Thursday, December 31, 2009

Top Tebow Moment No. 1: The Promise

The Promise is the single most defining moment of Tim Tebow's career.

Ironically -- or perhaps not ironically at all -- it came off the field, after a loss, the worst loss of Tim Tebow's career and a loss where Tebow took personal responsibility, after falling short on its make-or-break play.

The Promise was entirely unexpected -- Tebow was walking away from the podium after a seemingly routing post-game press conference, then came back. (If Tebow had planned to do it all along, I will give him even more credit.)

He re-approached the podium and began the 107-word statement that is arguably the most legendary speech in college sports history:

To the fans and everybody in Gator Nation, I'm sorry.

(Note his apology is directly to "fans" and "Gator Nation." And that he leads with an apology.)

I’m extremely sorry.

(Re-emphasis of the apology.)

We were hoping for an undefeated season. That was my goal, something Florida has never done here.

(Shift to a team-centric "we," then right back to the personal "my." And the goal being something unprecedented. File that away, and you can begin to understand the frustration that brought him to tears after the 2009 SEC championship game.)

I promise you one thing: A lot of good will come out of this.

(There it is, the operative word: "Promise." And a seeming contradiction: "Good"... from a devastating loss? It raises fan hopes. It is condolence.)

You will never see any player in the entire country play as hard as I will play the rest of the season. You will never see someone push the rest of the team as hard as I will push everybody the rest of the season.

(A very internally focused pledge: He puts it on himself. But is it just about him? No: He is going to push the rest of the team, too. But what about everyone else...?)

You will never see a team play harder than we will the rest of the season.

(There you go: Not just Tebow giving a promise -- he has now bonded the entire team to this covenant. And I am being intentionally specific with my language in putting it in terms of something explicitly religious, like "covenant" -- there is nothing stronger or more important in Old Testament religion than that. It is Tebow's covenant with the fans. It is the team's covenant with the fans.)

God bless.

(This ending doesn't just put a superficial stamp of spirituality on The Promise -- it seals that covenant, invoking the ultimate authority in Tebow's life -- and the lives of the vast majority of fans.)

We know what happened next: Inspired (or perhaps merely framed) by The Promise, the Gators went on to destroy everything in their path en route to the national championship. The Promise would not have been "The Promise" without its fulfillment.

Here's what I said a month ago, when laying out, in advance of his Swamp finale, that The Promise was Tebow's greatest moment ever at The Swamp:

It can be argued that without the blown 4th-down conversion, there would be no "Promise." And without the "Promise" (along with the win-or-die mentality that went along with the loss), there would have been no run to the 2008 national championship.
Perhaps you can argue that The Promise was merely a vow that Tebow and his teammates would try their best -- out-work every other team -- rather than guarantee a win. The presumption is that by working harder than anyone else, the team would fulfill its championship potential.

(Back in August, I had a friendly argument with the Sentinel's Andrea Adelson that The Promise would trump even an unbeaten 2009 season in defining Tebow's legacy. We'll never know now, but falling short of an unbeaten 2009 certainly re-affirms the unmatched importance of The Promise.)

As a measure of competitive drive and leadership, The Promise is unparalleled in sports -- even Namath's equally famous "guarantee" was more braggadocio than template. Regardless, it is critical to the mythology and reality of Tebow that The Promise culminated in a championship.

There is no revisionist history. The Promise begat the run to the championship. The reason why it was immortalized outside the stadium -- before Tebow had even left campus -- was because it was that transcendent, that much of a code to live by.

And then there is this: The Promise is as much of a mission statement defining Tim Tebow's entire career as it was merely his greatest moment.

The Complete Top 10
10. Commits to UF
9. I'm Coming Back!
8. Circumcisions
7. Crying
6. 20/20
5. The Virgin
4. Taunting Oklahoma
3. John 3:16
2. The Jump-Pass
1. The Promise

Top Tebow Moments: Also Receiving Votes

Just minutes from releasing the post with the No. 1 moment of Tim Tebow's career. (If you go back through the rest of the list, it isn't hard to figure out.)

Picking top Tebow moments is a fun game in the final days of his Florida career. The Times-Union has a good list, including a couple of moments/events that either were "also receiving votes" on my list or baked into the existing ranking. And one controversial one.

If I was expanding my list from Top 10 to Top 15, there would be a good chance these would make the list:

*I do love the "30 minutes!" speech from the 2008 national title game; another classic Tebow moment of inspiration.

(As a corollary, how about his "speech" to the College GameDay basketball crew? That was a nice moment for Tim -- slightly awkward for Hubert Davis.)

*I love "4th-and-1" against Tennessee his freshman year, a season-saving play and perhaps the first real "Tebow time" moment of his Florida career.

*And I agree: Senior Day was an incredibly special moment, almost the bookend to "I'm Coming Back."

*Passing Herschel
was a good one, because it gave Tebow a definitive claim on the title of the SEC's greatest player ever.

*Winning the Heisman is a biggie -- I would actually include that as part of my existing "20/20" entry.

The AP has a list, too, and it has one thing on it that I didn't have in my Top 10, but thought seriously about including -- even more than any of the others listed above: The Concussion. It certainly qualified as a defining moment of Tebow's career (and, sadly, his 2009 season). And, obviously, it was the the scariest moment of his career. But I'm not sure it would make a list of TOP Tebow moments. But I didn't want it to go unrecognized.

OK: Let's get to No. 1....

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Top Tebow Moment No. 2: The Jump-Pass

Tim Tebow's college football career has mere days remaining. All this week, a look back at the Top 10 defining moments of his career.

No moment on the field was as typical of Tim Tebow's college career than the original Jump-Pass. (A moment so legendary that it was and is instantly recognized by its nickname.)

The Jump-Pass represented everything that we knew about Tim Tebow -- and everything that the rest of his career would come to be defined by: It wasn't pretty, it was simply effective. And game-winning. And as inspiring to his fans as it was soul-crushing to his opponents.

In October 2006, by the weekend of the LSU game, Tebow was already a cult hero -- arguably the most popular player on the team, though just a freshman. He was a first-down-gaining, touchdown-making dervish of power and enthusiasm. (Orson Swindle of EDSBS had labeled him "Baby Rhino.")

He had previously had a win-influencing (if not precisely game-winning) 4th-down conversion against Tennessee -- but nothing mythological...yet.

Let me go back to a post I wrote just before this season's LSU game to commemorate the Jump-Pass:
Tebow had only 11 plays, but -- oh -- what plays: He was 2/2 passing... with 2 TDs. And he had 9 carries for 35 yards (a respectable 3.9 ypc given that LSU's defense was very good and they knew Tebow would be running) and a rushing TD that tied the score 7-7 at the end of the 1st quarter.

The jump pass came with just seconds to play in the 2nd quarter. The score was still 7-7. Behind Chris Leak, Florida had driven 7 plays, from their own 28 to LSU's 14 (after a UF false-start penalty). Two LSU penalties later, the Gators were on LSU's 4...

Tebow Time.

Tebow plunged through the pile 3 yards, setting up 2nd and goal from LSU's 1, with 28 seconds to play. Then, with the half about to end, Tebow lined up again, with the assumption by everyone -- most of all, by LSU, that Urban would bet on a Tebow plunge.

Instead, Tebow hesitated, faked and went up the air. He double-clutched -- like a basketball shot, I remember Verne Lundquist saying immediately -- and the ball found Tate Casey, who fell backwards like a toddler, gripping the ball like it was the first catch of his life.

The Gators would use the win as a springboard. Despite losing at Auburn one week later -- how deflating! -- Florida would sprint through the SEC title game and into their first national title of the Tebow Era.

