By Jason Keidel
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After the abject trial balloon with the Jets, you never got the sense Tim Tebow got his chance to star or even start in the NFL.
Indeed, his tortured year in New Jersey was far more a referendum on the Gang Green than Tebow, who played the good soldier while he was used as a glorified wishbone quarterback, special teams specialist and glittering clipboard holder.
It’s easy to scowl at his prehistoric throwing motion, or to dismiss him as the Archie Griffin of quarterbacks, perfectly contoured for the college game, but too slow or laborious to prosper in the pros.
But Tebow did win in Denver. And he did win a playoff game, beating my beloved black and gold, who were 12-4 entering the game.
Chip Kelly, the mad scientist with the avant-garde offense, sees something in Tebow. But we know better than an NFL head coach who puts up Playstation points.
If this were Bryce Petty or Brett Hundley or any other quarterback, the news wouldn’t even be news. It would just be another blue-collar QB trying to make a squad. But Tebow is the third rail of NFL discourse.
Rarely has a man who does so many things right been regarded with such rancor. Most of it has to do with Tebow’s monolithic religious beliefs. Rooting for or against Tebow is seen as a ballot box on secular or Christian mores.
We chide him for being so singular in his beliefs, for saving his virginity for marriage, for swearing off swearing, for being so accessible and decent. Maybe he would be better served by saving some of his more controversial views to himself. But he’s hardly a menace.
Why can’t we root for Tebow because he’s a good guy who’s sweating his tail off to realize his dreams? We lament the NFL for its cadre of criminals, then we abhor someone because he wears God on his sleeve. The last 12 months have been a haunting montage of malfeasance. Aaron Hernandez, one of Tebow’s teammates at Florida, was just convicted of first-degree murder, and is awaiting another trial for more of the same.
Tebow has literally traveled the world to help the less fortunate. He’s visited prisons to preach the Gospel. But that somehow makes him polarizing, if not downright demonic.
I, for one, am not even religious. But I respect anyone who uses theirs to do some darn good. Sure, he pushed the envelope when he did that pro-life commercial a few years back, but that was little more than exercising his First Amendment right to state an opinion.
Tebow is also smart and articulate and handsome, which attracts its own merry band of haters. But if you take a wider lens to Tebow, you’ll see he’s one of us, a working stiff who’s just trying to get a job. He harms no one, helps many, and is the very role mode we allegedly covet.
We are a paradox, loving to loathe someone just for being different, dynamic or dedicated. The folks who thought he would be a star look a little silly and those who promised us he’d never play again feel slighted.
Maybe Tim Tebow is somewhere in the middle. Like the rest of us.
Follow Jason on Twitter at @JasonKeidel