(subtitle: Theismann vs. Heisman)
For a guy whose stock has fallen off the table in the NFL draft, former Heismann winner Tim Tebow is sure getting more buzz ahead of he Super Bowl than, say Peyton Manning and Drew Brees, the quarterbacks who are actually in the game. Tebow has not yet played even a single down in the NFL and at least one former quarterback and respected commentator thinks he should keep it that way.
Tebow, who is the son of missionaries and grew up in a very fundamentalist household, is well known for wearing his Christianity on his sleeve (well actually wearing it on his face, writing Bible verses on his cheeks before every game.)
This week there is a big brouhaha over CBS' decision to air an anti-abortion ad featuring Tebow and his mother (who refused the advice of doctors to get an abortion because of her health and had him anyway) during the Super Bowl. Last year CBS said they would start allowing more controversial ads during the Super Bowl, but then they turned around and refused to allow an ad from ManCrunch, a gay dating organization. So apparently their newfound tolerance in advertising only works one way. CBS then got in even deeper when they kept changing their story on the ManCrunch ad. First they said ad space was sold out for the Super Bowl. Then when it was shown that the ManCrunch ad had been submitted to them before some ads that were approved, they questioned whether the company could pay for the ad. When it was shown that they could and had the money available, CBS had to say it was about 'standards.' OK, at least they admit they have more than one set of standards.
There are of course those who claim that the real reason for the controversy over Tebow is his Christianity. But that is ridiculous. Lots of NFL players are Christians and quite open about it. You don't see for example, anything but praise for Drew Brees, a Christian quarterback who actually should be getting more attention before the Super Bowl than Tebow (I mean, like, Brees will actually be PLAYING Sunday, shouldn't that count for something?) Rather, it almost seems as if Tebow is hogging all the attention by putting his personal views on abortion ahead of the game itself, and whether he deserves that criticism or not has now become a punching bag for CBS' hypocritical position on accepting ads.
A bigger problem for Tebow is that even well ahead of draft day he's getting a reception from the NFL that is downright frosty. For starters, scouts have said that he doesn't have the skills to play in the NFL and downgraded his status to a third or fourth round pick at best.
Then, following rumors that the Jacksonville Jaguars might use their first round pick on Tebow (he played at the University of Florida and the Jags attendance is about what you'd expect for an expansion team that has worn out its welcome and is the least competitive team in what might be the NFL's toughest division,) a Jags player, and more specifically an offensive lineman unloaded on Tebow.
according to the Florida Times-Union:
[Offensive lineman Uche] Nwaneri posted on the Jaguars’ Web site that, while cashing a check, a bank teller started talking about how Tebow will save the Jaguars.
So Nwaneri posted his five points on Tebow, with capital letters:
"1. He can't throw, PERIOD.
2. He can't read any coverage other than probably cover 2 or man.
3. The QB Wildcat WILL NOT WORK IN THIS LEAGUE. PERIOD.
4. He doesn’t know how to take a snap from center.
5. HE CAN’T THROW, and that’s really something you either have or not."
Keep in mind that this is from one of the men who is supposed to put his body on the line to protect the quarterback from the Elvis Dumervils and the Dwight Freeneys of the NFL. In fact, he faces Freeney twice a year and wants to feel confident that the guy he's protecting is worth the beating his body takes keeping guys like that out of the backfield every week.
You can hear the frustration in Nwaneri's post. One of the few perks that come with losing is that your team gets a better position in the draft, which in theory should translate to better players. But if his team reaches up to burn their first round pick on a guy who they could probably get in the third round, his frustration would be justified. The idea that Tebow would put fans in the seats is ridiculous. He might for a few games, and as the columnist of the linked article points out,
even if Nwaneri and the legions of critics are right that Tebow is bound for NFL flopdom, I guarantee thousands of Georgia fans would be willing to make the drive down to the site of so many Cocktail Party aggravations for the sole purpose of watching their former tormenter operate behind a line that might not feel much like blocking for him.
Well, there is that. But if Jacksonville owner Wayne Weaver is serious about attendance then he should be serious about using his first round and subsequent picks to put together a team that will win games, not bring out legions of anti-Tebow fans who will enjoy it every time Freeney or some other NFL Defensive nightmare blasts through the line and delivers a crunching hit on Tebow.
Nwaneri's comments are downright tame compared to the broadside delivered by a former NFL great. Former Washington Redskins quarterback Joe Theismann, who was known as a gentleman in the broadcast booth during an eighteen year stint with ESPN because he is loathe to criticize other players (and recognizing from personal experience what they risk every time they take the field,) said that Tebow should retire before draft day and not even try playing in the NFL.
Via Pro Football Talk, Theismann explained why:
"Rock star status preserved," Theismann said.
"Obviously at Florida they don't teach throwing the football," Theismann opined in explaining that Tebow's mechanics are "poor." Theismann also said that Urban Meyer and his staff have "no clue" regarding the process for preparing a quarterback to play "at the next level."
Retire now advises Joe, so at least he can still claim that he was too good for the NFL instead of too awful. Ouch, that one's gotta sting.
Of course the former Heisman winner will enter the draft, and if he's lucky even get drafted way ahead of where he should be by Jacksonville. And, give him a chance-- a lot of good players have been drafted low and turned out to be better than the scouts predicted (don't forget that Dallas quarterback Tony Romo, who led the Cowboys to the playoffs this year and played in the pro bowl wasn't even drafted at all in 2003.)
But from day one, the spotlight will be burning hot on Tebow. And he'll need to bear up a lot better than he did when he lost to Alabama in the SCC championship game (hint: in the NFL men don't cry when they lose-- add 'crybaby' to the list of insults and ephithets he will hear every time he goes on the road.) And despite what anyone may say, it will burn hot on him because he's invited it.