Tebow vs Sanchez is a Media/Fan Creation

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It’s no secret that Tim Tebow the person is a franchise that wouldn’t exist if his personal story wasn’t as unique and interesting as it is; if he weren’t the salable force for conservative values with an overt Christianity and deeply held beliefs that, as far as we know, are sincere. Because he’s had crackling moments such as the touchdown he threw to win the Broncos’ Wild Card playoff game last season and orchestrated “winning” moments late in games again-and-again, his quarterbacking skills legitimize an attempt to make him a starting player and not a project that would take years to develop and undo what it was that made him a success. His current mechanics and abilities do not translate to the NFL. As he stands right now, he’s not viable in the NFL running what amounts to the wishbone and resisting all efforts to turn him into a slash player who functions in multiple roles—occasionally at quarterback—and is a weapon that has to be planned for.

In spite of the Jets’ best efforts to suggest that he’s going to be used for X amount of plays per game, opposing defenses will keep him in the back of their minds, but not worry about what he’s going to do in games because he’s so prone to mistakes and limited in what he can do. He can throw the deep ball; he can run; people like him; he has a flair for the dramatic.

That’s about it.

Mark Sanchez, on the other hand, is not likable. He’s shown immaturity, arrogance and isn’t an off-field choir boy. On some level, he deserves credit for not portraying himself as anything but what he is. He’s the prototypically handsome quarterback who would be perfect for a football movie. He’s also been demonized (as a perfect foil to the angelic Tebow) because of his frailties. To blame Sanchez for the Jets’ disappointing 8-8 finish is ignoring all the disarray surrounding him. The loudmouthed Rex Ryan; the infighting; the open second-guessing of offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer—all contributed to the club’s lack of cohesion. Objectively, if you look at Sanchez’s stats from his three year career, the numbers from 2011 are nearly identical to what they were in 2009-2010, but because year 3 was supposed to be the year he led the Jets back to the Super Bowl and was a Joe Namath not in his off-field skirt chasing but as a leader of men and it didn’t work out, that’s the storyline that’s easiest to submit.

His stats are below.

Year Age Cmp Att Cmp% Yds TD Int Int% Lng Y/A AY/A Y/C Y/G Rate Yds 4QC GWD
2009 23 196 364 53.8 2444 12 20 5.5 65 6.7 4.9 12.5 162.9 63.0 195 1 1
2010 24 278 507 54.8 3291 17 13 2.6 74 6.5 6.0 11.8 205.7 75.3 171 4 6
2011 25 308 543 56.7 3474 26 18 3.3 74 6.4 5.9 11.3 217.1 78.2 243 4 4
Career 782 1414 55.3 9209 55 51 3.6 74 6.5 5.7 11.8 195.9 73.2 609 9 11
Provided by Pro-Football-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 7/27/2012.

Here’s the truth: Tim Tebow can be a useful NFL quarterback, but he’s not going to be one immediately and if a team is going to use him as such, it either has to be an expansion team (Los Angeles?) that will use him to sell the franchise and allow him to learn on the job amid the rampant mistakes he’ll make or a team that’s going to be so awful that they can toss him out there and hope the God Tebow so fervently believes in tosses a lightning bolt down and transforms him into Steve Young.*

*I’m not sure if the Mormon God and Tebow’s God are on speaking terms, but that would need to be collectively bargained.

This “battle” exists in the desperate clutching at webhits and stories to tell during the dull days of NFL training camp. Talking about what Tebow does on the field in drills is irrelevant; so too is discussing Sanchez’s state of mind as he enters this competition months after signing a lucrative contract that was intended to set his mind at ease and convey the message that he’s the man around here. Perhaps this will help Sanchez. If he’s able to overcome the scrutiny he’s under because of the golden boy who was brought in to share his job and take away his spotlight, it will mature him and he’ll become the leader the Jets need. Or it might exponentially multiply the disarray surrounding this team and speed Sanchez’s departure.

