In this week’s SI.com College Football Mailbag, Stewart Mandel addresses fans who complain of ‘Tebow Fatigue’.
I did not see the Fox telecast of the game, but … unless those guys inferred Tebow literally does leap over tall buildings in a single bound, I’m guessing everything they said is absolutely true.
I’ll admit it: I’m fully aboard the Tim Tebow bandwagon, and I couldn’t be happier that he’s returning for his senior year. In 10 years of covering this sport, I’ve never had so much fun watching a guy play — and I think it’s because of just how much fun he seems to be having.
[I’m cutting and pasting the entire article because I have little faith that it will be forever available on SI.com.]
I don’t know whether Tebow is one of the “greatest” players in history. I wouldn’t even know how to quantify that. In truth, he’s probably not even the most talented player on his own team. (See Harvin, Percy.)
But that won’t stop me from saying the following: Tebow is college football’s Michael Jordan.
Never in my lifetime has a player become the undisputed face of the sport. It’s a particularly hard feat to achieve considering college athletes only have a three-to-four year window. Much like M.J., Tebow has an aura and personality that enhance his on-field ability. Much like M.J., he’s become a role model for millions of kids. And just like M.J., he never ceases to amaze with his ability to take over a game.
That’s why I don’t get the backlash. Maybe I have amnesia, but I don’t remember too many people (besides Knicks fans) complaining about the adulation Jordan received during his heyday. Mostly, fans joined right in on the fawning because they appreciated just what a special talent they were watching.
But I suppose Jordan was fortunate in he played most of his career prior to the rise of the Internet. If there had been blogs in the 1920s, do you think fans would have been complaining about Red Smith’s “man crush” on Babe Ruth?
Tebow is hardly the first quarterback to lead his team to victories. We watched Joe Montana and John Elway do it in Super Bowls. We watched Vince Young do it against USC. But Tebow is an entirely different sort of quarterback than any before him. When have you ever seen a QB energize his team by barreling head-first into an opposing defender? When have you ever seen a QB whose most lethal throw is the shovel pass? And when have you ever seen a QB run around the field like a little kid raising his arms at the crowd in excitement?
While Tebow was a household name before arriving on campus — and even though he won his Heisman last year — the last three games he’s played, and the indelible images that emerged from them, have elevated his legacy to another level: His paint-soaked jersey against Florida State; his mad dash over to the kickoff team after icing the SEC title game against Alabama; and that championship-sealing jump pass against Oklahoma.
Call me cheesy, but I thought the purposefully drawn-out announcement of his return at Florida’s championship rally last Sunday was — for lack of a better word — awesome. It was just so Tebow. Like I said, the guy always seems like he’s having the time of his life, and that was yet another example of him having some fun. You can tell he genuinely enjoys energizing the fans.
Personally, I don’t care whether the guy is an “NFL quarterback.” I don’t care that he doesn’t have a laser arm or a “traditional delivery.” I just think he’s masterful at running the Gators’ offense and a heck of a lot of fun to watch. The missionary work, the prison speeches, et al., are added bonuses.
As for his place among the “all-time greats” — let’s wait ’til next year before throwing that kind of stuff around. In the meantime, I hope people will stop and appreciate the opportunity to watch Tebow for another year. Guys like him don’t come around too often.
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