Thursday, July 24, 2008

Tebow at SEC Media Day: Press Conference

Here is the full transcript. (Scroll down past Urban Meyer for the full version.)

Here was the quote from Tebow I liked the most:

"You know, there's a lot of leaders out there. But, unfortunately, there aren't a lot of good ones. So that's always been my dream and my goal, is to be someone like Danny Wuerful was to me, to be someone that a parent can say, Hey, this kid did it the right way. They can say to their kid, I want you to be like them. That's always been my dream and my goal more so than winning a trophy or winning a championship.

"So if it's cynical or whatnot, that's fine. If people don't believe it, that's fine. There's always going to be naysayers, people that are going to say it's fake. But that's fine because you can't control everybody. But I can control what I do, my attitude, how I approach the situation. So how I approach the situation is I want to do everything in my power that football gives me to influence as many people as I can for the good because that's gonna mean so much more when it's all said and done than just playing football and winning championships."

As great as Tebow is on the field, by all accounts he seems to be an infinitely better and more grounded person off the field, which is remarkable, given the spotlight he is under.

And, I should point out, he only directly mentioned "God" once in a couple thousand words worth of quotes.

This is one of the most fascinating things about Tebow: He is fervently religious. However, either by disposition or design, he does not overwhelm you with it. In fact, when he does mention it -- as he briefly did during the Heisman acceptance speech -- it feels strange.

Pat Dooley on Tebow at SEC Media Day

The column. The money quote:
"From one room to the next went Tebow — a generic TV room, then to the Raycom room, then to an SEC Sports room, then to the print media room. So many stops, so many questions. But after an offseason that saw him travel to the Philippines, Croatia and Thailand, not to mention New York, Fort Worth, Atlantic City and two prisons, he's used to it."

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Tim Tebow on Dan Patrick Show

Talking Playboy, SEC Media Day, etc.

"Greatest Player" Debate Continues

The New York Times Quad blog weighs in:
"[It] raises an interesting question: Is Tebow even the best quarterback in the nation – let alone the best player? Can one say that Tebow is the best quarterback in the SEC?"
Yes. And yes. Statistical evidence available shortly.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Meyer: Tebow "Greatest Player of Our Era"

Urban Meyer can be forgiven for saying Tim Tebow is:
"the greatest player of our era."
Sure to provoke argument.

Obviously, I agree, with apologies to Vince Young and Reggie Bush.

Let me put it this way: Tebow eventually will be considered the greatest player of our era. I would put both VY and Bush ahead of him, for now.

(Although if ethics count, Bush falls way behind the pack.)

Monday, July 21, 2008

Tebow Turns Down Playboy A-A Team

Totally consistent with his moral compass -- plus Danny Wuerffel did it, too.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

What Was Behind

Had a well-known college football writer email me overnight to ask about the blog: What was the inspiration, where it started, what coverage will be like, etc.

This was my response to him. Thought it might make a good summary for folks who want to know more about what I'm doing here and why.

His initial framing of the site was as a "tribute" page, which I wanted to correct right off the bat:

Although I am a self-admitted Tebow fan, I wouldn't describe it as a "tribute" page -- I am covering Tebow like a "beat," through the same analytical filter and news judgment that I have used writing columns for or or even just What I am layering in is the advantages of the blog platform, like immediacy and community and link-based distribution. I don't see much distinction between what I'm doing an a blogger covering a specific team, conference or sport; it just happens to be that I am picking an individual player. Of anyone in sports, he probably qualifies as worth the treatment. Here's why:

Even if I wasn't a Florida fan, I think that any college football fan understands that Tebow is THE story of the college football season, mainly because we have never experienced anything like his circumstances before: QB of the defending champs (doubling as the consensus pick to win a repeat title), with the potential to be one of the greatest teams ever... One-time Heisman winner who could earn his 2nd -- or at the very least have his 3rd straight Top 3 finish... Finally, there's the substantial mythology that has been created around and about him, probably more intense than any player in college football history. And he's got one more year to go, which feels a bit absurd, given what he has already accomplished.

All that has led to a discussion has already started: Under what conditions would Tebow finish his career as the greatest college football QB of all time? Or, perhaps, the greatest college football player of all time? That's a hell of a discussion to be having in real-time. That storyline, combined with Florida's run at a back-to-back title, makes Tebow the most intriguing athlete of the fall, in any sport. (And don't discount what will happen between January and May, when his draft status is THE story leading up to the NFL Draft.)

Unlike most individual athletes, Tebow offers plenty of daily material, plenty of substantial stakes on the line -- and plenty of interest from fans. There are a lot of great blogs out there dedicated to individual teams or conferences. My investment in this project is, in part, to see if there is an audience for a blog dedicated to an individual athlete -- albeit one who is a much larger story than most individual athletes. I think given Tebow's individual potential, Florida's team potential and the general mania around him, it's a deep subject with more than enough to sustain a blog on a daily basis.

