September 1, 2013

Steve Solloway: In greater game, Tebow's a winner

Exhibit A for the power of positive thinking took a hit Saturday morning. The New England Patriots cut Tim Tebow. Listen to the reaction and hear the empathy and the hoots of derision.

It's always been either-or. The quarterback who led Florida to national championships in 2006 and 2008 and was the Heisman Trophy winner in 2007 rarely trumpeted his own worth. Don't know that Tebow talked trash. Don't think he groped a girl in a bar. Can't imagine he pulled a gun on anyone.

He had the audacity of believing he could become an NFL quarterback and today half of you, judging by polls and comments, are piling on after he got cut. Why?

Let me list the reasons, in no particular order.

You believe Tebow is an imposter. He doesn't conform to anyone's ideal of an NFL quarterback. He isn't Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, Colin Kaepernick or Doug Flutie. He isn't consistently accurate with his passes. Can't find receivers when the game is played at NFL speed. Too desperate when a play starts to fall apart.

Never mind that he came off the bench in Denver after the Broncos lost four of their first five games and took them to the playoffs. Never mind that he threw the winning touchdown to beat the Steelers. Saturday, my friend in the Hallowell cigar shop told me it must have been the altitude in Denver. Or something.

More attitude than altitude. At 1-4, Tebow was the Bronco's lifeboat and everyone piled in. After a few wins teammates started believing. Even John Elway was converted.

Tebow isn't a winner. Check his NFL record. Almost as many losses as victories. I'll bow to University of Southern Maine baseball coach Ed Flaherty who once told a group of freshman student athletes that they were either energy-givers or energy-suckers. At Florida and at Denver, Tebow brought energy to the locker room and the field. No team can win consistently with players who take for themselves. How have those Cincinnati Bengals teams done over the years?

And how did the New York Knicks react when Jeremy Lin appeared in their backcourt? He didn't energize only his new team. He energized the whole league.

Tebow brought God to NFL game days. When he took a knee, it was to praise God rather than kill the clock. Someone mocked the act and called it Tebowing. Never mind that a Philadelphia Eagles running back named Herb Lusk did it after scoring a touchdown way back in 1977. NFL Films documented it. No one made a big deal about it then, even when it spread to other sports.

You watch David Ortiz point to the sky after a home run. You see others cross themselves when they step to the plate in baseball or to the foul line in basketball. You hear spirituality in locker rooms and at NASCAR tracks. But Tebow offers thanks and praise and people react as if a pair of Mormon missionaries were knocking at their front door. Go away, please.

You believe Tebow should never have been hoisted onto the pedestal. In fact, he was a victim of today's media. Too accessible. Too intelligent. Too handsome. Too much the worker and good teammate. Too successful at the major college level which is never a true indicator to success in the NFL. The national media didn't set Tebow up to fail but did cultivate Tebowmania. Expectations were raised beyond reason.

Tebowmania led to the backlash. In the Hallowell cigar shop a customer talked of a brother and sister-in-law who were not NFL fans but became Tebow fans. Think of the pink hats so visible five years back or so when the Red Sox were the hot, hot ticket and Fenway Park was the place to be seen. Pink Red Sox caps sold at souvenir stands were scorned by fans who lived and died for their team long before 2004 and the World Series win.

Vince Young led Texas to the 2006 NCAA national championship, was runner-up to Reggie Bush for the Heisman that year and a first-round pick of the Tennessee Titans. The Green Bay Packers cut him on Saturday, too. Young wasn't good enough to back up Aaron Rodgers.

Young has failed before and walked away quietly. Tebow wasn't given that courtesy.

Why?

Steve Solloway can be contacted at 791-6412 or at:

ssolloway@pressherald.com

 

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