At some point in the future I expect Webster’s Dictionary to change the definition of “polarizing” to Tim Tebow. He epitomizes the word in every sense. From the Tebowites to his haters, no figure in sports in recent years has sparked more passion from both sides of fandom.
It is clear as crystal why most Tebowites have an unwavering support for him; it began when he was at the University of Florida.
He was used situationally in 2006 when the Florida Gators won the National Championship his freshman year, co-existing with starting quarterback Chris Leak. The next year he became the first sophomore to win the Heisman, after posting 55 total touchdowns, setting the SEC rushing TD record with 20. In 2008, the Gators cruised through their first three games, then hit a bump in the road against Ole Miss, which prompted one of the greatest speeches (if not the greatest) in Gator history. The speech has been simply named “The Promise”, and Tebow and the rest of the team delivered; capping off their season with a second National Championship in three years.
His senior year didn’t go as well as GatorNation had anticipated, but in his final game in the Florida Orange and Blue, Tebow completed 31 of 35 passes for 482 yards and 3 touchdowns and accounted for 4 total TDs and 533 yards of total offense, which set a record for a BCS game.
Every step of the way he did it with grace, dignity, and humility; putting losses solely on his own shoulders and never taking credit for victories. He was the man fathers dreamed of their daughter’s marrying and the player who led the Gators to greatness.
You’d be hard pressed to find a Florida fan that doesn’t consider him one of the greatest Gators of all time, so it was easy for many to follow their love for Tebow to Denver. A lot of people 30-50 years old who never followed the NFL started buying all things Broncos when they drafted Tebow. Many people translated what Tebow did on Florida Field to a successful NFL career. They made his #15 jersey the highest rookie seller in history. They filled Mile High/Sports Authority Field every game, many even flying across country for just a glimpse of their hero. They screamed for him to start, causing a media uproar. They paid for billboards demanding John Fox to replace Kyle Orton with him. Last season, at 1-4, they got their wish. People laughed at the Broncos for “giving in”. And then something happened. The Broncos started to win, many victories coming in late game efforts attributed to Tim Tebow.
ESPN transformed into TESPN. Skip Bayless couldn’t stop singing his praises. His fans grew in number, and some became even more passionate. And yes, to counter the naysayers, some became crazed in their defense of him. Were some people over the top? Absolutely.
But just as there were crazy, overzealous supporters, there were the equally crazy haters.
They said his winning was a fluke. They said it wasn’t him, it was the defense. They personally attacked him for his religious views. They pointed and laughed at his failures. They continually put down his fans, calling them every name they could come up with. It seemed as if the “other side” was just as fanatical about Tebow as his supporters.
And that’s the problem I have with Tebowmania: some people get so caught up with the frenzy, they don’t see that they are the ones driving it.
When Peyton Manning signed with the Denver Broncos it was quite obvious John Elway & Co were looking to trade the kid that not only helped take them to the playoffs, but who helped line their pockets with cash. The Anti-Tebowites made their jokes and immediately sent him back home to Jacksonville, a team who in itself has seen its fair share of jokes over the last few seasons. When the news broke that Tebow was heading to the New York Jets (the first time) New York fans had mixed reviews. Most didn’t seem to mind, whether they are just sick of the Mark Sanchez Experiment or just faithful fans to their beloved franchise. Yes, some New York media (and others) scoffed especially after it was found there was a slight snag in the wording of the contract that sent the two sides back to the negotiating table. And so the circus put back up their tents, waiting for the next act to begin.
We’re now on Act III after another discrepancy which needs Tebow to sign a new contract and be on the Bronco’s books for 24 hours. I don’t know what the end result of Tebow as a Jet will be. What I do know is this: you don’t put forth this much effort if you don’t really want someone or something. If you see an ad for a used car at one price, then take the time to research said car and go to the dealership, then find out when all is said and done the APR is higher than expected and your monthly payments are not what you can afford you have three options. You can either walk away, you can try to renegotiate the price, or you can accept it the way it is and sign on the dotted line. The Jets renegotiated the deal and made a new offer; maybe because the second vehicle was that worth it to them, or maybe because their main ride is growing tiresome.
Whatever the end goal is, the Jets will have two cars parked in their garage, and we’ll have to wait and see who gets driven more in the fall. In the meantime, maybe the pro-and Anti-Tebow sides can learn a lesson: If you can’t stand the hype (good or bad) don’t fuel it. There are far more pressing issues in this country than trying to one-up the other in regards to Timothy Richard Tebow. Take that energy and focus it on something more productive, trust me, we all can co-exist.