Kirk Herbstreit had one of the best Tebow-related quotes ever, which he relayed in the preseason when he was doing his GameDay media tour. He discussed his first trip in person to see Tebow, at The Swamp for the LSU game. And he recounted that Tebow got more crowd support than anyone -- and it was loud:

"I said to (Chris) Fowler it’s like he's Roy Hobbs from the movie 'The Natural.'"


If my infatuation with Tim Tebow didn't come on his very first play as a Gator -- and I would argue its genesis was his first carry in the first game (a TD against Southern Miss in the season-opener) -- the Jump Pass was the moment when I and everyone else were overwhelmed by Tebow Mania. It was his 5th game ever.

To Herbie's point, Malamud's fictional "The Natural" is probably the closest thing to the real-life Tebow myth. (Roy Hobbs and Tim Tebow aren't precise analogies, but they remain appropriate: Both are idealized "naturals" in their given sports.

The only difference: Tebow is real.
Here is my favorite video of the moment -- it's not totally crystal clear, but it captures the spirit in the crowd when it happened.

And here's a better version, if you want to watch it a little more up-close and from multiple angles:

The Complete Top 10
10. Commits to UF
9. I'm Coming Back!
8. Circumcisions
7. Crying
6. 20/20
5. The Virgin
4. Taunting Oklahoma
3. John 3:16
2. The Jump-Pass
1. The Promise

Top Tebow Moment No. 3: John 3:16

Tim Tebow's college football career has mere days remaining. All this week, a look back at the Top 10 defining moments of his career.

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

Beginning with the second game of Tebow's junior year, he began displaying Bible verses on his eye-black. First was Phil 4:13, which he wore throughout the season.

But with the spotlight of the national championship game, Tebow came out wearing "John 3:16" -- the single-most defining passage for evangelical Christians. And the most interesting thing happened:

The internet blew up over it. More specifically, Google trembled: Quickly after the game was underway, "John 3:16" became the top "trending" search on the search engine. It finished the day as the top trending search.

(The number "94 million" has been thrown around a little bit too casually about the number of searches performed for the phrase. My understanding is that this number is miscalculated by an order of magnitude -- that said, the overall interest by casual viewers was huge.)

More importantly, Tim Tebow's ability to drive seemingly couch-bound fans to fire up their computers and see what the passage said was established, on college football's biggest stage. And it was a secular revelation to Tim and his family -- a uniquely 21st-century symbol of his power to influence.

Most interestingly, it was this Google detail that Tebow and his family brought up most prominently when he discussed coming back for his senior season. Winning a championship would be wonderful; strengthening his relationships with his coaches and teammates is wonderful; being able to impact people's lives through community service is wonderful.

But underlying all that was the realization that -- as the most prominent and popular athlete in the history of college sports -- Tebow would have a much MUCH more commanding platform by which to influence fans with The Word.

By the start of the 2009 season, Tebow's eye-black would become a weekly fascination (it even inspired a blog, called Tebow's Eye-Black). He would change the messages each week, and each week, the verses would be among the most-searched phrases on Google.

(If you check the topic box on the lower right of this page and click on "eye-black," you will see the weekly coverage of his use of eye-black. I regularly tried to find layered -- even secular -- meanings in the passages. This was most notable during the SEC title game.)

In the SEC Championship Game -- the most-watched college football game of the season -- Tebow's "John 16:33" was the No. 1 hottest search trend... right up until it was bumped to No. 2 by "Tim Tebow crying."

Tebow's experience in the 2008 national title game with "John 3:16" and Google was a defining one for him -- and his legacy.

The Complete Top 10
10. Commits to UF
9. I'm Coming Back!
8. Circumcisions
7. Crying
6. 20/20
5. The Virgin
4. Taunting Oklahoma
3. John 3:16
2. The Jump-Pass
1. The Promise

Tebow Draft Watch: "Has Every Intangible"

When Florida QB coach Scott Loeffler addressed the media at the Sugar Bowl, he also addressed a slew of questions about Tim Tebow's fit in the NFL -- as I have said, Tebow will be the No. 1 storyline of the 2010 NFL Draft. Here were Loeffler's responses. Really interesting:

On Tebow's NFL potential:

“Absolutely. 100 percent. Just like any college quarterback coming from college football to the National Football League there’s transition. There was transition with Peyton Manning and there was transition with Tom Brady. The one I have down in Miami, there was transition. It’s just a different game.

"[Tebow] has every intangible. He has all the talent. Probably the biggest adjustment in that league is the speed. It (the NFL) is all the best players from all the best leagues. It’s an adjustment that every single quarterback that I’ve been associated with who has played in the league has had to make."

On time needed to make a transition:

"Oh I don’t know. That’s like asking whether an incoming recruit will be ready to play in his first year or his third year. Everybody is different. Some guys are going to pick it up quicker than the others. The way Tim Tebow is and the mentality he has and the work ethic he has it’s not going to take him long. It’s not going to take him long at all."

On intangibles:

"Being a quarterback is being a quarterback whether it’s Pee Wee Football or the National Football League. The guys who have “IT” are the guys who play a long time in that league and Tim Tebow has “IT”. The intangibles that he’s learned here and he learned from his parents is going to carry over to that league, there’s no question."

On a team adjusting to Tebow (or vice versa):

"I think every NFL system always adjusts to what their quarterback does best. I don’t know if they’ll let him [truck defensive players], but he’s going to."

Top Tebow Moment No. 4: Taunting the Sooners

Tim Tebow's college football career has mere days remaining. All this week, a look back at the Top 10 defining moments of his career.

"I let the Gator speak for me."

This is my all-time favorite Tim Tebow moment: The unsportsmanlike-conduct penalty he was flagged for against Oklahoma in the 2008 national championship game.

Let's set the scene. Florida was up 24-14 with 2 minutes to go in the 4th quarter. On 2nd-and-9 from the Oklahoma 35, Tebow rushed for 13 yards, pulled down a little too hard by Oklahoma's Nic Harris.

Tebow popped up and started jawing. Then he gave Harris the Gator Chomp. There is the briefest of pauses by the referee, perhaps because he is shocked that the taunt is coming from Tebow. But then the flag comes out.

Because the game's result -- and a national championship -- were in hand for Florida, the outburst from Tebow was triumphalist, rather than tacky. In the face of some unflagged unsportsmanlike conduct by the Sooners, Tebow showed them what's what.

It was so uncharacteristic of Tebow to taunt, let alone get flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct -- and yet it was a glimpse at the ultimate competitiveness. 99 percent of the time, the Bible's word is Tebow's guide; in this case, as he said: "I let the Gator speak for me."

Not to sound blasphemous, but it was almost like -- for that five seconds -- Tebow was possessed by something less-than-wholesome, something that insisted "No, take THAT." Everyone has that side. And a rare peek at the pure competitive core that makes Tebow who he is on the field.

Here is why I like the play so much: It was Tebow's most human -- and likable -- public display of his life.

Watch the video below. It's only 10 seconds, but it says everything.

The Complete Top 10
10. Commits to UF
9. I'm Coming Back!
8. Circumcisions
7. Crying
6. 20/20
5. The Virgin
4. Taunting Oklahoma
3. John 3:16
2. The Jump-Pass
1. The Promise

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Top Tebow Moment No. 5: The Virgin

Tim Tebow's college football career has mere days remaining. All this week, a look back at the Top 10 defining moments of his career.

Clay Travis: "Are you saving yourself for marriage?"

Tim Tebow: "Yes I am."

No single moment captured the mania that would be attached to Tim Tebow in 2009 like the one at the insane SEC Media Days when Clay Travis asked Tim Tebow, tactfully in my opinion, about whether he was a virgin.

Mainstream media acted like Travis did something horrible. But Tebow's own reaction -- as comfortable in his own skin as ever, as directed by clarity of mind as ever -- affirmed that the question was entirely reasonable.

Tebow has always made his religious values a centerpiece to his persona -- remember, Tebow's own priorities are, in this order: Faith, Family, Academics, Football. He wears those values on his eye-black. He wears them on his sleeve.