The goal, in fact, is to update the blog multiple times a day. The source material for posts will come from my own original analysis, links to the best of what's being written about Tebow on the Web, guest-posts and Q&As with folks who may have an interesting perspective, even what is being tweeted about Tebow on Twitter.

I first started thinking about doing this a year ago. Tebow was coming off his Heisman year and had already emerged as the most compelling player in college football. Florida looked like a national title contender. There was uncertainty whether it would be his final year in college. But by the time I thought it through, the season had started and I felt like I missed the window. I did some test-blogging throughout the season, which is why you'll see 50 or so posts already published when I "launched" yesterday. When he announced he was coming back, I recognized this as an incredibly unique opportunity to cover the Tebow phenomenon that will dominate sports this fall.

Think of it like a reporter following a team or player for a season, only I am following a player -- and, obviously, doing it from an outsider's perspective, a hybrid of a fan's enthusiasm; a columnist's approach to analysis and narrative; and a blogger's use of the platform to connect to the larger sports-media ecology.

Will my predisposition to root for Tebow get in the way? Actually, I'd say it is the opposite: First, I am entirely transparent about my fandom, which puts me -- at least with the reader -- ahead of plenty of other folks out there writing about Tebow who drool over him but still try to claim "objectivity." Second, if you're going to do a blog about any specific topic -- whether it's a sport or a conference or a team or a player -- you better really really really like what you're covering.

The site's success in serving its audience -- whether that is Florida fans, college football fans or just folks curious about Tebow -- rests on a couple of things: Expert credibility; trenchant analysis; comprehensive coverage; and, not a small thing, some sense of fun.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

How Did I Become A Gators Fan?

That I am a big Tim Tebow fan is somewhat self-evident. (I would say that I recognized somewhere between his freshman and sophomore seasons that he is my favorite player of all time. Earning a fan's "Favorite Player of All Time" in any sport -- let alone all sports -- is a pretty big deal.)

But there is this larger question: I wouldn't be a Tebow fan if I wasn't a Gators fan. So how did I become a Gators fan?

It's not like I went to Florida for college. It's not like I grew up in Florida -- let alone Gainesville, like my wife did. It's not like my parents were Gator fans and passed it down to me.

So where did my Gator fandom come from? You can read an abbreviated version here, or below...


What kind of self-respecting lifelong sports nut discovers his fan-defining allegiance in the rooting interest... of his spouse?

Of the few things I am regularly and consistently questioned about (and, yes, mocked for), my fan allegiance to Florida has gotten the most visceral reaction from fellow fans. Inspired by that, I put this essay together for a prestigious mainstream publication, which – predictably – fell through. Rather than have the essay sit on my laptop, I decided to publish it here (where apparently they'll publish ANYTHING) and use it for future reference, when people ask me about my non-traditional fan allegiance.

This fall, every Saturday I will wake up with rabid anticipation, choose between a dozen different possible "lucky" outfits, then set up (or stand up) on the couch next to my wife to root on my Florida Gators football team.

Or should I say: HER Florida Gators football team.

She is the one born and raised in Gainesville, Florida, home of the University of Florida. She is the one with the lifetime of memories of going to Gator games with her family, meeting idolized players and coaches, celebrating Florida's 1996 National Championship.

I, however, am a Gator-by-marriage – a fan-in-law.

My passion for my wife's favorite team was sparked six years ago on our first date -- even before my passion was sparked for her. Actually, as soon as she started talking about her Gator fandom, I was smitten by meeting a woman who loved sports as much as I do... and particularly smitten with envy for her particular rooting interest.

I was a huge lifelong sports fan, to be sure, but I lacked that dominant gravitational, life-defining pull of a single team. Growing up in D.C., I had adolescent rooting interest as a displaced Bears and Cubs loyalist, the product of a paternal lineage to Chicago. However, when I moved to Chicago for college, my immersion into Windy City fandom actually turned me off to the teams. Meanwhile, like other incoming freshmen in Big Ten country, I immediately gravitated to my new school's football team: But Northwestern was a perennial punchline. How satisfying could my fandom be when my deepest hope was for a .500 record and postseason bowl eligiblility in the Local Yokel Bowl? After Northwestern's Rose Bowl year – the greatest season of my life as a fan – I left Chicago, and my aimless career path in sports was mirrored in my fandom.

That foundation made me vulnerable to be seduced by a winner. That was the initial attraction to this woman across the table from me on our first date. I have heard stories of people on dates with successful professionals and fantasizing themselves as spouses of a doctor or hedge-fund manager; I sat across from my date and imagined how happy I would be married to a fan of a great sports team.

In the months that followed after we met, that first football season of our courtship – 2001 – was my initial tryout as a Gators fan. I fell for them quickly: The rabid fan base, Gator Nation. The legendary stadium, The Swamp. The charismatic gun-slinging coach, Steve Spurrier. The legacy of All-American players and future NFL superstars, like Emmitt Smith (my wife's all-time favorite Gator). The never-ending selection of garish merchandise and memorabilia.