If Sanchez doesn’t rise to the challenge, they’ll have to move on. This will expedite the process either way. But to think that it’s a competition is ignoring the fact that Tebow cannot start every game for a team that has designs on a deep playoff run as the Jets clearly do. It’s not a story on the field. It’s a Don King-style boxing promotion that, if judged realistically, wouldn’t be worth the pay-per-view cost and anger thereafter when those who purchased the snake oil realize that they’ve been had.

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Let’s Talk Tebow

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Judging by the reaction, the Jets just signed a Christian missionary who hadn’t played football since high school.

This isn’t the 49ers signing Renaldo Nehemiah and sticking him in a pair of shoulder pads because he could run really, really fast; this is the Jets signing a player who has talent that may not translate directly to playing quarterback in the NFL.

But that doesn’t mean he doesn’t have use on and off the field.

Of course the Jets may be trying to sell tickets and merchandise, but Tebow isn’t a novelty like Eddie Gaedel or a silly freakshow like Michael Jordan deciding to play baseball. He can play. It’s just that his skills translate differently from the classic pocket passer that John Elway was and would clearly prefer as evidenced by his decision to sign Peyton Manning and trade away Tebow.

Is it the joke that the multitude of football experts in the media, on Twitter and Facebook and everywhere else are implying?

No.

Will it work?

Who knows?

Much like the attempts to separate Tebow from his religion and following, you can’t pigeonhole him as anything because he’s many things. To make the statement, “if he were just another everyday football player” is a waste of time and energy. He is what he is with everything—good and bad—that accompanies it. His piety is apparently sincere and fans have taken to him because of that. He’s also an interesting experiment on the field.

The concept that he’s going to make current Jets’ quarterback Mark Sanchez’s job harder by placing a target on his back from minute one is true, but so what? Sanchez has been inconsistent and if his rumored questionable work habits are accurate, there’s nothing wrong with a little pressure regardless of where it comes from and why. Jets fans are going to be screaming for Tebow not because they think he can play; not because they think the Jets will be better with him than Sanchez; but just to be obnoxious and get a reaction.

It’s not an indictment of Jets’ fans because fans everywhere would do the same thing. Had the Broncos kept Tebow, it would’ve happened with Manning if his recovery didn’t look to be complete and he was playing like it. And that’s Peyton Manning.

That the Jets functioned with backups that were non-threats (and aged Mark Brunell and Kellen Clemens) served to give Sanchez security in his job that he has yet to earn. Joe Montana had Steve Young behind him. The fans called for Young and Bill Walsh benched Montana in favor of Young, inviting Montana’s understated wrath.

It’s the way things are. There’s no loyalty. It’s a business.

Is it a bad move?

Is it a good move?

Depending on whether or not it works, we’ll see.

To think this is a “ridiculous” decision is based on outside interpretation. The Jets supposed failure to read through Tebow’s contract was used as a hammer to beat the organization up, but it appears to have been a misunderstanding and media play on the part of the Broncos.

If the way things were “always done” was the basis of everything that happens in the future, NFL players would be wearing leather helmets and working in sporting goods stores in the off-seasons; there would be no free agency; there wouldn’t have been any black quarterbacks, head coaches or front office people; the forward pass would never have been implemented; and no one would watch the NFL because it’d be too boring and tied to the early part of the 20th Century.

To me there’s nothing wrong with bringing a high-character talent into a lockerroom that had grown toxic. The reasons are irrelevant. Tebow isn’t coming in bible-thumping as his mandate. He’s a football player and should be treated as such.

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The Truth About Tebow

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The worship and hatred of Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow wouldn’t be any more intense if he was judged to be the second coming of Jesus Christ or openly professed his worshipping of the devil.

Both ends of the spectrum are misplaced.

The love is due to his seeming sincerity of religious beliefs.

The venom comes from the continuous inundation of Tebow, Tebow, Tebow everywhere we turn.

It’s not about him; it’s a commercialized creation by the media based on what the public wants.

Is his performance being affected by a higher power?

