The End Of Tebow-Mania?
This doesn’t have to be the end of Tebow Mania. Not necessarily.
It probably isn’t. The Fighting Tebows’ 41-23 loss to the New England Patriots was predictable, understandable, forgivable. Nothing about it, itself, turns the page on the Tebow narrative.
In football terms, Tebow’s half of Tim vs. Tom didn’t out him as a fraud, thought possible by the fabled grey matter of Bill Belichick’s oversized defensive mind: Fifty percent completion rate. One hundred ninety four yards passing. Ninety three yards rushing. Two touchdowns, both runs. No interceptions, his ninth clean sheet of the season.
In statistical terms, an .875 success rate, the Forgotten 52’s winning percentage with Tebow as starter, just wasn’t sustainable. Mighty as the Power of Tebow is, the Law of Averages had Denver losing eventually.
Ask the Green Bay Packers about that one.
So no: This doesn’t have to be the end of Tebow Mania. Not necessarily.
What this should be? A step back. A search for perspective. A time to discuss when the fizzle is coming, and why.
Can it come as soon as January 2012, if the Broncos miss the playoffs? As early as April 2012, if they select Matt Barkley or Landry Jones or Robert Griffin III or another freshly former collegian in the draft? Somewhere in between, if The Johns do to Tebow what The Josh did to Jay Cutler?
Will it be The Replacement’s NFL debut? His playoff debut?
Would that only reset it? Magnify it? Would it happen all over again in Denver—with the fan base’s passion and vigor taking form as resentment at John Elway and John Fox, as opposed to support for Tebow—if the next guy can’t replicate his predecessor’s winning charm? Would it happen all over again everywhere else if Tebow stays himself?
Rinse and repeat for another 17 weeks of news cycles?
All the talk so far has been about who Tebow is, as he this sets the table for a sociological case study to teach us something about ourselves. Why? The only thing confusing to this point is the confusion itself: What people don’t get about Tebow.
Everything about the man is painstakingly simple: His faith. His flaws.
Even his success.
On prohibitive mechanical issues that aren’t, apparently, prohibitive? Tebow’s delivery isn’t the first of its kind. Or the quirkiest. Or the winningest. (Cue: Michael Vick, Vince Young and their combined .602 winning percentage, not too far off the .655 and .613 of Aaron Rodgers and Dan Marino, both touted as the most refined passers of their times.)
On the Tebow-tailored offense? Welcome to the New World of grooming NFL quarterbacks, where play-callers play to the strengths of their up-and-comers. (Cue: Ron Rivera with Cam Newton.)
On why it’s worked? Because NFL coordinators hadn't seen the zone read option, and so haven't figured it out. Not yet.
On the ball security? His coaches only recently took off the training wheels.
On his six fourth-quarter come-from-behinds in his first 11 starts? The effects of pass-friendly rule changes are peaking, gift-wrapping Tebow’s two-year career in the five-years-running Age Of The Comeback. (Eli Manning—long questioned for his resolve and leadership, the two single-most important components of a comeback—has six late-game surges this season.)
On his defense’s turnaround? On McGahee’s renaissance? On Matt Prater’s improbable right foot?
They all believe. And, more than anything else, belief fuels the combustion engine that is a miracle.
Don’t misunderstand: This has to end eventually. Relevance has a shelf life. The Beatles, the first artists to receive “Album of the Year” considerations three years straight. (The streak was actually for five, between 1965-69.) So too will Lady Gaga, who in 2011 became the second.
Sure, people will remember. There will always be cult followings that never let the magic die, or retro movements that briefly jolt it back to being.
But it can’t be like this forever.
It can’t be $5,500 wagers on the Broncos long shot Super Bowl odds at Vegas sports book Bet At Luckys, or 161 percent single-month increases in Tebow merchandise sales, both true during the crest of this Tebow Thing according to Darren Rovell.
It can’t be last names made action verbs. It can’t be SNL skits and autotune remixes.
It can’t be all it is now.
Something has to give. Be it Tebow’s usefulness as a player, or our interest in “aw shucks” at the podium, Tebow can’t be always be Tebow.
It could be what fells every mega athlete, age and injury. It could be a higher calling; if sharp wits and steady hands have Myron Rolle ready to walk away for a career in neurosurgery, who’s to say that Philippine roots and the Word of God won’t tempt Tebow to do the same for Jesus Christ?
Not to mention the unthinkable: if the man many hyped as the “Next Coming Of Christ” becomes the next Tiger Woods.
For now, with the AFC West a top-to-bottom toss-up, we don’t have to worry about the end. The down-the-stretch grappling between the suddenly scary Chiefs, schizophrenic Chargers and comically curious Raiders—all legitimately viable contenders—should make for great theatre, if not Tebow Drama like we haven't yet seen.
But, mindful that it’s coming, we should more greatly appreciate what we have.
Something great. Something fun. Something unforgettable.
All somethings that have to end eventually.
(This story was written by Matt Hammond of 973espn.com)