Remember what Tebow said immediately following his response, when the rest of the media was absolutely befuddled at how to proceed:

"I think y'all are stunned right now. Y'all can't even ask a question. Look at this. The first time ever. Wow. I was ready for the question; I don't think y'all were, though."

So it was a fair question to ask -- interestingly, the more shocking answer would be if he had NOT been saving himself for marriage. Because of Tebow's core consistency, it was a simple question with a simple answer.

Here's how I put it at the end of my post immediately after the interaction, which might have been my single favorite post I have ever written for

"Talking about his virginity doesn't faze Tebow. And it shouldn't faze the rest of us. We should all have the kind of equanimity that comes with the clarity of living Tebow enjoys."

The Complete Top 10
10. Commits to UF
9. I'm Coming Back!
8. Circumcisions
7. Crying
6. 20/20
5. The Virgin
4. Taunting Oklahoma
3. John 3:16
2. The Jump-Pass
1. The Promise

Tim Tebow Extravaganza via

The crackerjack staff at the New Orleans Times-Picayune asked an all-star cast of experts to weigh in on Tim Tebow as he prepares for the Sugar Bowl, his college football finale. It's as extensive and comprehensive an encomium as I have ever seen.

Among the group: Archie Manning, Tony Barnhart, Mike DiRocco, Chris Fowler, Furman Bisher, Billy Cannon, Chris Dufresne, Bruce Feldman, Joe Schad, Lane Kiffin, Mark Richt, Mike Slive... and this guy who edits a site called

Let me showcase it, in the style of movie posters that feature glowing reviews:

"S-T-U-D. Stud!" (Jon Gruden)
"World-class leader!" (Archie Manning)
"He is the 'real deal!'" (Dan Johnson)
"Transcended the game of football!" (Tony Barnhart)
"Gladly gave so much of himself off the field!" (Mike DiRocco)
"No player has been more universally respected!" (Ron Higgins)
"What sets him apart is the way he's won!" (Chris Fowler)
"Unique way of tackling his tacklers!" (Billy Cannon)
"Cross between Steve Young and a young bull from Pamplona!" (Chris Dufresne)
"Almost always found a way!" (Bruce Feldman)
"He'll go on to win Super Bowls!" (Lane Kiffin)
"Offered genuine smiles!" (Joe Schad)
"Extraordinary young man by any definition!" (Mike Slive)
"He has been a joy to watch!" (John Adams)
"Passion that's infectious!" (Chris Low)
"Gave his all for every inch of yardage!" (Jim Kleinpeter)
"Runs like a fullback, throws like Namath!" (Mickey Andrews)
"Will to win!" (Blair Kerkhoff)
"Kind of player I don't think we've seen before!" (Mark Richt)
"Ever be anyone quite like him again!" (Vince Dooley)
"Makes Google tremble! Foils TMZ!" (Dan Shanoff)

Check out the whole thing here.

Tim Tebow Can Believe It's Not Butter

"Tim Tebow can believe it's not butter" is Tim Tebow's favorite Tebowism.

That's from Ted Lewis at the New Orleans Times-Picayune's terrific list of his favorite Tebowisms. Kudos to Lewis for asking Tebow himself for his own personal favorite. Tebow rarely gets "meta" with his own phenomenon; it's nice to see he allows himself some room to find it amusing.

(I'm a traditionalist: "Superman wears Tim Tebow pajamas" remains my favorite.)

Top Tebow Moment No. 6: 20/20

Tim Tebow's college football career has mere days remaining. All this week, a look back at the Top 10 defining moments of his career.

If there was a shorthand to Tim Tebow's individual dominance -- particularly in his jaw-dropping, Heisman-winning sophomore season in 2007 -- it was "20/20."

En route to becoming the first sophomore ever to win the Heisman Trophy, Tebow became the first player in major college football history to throw for 20 TDs AND run for 20 TDs.

He actually obliterated that: In the regular season, he threw for 29 TDs and ran for 22. (Check out the amazing video below, which captures all 51 TDs in one ridiculous mash-up.) He broke the 20/20 barrier against Florida Atlantic in the 11th game of the season.

Tebow finished with 32 TDs passing and 23 rushing, at the time a D-1 record for QBs. In a nice bit of symbolism, Tebow also set a record for rushing and passing for a TD in every game that season -- which would continue into 2008.

Statistically, Tebow's 2007 season was arguably the most dominant any player -- let alone any quarterback -- has had in the modern history of college football. And it was a testament to his potential that he did it in his first season as a starting QB.

Tebow's career would have plenty of highlights -- particularly leading Florida to the 2008 national title. But if you want a snapshot of Tebow's individual brilliance as a college football player, 2007 and "20/20" was it.

The Complete Top 10
10. Commits to UF
9. I'm Coming Back!
8. Circumcisions
7. Crying
6. 20/20
5. The Virgin
4. Taunting Oklahoma
3. John 3:16
2. The Jump-Pass
1. The Promise

Tim Tebow Talks Through His Career

In a wide-ranging interview with Fox Sports Florida, Tim Tebow talks through the biggest moments in his career, including the Jump-Pass, the concussion, FSU 2008 ("like being 8 years old in the backyard"), his eye-black, his best memories with Urban Meyer ("hugging after games"), his decision to come back in 2009 ("no regrets") and more.

(And here's a link to Tebow's Sugar Bowl press conference from yesterday.)

Tim Tebow's Life After College

"Tebow is poised to be this generation's Wuerffel -- perhaps with a better pro career along the way. He spoke enthusiastically Monday about the future -- his lifelong goal of becoming an NFL quarterback, but also plans beyond the gridiron."

--'s Pat Forde, on Tim Tebow's life after college football, which will undoubtedly include more substantial (and supremely financed) commitment to charitable and community causes, as it was with his mentor, Danny Wuerffel.

As I mentioned in the previous post: Tebow will have access to resources -- both through his own marketing deals and through his prolific ability to fundraise -- that will be staggering. He will have the ability to do a tremendous amount of good... and is committed to it. Per Tebow:

"Finishing up the last game means starting a new chapter and closing another."

Tim Tebow In a Super Bowl Ad?

Credit the fine folks at Tebow's Eye-Black for picking up on a very interesting story:

Could Tim Tebow be the focus of a controversial Super Bowl ad?

Now, I have talked before about how everything changes for Tebow the second the Sugar Bowl ends -- with his college eligibility over, he will be free to pursue paid marketing deals.

(Oh, and will Tebow get deals. I think he could surpass Peyton Manning as the NFL's No. 1 marketing force by the start of his rookie year. I will have a lot more on this topic later this week and throughout next week, but it is one of the most intriguing storylines of Tebow's post-Florida career.)

But there is a story out of Colorado that Focus on the Family is going to try to air an ad during the Super Bowl featuring Pam Tebow discussing her decision to have Tim.

According to the story, the ad would not feature Tim himself, but instead his mom. But the association is obvious.

(Tim may have strong beliefs about abortion, but his marketing team will steer him from personally being involved in an ad like that. As I have said before, one of Tebow's greatest gifts is that he appeals to people with strong religious values, but he also avoids pushing his values on those who don't want to hear them -- not anywhere near as much as critics insist he does -- and simultaneously presents a strong secular humanist message.

Now, I predict that CBS will ultimately not let the advocacy ad run -- the network maintains that right, and they have made that decision in the past.

But whether it runs or not, the IDEA of the ad alone will get a lot of attention.

Tim Tebow will be one month into his career as a corporate pitchman -- undoubtedly for huge brands like Nike, Gatorade, EA, trading cards, credit cards and more.

It will be fascinating to see how this plays out as Tebow the Person, Tebow the Player and -- very very soon -- Tebow the Marketing Force all converge in 2010.

