Tebow to send out a simple tweet calling out all of the “haters” that have doubted him over the past few years.
But we all know that that isn’t Tim Tebow, and for this precise reason we should root for him.
Let Shawn Tuteja know who Chip Kelly’s archetypal quarterback really is by contacting him at sstuteja ‘at’ stanford.edu.