Hearing differing opinions from polarizing personalities in sports is nothing new. In fact, ESPN has built an entire squadron of afternoon talk shows based on the concept of weighing the positives and negatives of tremendously talented athletes who come with a lot of off-the-field baggage.
Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow has turned that old version of the debate on its ear.
It’s hard to remember a single other unproven player in the recent past who evoked as much support and love from fans based strictly on his off-the-field beliefs and laurels as much as this guy.
Tebow’s well-known Christian religious affiliation and dedication to a particularly “clean” way of living has endeared him to spiritual figures all over Denver, and many regular fans who just want a good guy to root for.
But the question is: Are fellow Evangelical Christians rooting for Tim Tebow to win the starting job simply because of his religion?
Dr. James Dobson, founder of Focus on the Family says that's not the case. Based in Colorado Springs, CO., Dobson would love for his guy, Tebow, to do well on the field but he would "never pray for him to be the starting quarterback" because that would be "arrogant" and he wants the starting quarterback to be the best player -- not picked because of his religion
During an interview with Mason and Ireland on 710 KSPN on Wednesday, Dobson had this to say:
“Evangelical Christians in Colorado want to see him play -- because of his QB abilities, not because of his faith."
It’s a nice sentiment, but a bit misleading. When confronted with the fact that nobody outside of Tebow’s cult following believes he actually deserves the starting quarterback job, Dobson stammered his way to an excuse.
That, unfortunately, has become typical amongst Tebow’s fanatical fans who have no understanding of why Tebow is in his current predicament or, why so many experts agree that he’s just not worthy of a starting NFL quarterback gig.
Coming off a 2009 campaign where the team started off tremendously hot before sputtering to an embarrassing 8-8 conclusion, the Broncos organization and head coach Josh McDaniels felt like they needed to make a big move. And so, against conventional wisdom, that’s exactly what they ended up doing.
Tebow was drafted with the 25th overall pick by the Broncos in 2010. The move was met with a lot of criticism, largely because very few scouts and draft gurus envisioned any sort legitimate future at the quarterback position for him in the league. Despite those unenthusiastic projections, Tebow’s jersey was the highest selling among active players before the guy ever even played a regular season game.
Little did anyone know, but Tebow’s jersey flying off the shelves like it did was a nifty window into what the future held.
Over the course of the 2010 season, Tebow performed more or less to the tepid expectations that the experts had for him. He sat behind Denver’s starting quarterback, Orton, and said all of the right things. He knew that he was supposed to be the future, and he recognized that the Broncos’ head coach at the time, McDaniels, had a plan for him.
At the end of last season, Tebow got the opportunity to start for the final three games – he ended up going 1-2.
During the offseason, the Broncos realized that they needed to make a change at the top of the organization. They brought in former quarterback legend, John Elway, and made him Executive Vice President of Football Operations. They also hired former Carolina Panthers head coach, John Fox, to fill the hole left behind by McDaniels – who had been fired back in December.
Both Elway and Fox immediately realized the level of adoration that existed for Tebow in the city of Denver. They knew that fans wanted to see the guy restore dignity to the Broncos franchise, and that in order to avoid a season long quarterback controversy, they would have to trade the team’s current starter, Orton.
With the mindset of making Tebow the starter and moving Orton, the Broncos returned to the field following a long summer lockout and began to prepare for the coming season. Much to the chagrin of all parties involved, it quickly became abundantly clear that, once again, Tebow was simply not ready to be a starter in the league. He didn’t have what it takes, plain in simple. This was all but spelled out by management, coaching staff and the experts who knew this would be the case all along.
Orton was quickly pulled off the trading block, and Tebow returned to riding the pine.
Yet for some reason, the simple concept of “he’s not good enough” does not appear to be sinking in with Tebow’s fans, particularly those of an especially religious ilk. They just can’t grasp the seemingly obvious idea that everyone wants Tebow to start -- if for no other reason than to avoid all of headaches that come with him not starting -- but he’s just not good enough to take the job away from Orton.
Tebow will start when he’s ready, end of story. And anyone who turns this whole mess into a religious battle is doing themselves, Tebow and their religion a massive disservice.