(By the way, it would not surprise me at all if a less controversial marketing partner -- Nike, Gatorade, EA, credit cards -- used Tebow in a Super Bowl ad.)

Huge hat-tip to Tebow's Eye-Black on this one.

Top Tebow Moment No. 7: "Tim Tebow Crying"

Tim Tebow's college football career has mere days remaining. All this week, a look back at the Top 10 defining moments of his career.

"I'm used to hearing everything from fans, and so you know what, if they enjoy seeing me cry, I have bigger things to worry about."

Let's not pull punches: Many fans enjoyed seeing Tim Tebow cry at the end of the SEC Championship Game. It began with a shot from the CBS camera of Tebow on one knee on the Gators sidelines, crying. It made it to the jumbotron of the GeorgiaDome, prompting jeers of schadenfreude from triumphant Alabama fans.

Immediately after the game, CBS reporter Tracy Wolfson caught up with Tebow as he was walking off the field, and more tears came.

Then... the moment went viral.

Say what you want about the power of Tebow's eye-black to move even mighty Google, but one minute "John 16:33" -- Tebow's eye-black for the game -- was the No. 1 most-searched term on Google. The next minute, it was bumped to No. 2 by "Tim Tebow crying."

The video was replayed over and over on TV. It spread around the internet, became hours of fodder for message boards -- Florida's, Alabama's and every other team's. It almost instantly made its way to T-shirts, memorialized in the most 21st century way.

There is a strong argument to be made that Tim Tebow's tears in that game were more memorable and defining than Alabama's victory. People may or may not remember Alabama; they will remember Tebow crying.

For me, there were a couple of things that made his tears one of the most defining moments of his career:

(1) Most immediately, they represented the frustration of a "best season ever" instantly imploded.

(2) They were a literal manifestation of Tebow's ultimate competitiveness. He could not have been the great player that he was if he didn't care so much about winning that losing brought him to tears.

(3) The juxtaposition of his crying and his eye-black -- with a message that game that was almost prescient in the way it nodded to life beyond winning and losing -- was startling, as was the way the crying displaced the eye-black on Google.

(4) Any other player cries, it's a one-second shot that no one thinks about -- we've seen it countless times during sports TV broadcasts. When Tebow does it, it is the story of the weekend.

(5) It was a sad, frustrating ending, but there was a larger lesson to be gleaned about dealing with disappointment -- if Tebow can go through it and persist, so can anyone.

I think that in 5 or 10 years, we will look back and realize that this was a Top 5 most defining moment of Tim Tebow's college career. For now, that the last image we have of him on the field (before his bowl-game career-finale) made it to his Top 10 moments of all time is impressive enough.

The Complete Top 10
10. Commits to UF
9. I'm Coming Back!
8. Circumcisions
7. Crying
6. 20/20
5. The Virgin
4. Taunting Oklahoma
3. John 3:16
2. The Jump-Pass
1. The Promise

Fox Using Tim Tebow In Battle With Time Warner

I mentioned that there is a chance -- an increasingly good chance, horrifyingly enough -- that my local Fox affiliate will be blacked out on New Year's Day by my cable company, Time Warner.

Now, if I can't watch the NFL on Fox? Meh. If I can't watch "American Idol?" I'll find it on YouTube or Hulu.

But if I can't watch the Sugar Bowl -- Tim Tebow's final college football game? WHAT?!?!

Anyway, it's amusing to see Fox using -- perhaps exploiting -- Tim Tebow's image in their propaganda to convince consumers to join them against Time Warner. Look for Tebow on the lower-left of the poster below:

Monday, December 28, 2009

Top Tebow Moment No. 8: Circumcisions

Tim Tebow's college football career has mere days remaining. All this week, a look back at the Top 10 defining moments of his career.

"The first time, it was nerve-racking. Hands were shaking a little bit. I mean, I'm cutting somebody. You can't do those kinds of things in the United States. But those people really needed the surgeries. We needed to help them."

Nothing juiced the mythology of Tim Tebow like the news that he spent his spring break after his Heisman-winning sophomore year circumcising orphans in the Philippines. Even with everything else that Tebow had done in his career, on and off the field, it seemed so... larger-than-life.

Maybe it was Tebow performing surgeries. Maybe it was Tebow doing something as dramatic as performing THAT kind of surgery. Maybe it was the Biblical allusion of the act. Maybe it was the video documentation that accompanied it. Maybe it was that it was the PERFECT fodder for sports bloggers.

It was a combination of all of them, it became a defining detail of Mythic Tebow. (It also led to a fun post on my own blog, in which I invited Tebow to perform at the bris of my newborn son, born in October 2008. Or, as I liked to say: Tebow as mohel. Unfortunately -- or perhaps fortunately for both of us -- it was a game week and Tebow was unavailable.)

That same trip overseas also led to what might be my favorite Tebow photo of all time:

No. 10: Tebow commits
No. 9: "I'm coming back!"
No. 7: Crying
No. 6: 20/20
Coming Tuesday: No. 5.
Coming Wednesday: No. 4, 3 and 2.
Coming Thursday: No. 1.

Tebow on Meyer Break: "He Needs It"

"He needs to for himself and for his health. He needs to take a lot of that burden off and just rejuvenate, just let himself recover and let his heart recover. I think he needs it. Because of that and the love he has for his family, I think he’ll be able to do that and walk away at least for a while and recover. It will be good for him to get away and rejuvenate and get ready to come back. I think it will be good for him."

-- Tim Tebow on Urban Meyer's leave of absence. (Like the rest of the team, Tebow also completely supports interim coach Steve Addazio.) Tebow also said that, to help Meyer relax, he will play golf with him. I'd like to see footage of that. (As I said yesterday, I actually think that Meyer will find some peaceful moments simply concentrating on getting Tebow ready for the NFL Draft and talking about Tebow with teams that have an interest in drafting him.)

Be sure to check out the first three entries in the Top 10 Tebow Moments list.

Top Tebow Moment No. 9: "I'm Coming Back"

Tim Tebow's college football career has mere days remaining. All this week, a look back at the Top 10 defining moments of his career.

"Oh, and one more thing: Let's do it again... I'M COMING BACK."

Tim Tebow is not a naturally opaque person. One of his best characteristics is the what-you-see-is-what-you-get. Tebow had just finished an 80 second speech to the crowd gathered at The Swamp to celebrate the 2008 national championship. He was walking off the stage... then he turned around and made his announcement.

He would return for his senior season, for the Gators' title defense.

And, with that, the "championship or bust" expectations were set: That this player -- this team -- had no margin for error. Tebow was not coming back just to play college football again; he was coming back to win another national title, to cement his place as the greatest college football player ever.

Wow, doesn't that moment feel like 10 years ago? So much...lighter. Watching the video again really hammers home how heavy the expectations were this season, to the point of crushing much of the joy out of what should have been the greatest season ever.

All that said, I have no doubt that if given the choice, Tebow would "do it again"... again.

The Complete Top 10
10. Commits to UF
9. I'm Coming Back!
8. Circumcisions
7. Crying
6. 20/20
5. The Virgin
4. Taunting Oklahoma
3. John 3:16
2. The Jump-Pass
1. The Promise

Top Tebow Moment No. 10: Commits to Florida

Tim Tebow's college football career has mere days remaining. All this week, a look back at the Top 10 defining moments of his career.

"I will be playing college football next year at the University of Florida."

An examination of the top moments of Tim Tebow's college career has to start with the event that officially launched his college career: Committing to play for Florida.

Start with this background, the ESPN documentary "The Chosen One" that made Tebow the most recognized high school player and hotly anticipated college football player of the decade.

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5

Tebow was the linchpin of Urban Meyer's first real recruiting class -- the ultimate QB to run Meyer's spread offense, as well as a natural leader to lay the foundation for Meyer's system. Tebow was the must-have, and Meyer was in a fight with Alabama to get Tebow. It is fun to look back and see that Tebow was rated the No. 1-ranked "dual-threat" QB in the country by Rivals (No. 12 overall).