More than anything, I was instantly addicted to the expectations. It wasn't just that the team won as a basic matter of course, which they did, often prolifically. It was that they were expected to win. Even a single loss had the potential to be season-crushing. For a Northwestern fan whose idea of an extremely satisfying year included being able to count the wins on more than one hand, the acutely experienced tightrope of a season spent following a national-title contender -- where every week was a win-or-bust virtual playoff -- felt more real than anything I had ever before experienced as a fan.

But would Gator Nation even want me? More than anything As a bonus, embracing the Gators became the fastest, easiest and most palpable way I could win the approval of my future spouse's extended family. My immersion into the local media, Southeastern Conference team two-deep depth charts and next week's opponent gave way to an obsession with tracking recruiting battles, lurking on online message boards and attending the opening of spring practice. If it didn't win my in-laws over, it didn't hurt that at the same time I displayed devotion to their daughter, I showcased fealty for their sports team.

(Years later, I am still not quite sure what my wife thinks about our arrangement. She never asked me to join her as a Gators fan; I simply encroached. I can see it from her perspective: It is one thing to agree to share your life with someone, but it is an entirely different compromise to agree to share your sports fandom with someone. Despite the nature of fandom as collective, there is something intensely personal about how each person roots for their team. For better or worse, I confess to co-opting that from her.)

Given the randomness of romance – my wife and I met on a blind date – I wonder what the state of my fandom would be had my wife and I never met. Would I, like the rest of the country, mostly despise the arrogance of Gator Nation, particularly after the last 18 months of championships in football and basketball? Would another team have filled this void I felt? (I cringe: What if I had met a woman whose favorite team was... Florida State?) And what would have stuffed my closet shelves if not my two-dozen Gator-themed T-shirts?

This fall marks the start of the seventh year of my Florida fandom, pre-puberty stage by common sports-fan standards. But most other fans don't see it as positively. When I explain to them how I came to root for Florida, they usually first question my masculinity at having adopted my wife's team, quickly followed by universal agreement that I am the worst kind of fan: A bandwagoneer.

Fair enough. But in return, I argue that making an active choice about my fandom -- even pushing 30, in what some would describe as a "mid-fan-life-crisis" -- wasn't just acceptable, but arguably superior to the more traditional, passive roots of sports allegiance:

Biology: Let me guess – you root for your favorite team because it's the team your father rooted for, and he "passed it on" to you. While I agree that's a nice way for parent and child to bond, it smacks of inheritance rather than fandom earned through independent, thoughtful decision.

Geography: Another accident of circumstance. Your fandom is less about the team itself and more about having a sense of civic pride. This is how fans in cities without teams can so quickly latch on to a new team in town – stay classy, Jacksonville -- or how fans in cities like Cleveland or Baltimore, where legendary teams left town for relocation, can so quickly latch onto the replacement team. I don't question your town pride; I question why, if you live in St. Louis, you aren't still a Cardinals fan (even though they play in Arizona) and why you are a Rams fan (even though they came from Los Angeles).

College acceptance: Even with nearly two decades of perspective on it, fandom for one's college team feels artificial; you do it because you're supposed to. I appreciate that your first day on campus included learning the words to the school fight song and taking a trip to the bookstore to buy your first piece of Michigan paraphernalia. But you were one rejection letter or underperforming high school semester away from rooting for Sparty up the highway at Michigan State... or staying on Long Island and going to a state school without a football team like the one you so unquestioningly root for today.

Despite these observations, my personal experience has made me a lot less judgmental of the origins -- and sincerity -- of other people's fan allegiances. You can crow that you "care more" than other types of fans (both outside and inside your own team's base), but I'd argue that it's possible you're only projecting your own insecurities.

There might be an argument at the margins: How many "real" fans have rooted for their team to tank for draft position? Yet how many fans, however casual, would never even THINK about doing something like that? Who the bigger fan is in that scenario is up for debate. The most important point isn't who cares more (or even who has cared longer); it's that fans care, period.

I am sure most fans fall into one or more of those root causes of rooting interest. I don't question the sincerity of your devotion, and I don't question why the top criteria for your personal brand of fandom would be serendipity. I wasn't bestowed my favorite team like a birthright or boxed into it through my zip code or delivered it in a fat envelope during my senior year of high school. Undeniably, chance played a big role for me, too.

But I was 28, the sports version of a 40-year-old virgin, when I fell in love with my favorite team in the same college football season I fell in love with my future wife. I did it with a lifetime of fan experiences behind me, similar to my lifetime of dating experiences -- enough to know the real thing when I felt it.

And it is enough to drown out the jeers of "Bandwagoneer!" with my own sincere cheer: "Go Gators." (Um, right, sweetie?)

Tim Tebow: Gainesville As Titletown

Ea tebow
Uploaded by bsap11

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Tim Tebow. Heisman Pose. Live Infant.

Here. Here. Here. Here.

And, yes, I have tried that trick myself. Not as cool. At all.

The Final Inspiration For This Blog

This pretty much sums up the hysteria.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

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