Put it this way: if Tebow thinks that there is a plan in place for him and he’ll be protected in the nuzzle of his all-encompassing devotion to Jesus, then that piety is providing him with a serenity and confidence to do the best he can and accept the result as part of the grand scheme—he plays the game without fear of failure; in that sense, he is being assisted by a higher power whether it’s actually there or not.

The fascination with Tebow isn’t a nodding approval that he’s a sound role model for young America; it’s due to the public’s demand for it.

Tebow attracts attention; attention drives ratings, webhits and magazine circulation; ratings, webhits and circulation raise ad prices; and ad prices generate money.

It’s not about Tebow; it’s not about Jesus; and it’s not about beliefs.

It’s about money.

Careful market research dictates what content ESPN and the other networks present to the public.

Because he’s so willing to share his testimony and give all glory to God, there’s a built-in audience for a handsome and salable Christian star. Now that he’s getting a chance to play and his image is bolstered further by on-field success in a most dramatic fashion week-after-week, it’s grown to proportions that both sides of the debate are engaged in a war-like battle over his worthiness of the constant press.

We still don’t know if he can play or is lucky. Is it a confluence of events that’s taken on a life of its own? Or will he fall back down to earth once the NFL catches up to him?

The ongoing vitriolic shoving match between defenders and supporters who have agendas of their own will go on and on until that determination is made.

Tebow credits his success to God. This offends people who wonder if there is a God and if the deity would or should care about the outcome of a football game while there’s so much suffering in the world.

Either way, you’re being manipulated if you partake in the Tebow-centric media blitz.

He’s either going to fade out or grow even more famous.

Even then, it won’t be about him; it will be about what he represents to his various constituencies—those who love him; those who hate him; and those who are using him.

It’s all the same in the end and once he’s gone, there will be something else.

He’s a product in a different package. Like any trend, he’ll last as long as he lasts and then the public will move on.

Because it’s not about him.

Not about him at all.

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Hate The Game, Don’t Hate Tim Tebow Or ESPN

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Having heard what ESPN football analyst Merril Hoge said about Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow, I don’t see what the big deal is. He stated his opinion about whether or not Tebow’s style will work in the NFL. (He doesn’t think it will.)

You can listen to a small portion of what Hoge said on the Mut and Merloni radio show on WEEI here.

Naturally others chimed in as the story took on a life of its own and none other than LeBron James took to Twitter to defend Tebow.

Much of the vitriol directed at Tebow is similar to the hate that engulfs Brett Favre and Alex Rodriguez—they get a lot of attention from ESPN.

What you need to realize is that the likes of A-Rod, Tebow and Favre are only playing an off-field game that’s not a competition, but is a business.

Tebow, A-Rod and Favre generate attention, webhits, ratings and the resulting advertising dollars. These things are studied, paid attention and adhered to. So when ESPN is called “NESPN” and is accused of catering to the Red Sox, it’s not done out of allegiance; it’s done because that’s what people search for. Once that stops, so too will the non-story-stories that pop up all over the place.

People were interested in the Colby Rasmus and his dad Tony Rasmus and Colby’s departure from the Cardinals; how their father/son/coach relationship affected the Cardinals organization and manager Tony LaRussa.

It’s a terrific tale of a Hall of Fame manager clashing with the dad of a hot prospect.

Because that’s what was in demand, that’s what was provided. It’s purely democratic and is how lines get blurred with what’s legitimate reporting or wagging the dog to deliver a fast food style meal for the web surfers.

Who knows whether Tebow can play in the NFL or not? There have been players who were supposed to be stars in every sport but haven’t for one reason or another; the same thing works in the opposite direction as there are athletes from whom nothing is expected and they suddenly burst onto the scene due to late development, opportunity or connecting with the right coach/manager/team at the right time.

Don’t blame Tebow or ESPN. Blame yourself for partaking in it.

If you’re going to ESPN for hard-hitting sports journalism, then you deserve your fate.

Ignore it and it’ll go away.

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