Ultimately, Tebow chose Florida -- in no small part because Tebow himself grew up a huge Gators fan, but ultimately because of the father-son relationship that Meyer offered him. Tebow's parents were Florida alums and his brother was then a Florida junior.

Looking back, it is almost impossible to consider how history is changed if Tebow chose Alabama. (Almost certainly, Florida would not have won the 2006 or 2008 national titles. And while Tebow's presence might not have saved David Shula's job -- Bama would trade Shula for Saban every time -- it would have been interesting; would Tebow have fit in Saban's pro-style offense?)

The fact remains: Tebow picking Florida was the precipitating event that led to everything that would follow.

The Complete Top 10
10. Commits to UF
9. I'm Coming Back!
8. Circumcisions
7. Crying
6. 20/20
5. The Virgin
4. Taunting Oklahoma
3. John 3:16
2. The Jump-Pass
1. The Promise

Tim Tebow Countdown of Defining Moments

With Tim Tebow's college career just days from completion -- Friday night, when the final seconds tick off in the Sugar Bowl -- is going to look back on the Top 10 defining moments of Tebow's career. Here is the schedule:

Monday: No. 10, 9, 8.
Tuesday: No. 7, 6, 5.
Wednesday: No. 4, 3, 2.
Thursday: No. 1.

You should expect to see a new entry in the morning, one at midday and one in the afternoon. (Today there will be one at noon, one at 2-ish and one at 4:30-ish.)

Please weigh in with your own comments about each moment -- on Thursday, I will open it up to everyone's favorite Tebow memory. Please email with any stories I might include.

UPDATE: The countdown is complete. Here is the list:

The Complete Top 10
10. Commits to UF
9. I'm Coming Back!
8. Circumcisions
7. Crying
6. 20/20
5. The Virgin
4. Taunting Oklahoma
3. John 3:16
2. The Jump-Pass
1. The Promise

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Tebow on Meyer: Nevermind!

Well, now THAT was a whole lot about nothing, wasn't it?

Urban Meyer isn't leaving Florida. He is taking a "leave of absence" that will likely not last past August of 2010 -- if not spring practice.

Tim Tebow was at Urban Meyer's press conference today to talk about his non-resignation, and Tebow was the smoothest participant of the group, which included Tebow, Meyer, AD Jeremy Foley and defensive captain Ryan Stamper. The topic? All Meyer.

This was the best quote from Tebow:
"When he told us that he was coming back, you could see a little bit more joy came into his eyes and came to his face, and it just got brighter. And that’s what I remember most. When he’s around the people he loves and he’s talking about his family, he lights up, and that’s what was very special about today."
That said, the entire episode wasn't without some pain for Tebow: "Was very hurtful to me...seeing him struggle...hit me like a ton of bricks." (h/t AA)

After Meyer finished the barrage of questions, leave it to Tebow to put it all in perspective:

"We want him to do what's best for him. We want him to get himself right, and when he's right then come back to coaching, then get back into ball."

And this:

"I admire him for the decisions he’s made. As a team we support him, as Gator Nation we support him. I think he’s making the best decision."

This is going to be a fun rest of the week. Tim Tebow's college career ends in five days.

Tim Tebow Reacts to Urban Meyer's Resignation

"I believe he has made the right decision for him and his family."

That was Tim Tebow's reaction to the resignation of Urban Meyer as head coach at Florida. I think it echoes what the rest of us are thinking -- but from a player who knew him as well as anyone outside his family could.

The "Tebow Era" at Florida is now necessarily intertwined with the "Meyer Era" at Florida -- Meyer got to Gainesville a year before Tebow, but his run didn't really begin until Tebow agreed to join him. The next four years were as good for any player -- and any coach -- as we have seen in college football in a generation.

If Tebow was given any say in the search for a new coach -- and he won't, but Tebow's opinion will reflect Meyer's -- I think he would support his mentor Dan Mullen being hired from Mississippi State to return to Florida. (Mullen provides philosophical continuation from Meyer. He knows the offense. And he is a Meyer loyalist.)

Meyer leaving is tough for the program -- except that a stressed-to-the-point-of-failing-health Meyer isn't a good thing for anyone... not himself, not Gator Nation. This entire season -- all the talk of "championship or bust" -- now feels like a cautionary tale for those kind of expectations. Tim Tebow was reduced to tears. Urban Meyer was driven to retirement.

Looking ahead, I think Meyer will play a much larger part in Tebow's preparation for the NFL Draft, and I wouldn't be surprised if, in this capacity, Meyer didn't try to steer NFL coaching staffs that would use him most ideally.

I'm sure Tebow is upset -- more because his mentor is going through this in his life (physically and emotionally) than because Meyer is actually leaving the program with Tebow next Friday night. As Meyer finds some distance, he will be able to relax -- so will Tebow.

But as far as the next week goes, Tebow's final college game just got a little more insane.

Let Tebow have the last word:

"I love Coach Meyer. The past four years he has been my dad away from home. We will always have a father-son relationship.
Coach loves the university, his players and the fans.... He will always be loved by me and the Gator faithful."

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Tim Tebow's College Career: One Week Left

Worth watching again...

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas, Tim Tebow Fans

Merry Christmas, Tim Tebow fans. It has been a slow week, but next week will be full-throttle coverage leading up to the Sugar Bowl and Tim Tebow's final college football game.

There will also be a fair amount of context-setting as we reach the end of the decade: Where does Tim Tebow rank, among college football players -- and among all athletes of the decade?

Looking for a last-minute gift for the Tebow fan in your life? You can always go with the classic "15" jersey, but my wife got me the bootleg "HE15MAN" T-shirt I have wanted for three years.

(As a budget alternative to the jersey, I love the replica jersey T-shirt -- it's my go-to gameday shirt and a little more "normal" for an adult to wear than a jersey, which is for Saturdays only.)

Anyway, enjoy the holiday -- in whatever way you might celebrate it.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

I Want My... Tim Tebow?

Remember "I Want My MTV" as the slogan for fans to get their local cable companies to show the new music television network?

How about "I Want My Tim Tebow?"

As a Time-Warner cable customer, all I want for Christmas is... Fox and Time Warner Cable to figure out their cable-fee negotiation by the December 31 deadline.

If Time-Warner blacks out Fox and I can't get the Sugar Bowl and Tim Tebow's college finale on my TV on Jan. 1, we're going to have problems.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Tebow Senior Bowl Watch: Uncertain

Will Tim Tebow play in the Senior Bowl? He said he doesn't know yet:
“I don’t know. I haven’t talked to anybody about it. If the people I talk to that are wise think that I should play in it, I’ll go play in it. If they don’t, I won’t. I don’t know. I’ll do whatever I need to do — throw out here a million times, I don’t care.”
My guess? He won't play in the Senior Bowl. Too much of a risk that there will be a negative meme that develops that will drive the rest of his draft prep.

Prediction: He will prep in private and get ready for the NFL Combine, Florida's Pro Day and individual team workouts.

(Of course, this is all moot if there really is this ludicrous-sounding conspiracy that the Jaguars will take him in the first round, regardless of how he tests, and all other teams will let them.)

Monday, December 21, 2009

Tim Tebow Art: Te-BB-bow

Call it "Tim Te-B-B-bow." A Florida art student created a portrait of Tim Tebow... made out of BB pellets.

(Let's see if the UAA asks the museum to take it down for the two weeks remaining until Tim Tebow's college eligibility is up.)

Tim Tebow: SEC Player of the Decade

The essential SEC blog TeamSpeedKills has named Tim Tebow as the SEC's Player of the Decade. It would be difficult to name anyone else that would even make it a debate.

