It is hard to recall in my 50 years of watching sports an athlete who was not an All Star and made an outrageous amount of money take so much abuse. It is not like he was the highest rated player in the NFL draft who tanked, or drank away his talent, or became a druggie. His limitations coming out of the University of Florida were well known and it was understood by us all that to play he would have to be fitted into a system that matched his unorthodox talents. He found a situation in Denver for one season in which his talents in ball control, running, game management, and long range passing could be put to good use. He succeeded and led his team to a division championship, albeit with a .500 record, but he wasn't the first quarterback to do that. He led the Broncos to a playoff victory against the vaunted Pittsburgh Steelers. He was interesting, exciting, and great television. His games in that late season stretch garnered the highest TV ratings for NFL regular season games in almost two generations. Much to the anger of NFL purists.
Obviously the fact that Tebow wears his religion on his sleeves irritates many people, particularly here in the northeast, and a generation ago he would have been told quietly by television executives that his public displays were a violation of church and state, as applied to television's "fairness doctrine,' and to stop. But the fairness doctrine was ended by the FCC, networks now fall all over themselves to appeal to religious activists, and Tebow is a religious icon at the very time when the United States is experiencing one of its periodic religious revivals. Therefore it is not religion that bothers the talking heads at ESPN, the print scribblers looking for their next headline, or the rest of us indoctrinated by the latest football jargon.
What bothers us is that Tebow represents the general sports audience that is more interested in the entertainment of football, the exciting runs and long passes and spectacular hits, and could care less about the Cover 2, value picks, or whether Tim Tebow meets the quarterback requirements of Jon Gruden.
Most quarterbacks who come into the NFL, or even play in the NFL, do not succeed, do not put up great numbers, and are soon replaced by the next candidate. We dwell on the winners, the all Pros, but they are the minority. Most NFL quarterbacks have had, and always will have, limitations. Tim Tebow has limitations and should most properly be placed in the same category with quarterbacks with limitations.
Yet the allegation that Tebow is the worst quarterback who ever played, or is no good, or can't play in the NFL, is utter nonsense.
And any coach, player, or GM who can't handle an alleged "distraction" of a popular player is in the wrong business because football is entertainment and entertainment is nothing but a distraction. In fact that is it's purpose: to distract us from the more serious concerns in life. Football is supposed to be fun, not a life and death query about whether an unorthodox quarterback has a place in the contemporary NFL.
My guess is that Tebow will be on an NFL roster in September because his talents can be utilized by many teams in the NFL.
Indeed the stretch run of the Jets late last year proved Tebow's talents could have been utilized. When Rex Ryan thought his job was on the line without a playoff berth he went to a conservative offense and essentially put Sanchez in a straight jacket. Sanchez essentially handed the ball off and only threw on third down. The defense did the rest. This plan came unglued in a bizarre sequence of Sanchez's ball handling against the Titans but there was no question about what Ryan wanted to do. But for some broken ribs, Tebow might have directed that safe strategy.
Yes, Tebow has limitations. But please.....stop masquerading prejudice for analysis.