By Jason Keidel
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As we put a bow on Christmas, let’s unwrap our favorite Christian.
Tim Tebow, the most famous unemployed quarterback on earth, has just joined ESPN as a college football analyst. And it feels that each story about Tebow pushes him farther away from his stated goal, to be an NFL quarterback. And it dims one of the brighter journeys in sports.
The Tebow saga is complicated and confusing. After perhaps the best college career in history, he was drafted by the Denver Broncos, became a starter midway through the 2011 season, led them to the playoffs and then never started again.
No matter your personal feelings about Tebow, how can someone who won a playoff game — against a 12-4 Steelers team — not make an NFL roster? What exactly has he done since then to scare off every team and town on the pro football map?
Sure, the Jets’ experiment was a disaster. But that’s almost entirely on the Jets, who essentially traded for Tebow just for the bold, back-page ink. After promising an attack that would rival the Manhattan Project, they handed him a clipboard and heaved him onto the field about twice a game. His most heralded play was a fake punt.
His game has been dissected more than Obamacare. We’ve been told ad nauseam why he can’t play with the big boys, how his mangled mechanics are irreparable, how his celebrity obscures his deficiencies, how his stardom becomes a distraction.
Yes, there’s a certain irony in someone so pious being clouded by one of the seven sins: pride. Tebow should travel north and play in the CFL as a de facto audition for the league that has become alarmingly allergic to him. Canada was good enough for Warren Moon and Doug Flutie, so it’s hardly beneath Tebow or in any way a signal of surrender. But even sans more seasoning, Tebow is at least qualified as a third-stringer.
People often refer to Tebow as “controversial” and “polarizing” — terms usually reserved for those who have their mail forwarded to the police blotter.
What’s so polarizing about Tebow? He’s young, bright, handsome, articulate, respectful, charitable and incredibly hard-working. Yeah, he’s a real powder keg.
Controversial is a poorly-veiled euphemism for “religious,” which somehow makes him toxic. As I’ve said many times, I’m not religious. The only reason I’ve ever been to a church or synagogue is to attend a friend’s wedding or other life-affirming endeavor. I have nothing in common with Tebow other than we’re both American, male and football fans.
But I’d love Tebow on my team, even as a symbol, an avatar or a mission statement. He would instantly become the toughest player on any club, would be a great teammate and has a way of making things happen on the gridiron, no matter how ugly or unconventional his throwing motion may be.
Assuming every NFL roster has three quarterbacks, you cannot convince me that 96 of them are more able or accomplished than Tebow, who legitimately led an NFL to the postseason and won a game against my beloved black & gold, who were in the prior year’s Super Bowl and were heavily favored to beat the Broncos.
Tebow’s a bit obdurate, no doubt. He refuses to sharpen his softball-style, looping throwing motion in another league. He refuses to play anything but quarterback despite the fact that he could play other positions to make himself more useful.
But his hardened ethos and monolithic focus are what made him so successful in the first place. And surely they’re more than enough to get him onto some middling NFL team in 2014. Surely he looks better under center than behind a desk.
It’s the one time I’ll ask for some divine intervention.
Follow Jason on Twitter @JasonKeidel.
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