That Tebow would be the clear-cut best player in the best conference of the decade supports the (already strong) argument that he is the Player of the Decade in all of college football.

But let's look beyond that, at least from an SEC perspective:

Given his success -- and especially with the various records that fell this season -- Tim Tebow established himself as the greatest player in SEC history -- the oft-quoted "Move over, Herschel."

Consider trying to argue with someone in the year 2000 -- or even 2005 -- that there would be a player that would eclipse Herschel Walker at the top of the SEC's best ever. Amazing.

Certainly in terms of SEC history -- maybe college football history -- I think the decade will be remembered as "The Tebow Era." (Unless it's known, less fondly, as "The BCS Era.")

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Tim Tebow, Florida Graduate

(Photo by Gainesville Sun. Story here.)

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Graduation Day for Tim Tebow

"Tebow is unlike any player in the history of college football — no player has ever come close to combining mythic on-field performance with mythic off-field performance in the way Tebow has."

That would be a quote from... um... well... me, in today's Gainesville Sun cover story in conjunction with Tim Tebow's graduation today, about the impact Tebow has left on the University of Florida. Great take (by a non-sports reporter, which is a great perspective), and the fact that the Sun reporter, Nate Crabbe, used my quote at the top makes me think that my thesis -- that of Tebow as combination of man and myth -- fit with his reporting.

(Unfortunately, the reporter got the name of the blog wrong, calling it "the Teblog," as opposed to "" Ah, well.)

Actually, when the reporter emailed me for some kind of comment about Tebow, I ended up composing nearly 500 words, trying to sum up Tebow's impact. The Sun reporter only used my main thesis statement at the top. Here's the whole thing I sent him:
Tebow is unlike any player in the history of college football -- no player has ever come close to combining mythic on-field performance with mythic off-field performance in the way Tebow has.

It all starts with what he does on the field -- there are plenty of athletes devoted to community service. Few of them are considered among the best of all time in their sport. At the same time, there have been plenty of superstar athletes; few of them -- if any -- are as visibly committed to community service as Tebow is.

Because of Tebow's success on the field, his prolific off-field work gets increased attention. Then it becomes a virtuous cycle.

Part of it is that Tebow's off-field accomplishments are so neatly captured for today's media age: "He ministers to prisoners!" "He performs circumcisions on orphans!" "He is ambushed by and leaves them wishing humanity happy holidays!" All of these things can be passed around endlessly via YouTube, sports blogs and TV. Small details quickly become defining mythologies.

But part of it is that his transparent life resonates with people -- even non-fans -- who constantly battle with what we see as inauthenticity all around us. Tebow walks the talk. The same week Tiger Woods is busted for allegedly having multiple mistresses, Tim Tebow is crying on the sidelines after a devastating loss.

It isn't just people who share his religious values, either -- although that is a large part of his core constituency. His secular appeal is that he puts others first, whether he is taking 15 minutes to sign autographs for fans who stop him on campus or helping the Powder Puff group raise money for a new Shands pediatric unit.

But it's not just a single example of those things. It is constant, everyday and part of who he is as a person. It is additive and self-reinforcing. And fans are attracted to that kind of consistency of values in the same way they were attracted to his on-field cheerleading theatrics. Because we feel that's who he really is.

Ultimately, Tebow is such an obvious example of who the rest of us would like to be that he makes fans feel better about themselves for rooting for him. Partly, people want to cheer for a highlight-spinning, game-winning football hero. But what sets Tebow apart is that we want to cheer for the convict-ministering, baby-circumcising humanist, too.
So: Is it wrong to give myself the "Tebow Quote of the Day?"

Friday, December 18, 2009

Tim Tebow Graduates! Tim Tebow Graduates!

The headline to this post is, of course, an homage to the famous "Beverly Hills 90210" episode where the catch-phrase "Donna Martin Graduates!" became the signature moment of the show.

There is no such drama for Tim Tebow, who will graduate from the University of Florida this weekend with a degree in Family, Youth and Community Sciences.

He graduates with a slew of academic awards, not the least of which is his status as three-time Academic All-American of the Year and, this season, the "academic Heisman" (the Campbell Award).

Given his commitment to community service, you get the sense that if his football career ended tomorrow, Tebow would be able to take his degree and his skills and be really successful.

Mostly, there is the symbolism: He had his final homecoming game. He had his final home game at The Swamp. He had his final SEC game. He will play his final college football game in 2 weeks.

And then there is this:

As of this weekend, Tim Tebow is no longer a student at the University of Florida. He is a graduate of the University of Florida. He is an alum, perhaps the proudest one ever.

He leaves behind a legacy as a student that is unmatched in the school's history.

There's this great ad the school produced that ran the past couple of years -- not this year -- where various Gators (past, present and future) walk past each other in friendly greeting and say stuff like "Go to Mars," "Go cure cancer" and "Go write the Great American Novel."

It's all a clever reference to the universal greeting and goodbye between Gator fans -- and particularly Gator students and alumni: "Go Gators."

It's fair to wonder what Tim Tebow's "Go..." moment will be.

"Go be an NFL quarterback..."
"Go be a community leader..."
"Go become a football coach..."
"Go be Governor of Florida..."

Between his skills and his fame, Tim Tebow has the unique opportunity -- perhaps among any Florida graduate ever -- to "Go" do something with massive impact on society: Entertain, lead, set an example.

That's my "commencement address" to Tebow and the (December) Class of 2009.

(Why do I think that the class would vote to have Tebow address them, if they could?)

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Tim Tebow: Player of the Decade in College Football (Says SI)

Tim Tebow was named the "Player of the Decade" in college football by Sports Illustrated. Needless to say: Agreed. No player combined championships, individual accomplishment, awards, off-field activity and media mythologizing in the way Tebow did.

("The Promise" earned the No. 5 spot for most memorable moments of the decade in college football. I'd argue it should be No. 1. Ten years from now, fans will vaguely remember Boise State's Statue of Liberty play -- few actually saw it live -- but everyone will recognize "The Promise.")

Tim Tebow And The Carpool Queen

One of my favorite parts of editing a site about Tim Tebow is the wonderful stories that people either send to me or post themselves on their own personal blogs. We can all come from very different backgrounds yet have an interesting perspective or story to tell about Tebow.

"CarpoolQueen" is a stay-at-home-mom in North Carolina with a great post on TT, affirming her fandom for Tebow (even if she isn't a Florida fan). Her story captures one of the most unique things about Tebow: The way he can earn fans who would otherwise hate the Florida QB or the Gators football team. It's a nice contrast to the schadenfreude.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Tebow On Crying: Haters No Big Deal

"I’m used to hearing everything from fans, and so you know what, if they enjoy seeing me cry, I have bigger things to worry about."

-- Tim Tebow, on whether he's bothered by the schadenfreude over the crying thing. Totally consistent with everything he's ever said. (h/t: Ben Volin)

Why Did Tim Tebow Cry?

What moved Tim Tebow to tears on the sidelines of the SEC Championship Game? He explained:

"A lot of your dreams of the year are crashing. Those emotions are hitting you, those feelings are hitting you. It's hard. It’s tough to deal with. Just sitting there watching them get first down and then first down winding the clock and knowing you can’t do anything about it."

As noted here post-game: Frustration. Disappointment. On an epic scale.

(The frustration of "watching them get a first down" was foreshadowed on Saturday during the Heisman media availability, when Tebow used the word "friggin'" to describe the way Alabama's offense marched on Florida's defense.)

Tebow mentioned being upset over how Florida let it get to the point where Alabama put it out of reach.

It doesn't look like any of the beat reporters asked the logical follow-up question: To what extent did Tebow blame the defense? Because he seems to edge towards assessing responsibility.

It is unclear whether "you can't do anything about it" in the context of allowing Alabama to get "first down and then first down" means that he was frustrated that he, personally, couldn't do anything... or that "you" means that the entire team -- by association, the defense -- couldn't do anything about it.

The loss is still obviously acute for the team, but it already feels like it is receding into history -- not without season-imploding impact, but there's nothing you, me or Tebow can do to change it now.

More from Tebow yesterday at practice:
"I don't think you ever get over a loss. It's going to hurt, hurt for a while. But I think we're over the point where we're feeling sorry for ourselves and we're getting back to work and working hard to get ready for a good Cincinnati team.

"It was just frustrating that we let that game get to that point, how we weren't at least in it at the very end. That was uncharacteristic of our team, of Coach Meyer and myself and everybody.

"It's not how I wanted it to end. It was just a hurtful time. A lot of your dreams for the year are crashing and you know that. Those emotions are hitting you. It's tough to deal with, especially when you care so much. You're sitting there and you can't do anything about it.

"It would be a good season, but obviously not what we wanted. It's something we need to do, show some character and finish strong. When you get knocked down, you've got to get back up. It shows your character."

h/t: G'ville Sun

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Tim Tebow Will "Finish Strong"

"You've got to finish strong. It's the last game I'll play in as a Gator, and obviously I want to win it very badly. And so do the other seniors. We just want to leave the right way."

-- Tim Tebow, on his motivation for the Sugar Bowl.

For lots of reasons, I think the Gators are going to put on a show in the Sugar Bowl. First, I think Meyer will get them amped -- for so many key players, this is it. Second, I think that Cincy's defense isn't particularly good -- certainly not Alabama good. And I think Florida's D is unlike any Cincy has faced this season, which should give Tebow plenty of possessions.

Going out with a big game won't erase the sting of losing the SEC Championship Game, but it will allow for Florida to finish as high as 2nd and allow Tebow to go out a big winner.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Tim Tebow: The Anti-Tiger?

From George Diaz in the Orlando Sentinel:
There might be a few people still rolling their eyes. They obviously don't get it. You can dissect all of Tebow's warts on the football field and argue whether he is talented enough to play football on Sundays. That's all going to play out in due course.

But what's undeniable is that Tebow is a remarkable young man who has emerged as an MVP on a larger stage than a college football field.


His unworldly endeavors give us hope that all athletes -- from Little Leaguers to pros -- emulate Tebow and borrow his playbook.


I'll say this: If Tebow is a phony, then let's shut down any hope that an athlete can truly be a role model. Tebow gives us reason to read sports pages without cringing at the clutter of police reports and egotistical freaks who refer to themselves in the third person.
That athletes are highly fallible people is not a reason to dismiss them -- there is plenty of evidence to show that many high-end athletes fail as people for precisely the same reasons they succeed as athletes. It's the same with many high-performers.

I think Diaz is doing something very dangerous here when he says "If Tebow is a phony..." What he implies is that ANY display of inconsistency of character from Tebow -- not that he has shown any so far -- would be cause to label him a "phony." I'd prefer to give Tebow a little more wide berth than that. He has built up enough goodwill that even something he does that might be out of character -- again, not that any of us are expecting that -- won't tarnish his legacy off the field, any more than losing to Alabama tarnished the rest of his legacy as a football player on the field.

What makes Tebow unique is the way he seemingly lives his values -- and doesn't push those values on people, but instead leads by example.

The Only Tim Tebow Video You Need To See

Tebow Swears: "Friggin"

The closest you will get to Tim Tebow swearing is to catch him in a moment of weakness -- like when he used "friggin'" as an adjective on Saturday night, when discussing the way Alabama and Heisman winner Mark Ingram ran over Florida.

The sideline tears may have displayed Tebow's disappointment over the game's result, but it is the near-swear -- can't imagine that Tebow works any bluer than that -- that shows how frustrated he remains by the result. (Still bothering him a week after the game is over, no less.)

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Tebow Watch: Do Fans in NYC Notice?

I've been totally entertained this evening by following the Twitter feed of the Palm Beach Post's Ben Volin, who covers the Gators for the PBP. It seems he's on the same flight from New York City to Jacksonville as the Tebow clan, but apparently, Tim could sit by the gate in New York without so much as a fan approaching him. Then, the guy sitting next to Volin on the plane -- in a Yankees cap, of course -- says he has no idea who "Tim Tebow" is. I find all this fascinating.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Tebow Heisman Watch: 5th Place

Tim Tebow finished in 5th place in the 2009 Heisman vote. He earned 43 1st-place votes. He appeared on 26 percent of ballots -- either 1st, 2nd or 3rd. He finished in 5th place in 5 out of 6 regions, even the Southeast. In the Mid-Atlantic region, he finished 6th.

Tebow Heisman Watch: He Will NOT Win

Tim Tebow will not win the 2009 Heisman Trophy.

It might be the most unpredictable voting in years -- maybe ever -- but Tebow is not a part of that drama.

In fact, let's be honest: Given Tebow's projected finish -- a distant 5th -- it is fair to say that if the 5th-place candidate was not named "Tebow," he would not have been invited to New York.

That, by the way, is as much of a testament to Tebow's clout and legacy in college football as anything: He is so important that they make Heisman-sized exceptions, just for him.

(Consider that he is only the third-time finalist in Heisman history, and the first since Herschel Walker from 1980-1982 -- one more reason Tebow is on college football's Mount Rushmore.)

For some people, maybe that makes them more fatigued with Tebow than they already are. But it's not like they are giving him the award itself this year.

I will consider it some voters giving Tebow a nod for his contribution to the sport, this season and this decade. Colt McCoy is in the room for the same reason.

While he has had a largely ceremonial place in the balloting since last weekend, the focus of the Heisman race, appropriately, has not been on Tebow.

That doesn't mean he doesn't have a deserving place in the finalist field.

When we look back to the summer, the Heisman race was going to be one more of the compelling things happening around Tebow this season that made him the most fascinating person in sports in 2009. It's part of the legacy: Awards. Tebow is arguably the most decorated college football player of all time. That made this final Heisman campaign a big deal.

That said: I had projected Tebow not to win the Heisman this season -- even when it was assumed to be a three-player race with McCoy and Sam Bradford.

My reasoning: Voters would want to go with the "guy who hadn't won it yet" -- McCoy. And even as Tebow remained near the top of the straw polls all season long, it seemed like the award was McCoy's to win. (Making McCoy's projected 4th-place finish all the more remarkable.)

Mark Ingram was not a preseason contender. Toby Gerhart wasn't. Ndamukong Suh certainly wasn't. Their projected 1-2-3 finish is a testament to the fact that the games matter, performances matter.

We knew that in 2007, when Tebow won his Heisman. We knew that in 2008, when Tebow earned more 1st-place votes than any other candidate.

And we know that in 2009, when Tebow is honored as a Heisman finalist -- higher than all but a handful of candidates, but falling a couple of spots short, mirroring the way the Gators finished the season.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Tebow In New York: On Heisman, NFL, More

So Tim Tebow is back in New York after a quick trip back to Florida for last night's awards show. Today, he fielded questions from the media as part of the group of Heisman finalists.

I'll be updating here with reports from his interview session.

*Tebow said he will throw for scouts at the NFL combine. I love that he is fearless about that; even if he needs work, let them see where he is -- let a team draft him knowing everything. (h/t: Volin, Fowler)

*I understand why he noted he was advised not to lift at the combine -- it will mess up his throwing -- but I was looking forward to Tebow smashing the combine bench-press record for QBs. (h/t: Volin)

*Tebow has high hopes for Florida in 2010: "Few positions left to reload, but a lot of positions are back and prob better than ever" (h/t: Fowler)

(Hmm: Does he think that the QB position will be better than ever with John Brantley? WRs should be deeper, RBs should be better, TE is a problem, OL is up in the air aside from Xavier Nixon -- it depends on the Pounceys' NFL decision.)

*Tebow said he wished he had a chance to play USC, Texas and Penn State -- the traditional powers. I think Florida would have beaten any of the three in any of Tebow's four years (except USC in 2007). (h/t: Fowler)

*On his Heisman shot: "I'm a competitor so I would love to win. That would be really cool, but I don't think I will" (h/t: Volin)

Tebow T-Shirts: Alabama Mocking Cont'd

Presented without comment, but making the rounds this week:
h/t: Sporting News

Tim Tebow, Kelly Faughnan and Why Awards Don't Really Matter

Well, college football held its annual big awards bash down in Orlando last night, and Tim Tebow was shut out. No Davey O'Brien award for best QB (Colt McCoy). And no three-peat on the Maxwell for best all-around player (Colt McCoy).

Among the highlights: Tebow did get to present the Disney Spirit award (which he won last year). And he did get to appear in a reasonably funny vignette with Colt McCoy, in which Tebow showed some nice comedic timing -- more than enough for all the commercials he'll be doing in 2010.

But all that is pretty meaningless when you consider his trip up the red carpet: He escorted his date, 20-year-old Kelly Faughnan, who was diagnosed with a brain tumor a year ago and -- after having it removed -- whose biggest wish was to see Tim Tebow at the awards show this year. He did more for her than that.

"We got to meet and hang out," Tebow said. "I asked her if she wanted to walk the red carpet with me, and so it was fun. She went and got this dress today."

Faughnan, 20, lives in Clifton, Va., was diagnosed with a brain tumor just before Thanksgiving in 2008, according to her father, Jim. Her tumor was removed just before Christmas and before her surgery Kelly asked if she could go to Disney World afterwards. She also asked to go to a college football awards show to see Tebow this year.

The players were at a function on Wednesday in Disney and Tebow spotted her wearing a "I love Timmy button." An ESPN producer saw her, talked to her and asked if she would like to meet him. He ended up spending 45 minutes with her and then invited Kelly to attend the show with him.
I swear, this is what drives me nuts about folks who claim to "hate" Tebow: When you read about that, how in the world can you hate him? I guarantee you that taking Kelly to the show meant more to him than winning an award. Way more.

More from the story:
Since he had a date on his arm, Tebow couldn't sign autographs when he walked through the pre-show on ESPNU. Rather than go inside the building, he turned around and went back and walked through the crowd a second time by himself, so he could sign autographs for anyone who wanted one.
We can talk all about "Triumphalist Tebow" when he wins or "Tragic Tebow" when he loses (or even "Teary Tebow," from the past week), but here is my favorite:

"Typical Tebow."

And sometimes that's for when he bulls into the end-zone. Sometimes that's for when he tries to incite the crowd. But, most times, it's when he is working in the community and doing things exactly like he did last night.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Tebow Draft Watch: Jags a Terrible Fit?

Yahoo's Charles Robinson had an interesting column yesterday, off of Charlie Crist's riff that the Jaguars should draft Tim Tebow and keep him in-state: Robinson argues that the Jaguars shouldn't draft Tebow. I agree that the Jaguars probably shouldn't draft Tebow, as you'll see, but I think Robinson missed some key points and whiffed on others.

(1) Start with the premise: Crist's point actually had nothing to do with Tebow's abilities as an NFL player. I don't think Crist was suggesting that by drafting Tebow, the Jaguars get better.

In fact, most people agree that the Jaguars drafting Tebow has little to do with football, and everything to do with marketing. They are very different.

And though it's rare to consider an NFL team using a 1st-round draft pick on a marketing consideration, the Jags are in a very desperate situation and Tebow is a singularly unique figure.

(2) Robinson says: "I can tell you what will happen if Tebow stays in Florida. Fans will expect immediate greatness."

That's simply not true. Fans will expect a couple of things: (1) The ability to buy a Tebow jersey. (2) The ability for Tebow to get on the field for at least a couple of snaps per game.

They are Tebow fans, but they are not stupid: They absolutely recognize that Tebow's NFL career needs development, perhaps serious development. Contrary to Robinson's point, they will be patient, precisely because they know that Tebow may eventually help.

(It's not unlike Tebow as a freshman at Florida -- he was the most popular Gator by a wide margin, within about three minutes of the first game of the season. But Urban Meyer only used Tebow selectively -- fans still went nuts, in part because he was effective in limited use, but in part because they were merely excited about what MIGHT be, years in the future.)

While Tebow won't be ready to handle 70 snaps per game as a full-time NFL starting QB -- though how many rookies are -- he can absolutely take a limited (but important) role at the goal-line or critical 4th-down situations, just like he did at Florida. And fans will love it.

(3) Then Robinson makes a fairly novel comparison: Doug Flutie playing for the Patriots from 1987-1989. I have never seen that comp, and I actually think there are some analogies.

Here is the key difference: With Flutie in New England, it was "starter or bust." With Tebow in Jacksonville, he can have a limited role -- again, not unlike his role at Florida in 2006 -- and contribute JUST ENOUGH for fans to be really happy with having him.

But the Flutie example is important for one other reason: Coaching.

Robinson cites, then dismisses, the Flutie fan gripe "They're not playing him right!" Tebow is in a similar situation: If he is playing for a conventional NFL coach who doesn't know how to use him, he won't do well -- fans will be frustrated.

Urban Meyer has talked extensively about this: He will dissuade any team from drafting him -- including the Jaguars (and Meyer has a great relationship with Jack Del Rio) -- if he thinks the coaching staff won't use Tebow correctly or try to get him to be something he isn't.

That's why Meyer has implicitly talked about Tebow playing for Meyer's best buddy, Bill Belichick. Belichick would find all the creative ways to unleash Tebow -- whether he is a traditional QB or not. But maybe -- under Belichick -- Tebow would re-define what it means to be a QB beyond being a QB: A guy that can play QB, FB, RB, TE, H-Back, whatever. This isn't Kordell Stewart's "Slash" -- this is Tebow as "Superback."

But that takes an innovative and confident thinker like Belichick. (And Belichick WANTS to get the chance to work Tebow into his schemes.) There aren't many like him in the NFL -- which is why Meyer is so unsettled about Tebow being a "marketing" pick for the Jaguars or Raiders or someone else, stuck on a crappy team with crappy coaching and a crappy career ahead.

Consider that Flutie didn't start to thrive NOT because he was no longer playing close to home, but because he finally was playing for coaches who knew how best to utilize his unique skills.

(More recently, consider that Vince Young didn't thrive because he got away from Texas -- obviously, he had his fair share of trouble in Tennessee. He started to thrive because Jeff Fisher implemented an offense that catered to VY's strengths... it didn't hurt that VY is playing alongside the most dangerous all-around player in the NFL, Chris Johnson.)

Fit matters in the NFL -- especially when you are talking about an unconventional player like Tebow. For Tebow, coaching and surrounding talent fit will matter most of all.

It won't matter if Tebow is in Jacksonville or Seattle or anywhere else -- selling jerseys and season tickets or not -- if he is coached by someone too conventional or insecure to find ways to use Tebow's unique skills.

In Jacksonville, yes, they would cynically draft him primarily for his marketing -- but as long as they used him just enough and innovatively (using his freshman year at Florida as a model), he would thrive, and fans would be thrilled.

It remains a very open question whether the current Jacksonville coaching staff is innovative and secure enough to follow through on that. If they aren't, then Tebow will have that much tougher of a time. If they are, Jacksonville is as fine of a fit as any other possibility.

Personally, I intensely dislike the Patriots and their fans -- although I am a huge fan of Bill Belichick. As a Tebow fan, I can swallow my loathing and hope that the Patriots still find a way to draft Tebow. Between the Jags' interest and the Patriots' pressing needs on defense, I suspect that he and Belichick won't get a chance to be partners. That's a shame.

You can only hope that Jacksonville -- if, in fact, they do draft Tebow -- finds a way to use Tebow creatively and actively.