Friday, April 23, 2010

The Exceptionalism of Tim Tebow

It is a day for a little Tebow triumphalism.

So many doubted that Tim Tebow would be -- or could be -- a 1st-round NFL Draft pick. Settled.

In fact, the most prescient analysis on the day of the draft came from the group of Tebow fans on Twitter who were contributing to the #timtebowcant topic. It was a quick-hit history lesson on all of the things over the years that critics said Tebow "can't" do.

But rather than triumphalism, I want to talk about exceptionalism, because I think that is the phenomenon that best describes Tebow.

Here's what I mean by "exceptionalism":

Virtually everything related to Tebow proves to be an exception to what many (even most) seem to feel are conventional expectations, which -- in the end -- simply don't apply to Tebow.

We see it over and over. The media delivers some pronouncement of Tebow's limitations -- ironically, based somewhat fairly on what they have seen before, from other athletes -- only to have Tebow exceed them. It's not necessarily the media's fault; there is simply no template for Tebow.

It is why he is the greatest college football player of all time -- there has never been the same combination of winning, statistical dominance and mythos.

It is why he turned out to be a 1st-round pick when most everyone told us he wouldn't/couldn't be.

And, to the point of this week's transition to the next phase of Tebow's life, it is why Tebow will succeed in the NFL as a quarterback. Tebow exceptionalism has been proven and re-proven.

Consequently, at some point, the endlessly recycled doubt should transform into benefit-of-the-doubt. The default should be that he will succeed, if only because he has never NOT succeeded.

To his NFL future specifically: What in Tebow's history makes you think that a combination of his own ethic plus a context conducive to his success -- namely, a QB guru of a coach who comes from the same Belichickean school that Tebow himself was developed in -- won't give him not just the best chance at succeeding, but the simple yet profound expectation that he will succeed.

(To that point: Just look at the initial quotes from Tebow about how devoted he already is to McDaniels and the Broncos and to working hard and to winning. And McDaniels reciprocated; he has his perfect disciple. And Meyer confirms it, a triangulation that indicates an ideal foundation for success.)

Tebow is going to contribute immediately to the Broncos. McDaniels implied as much, and if he is the Xs-and-Os mind he thinks he is, he will evolve the Wildcat to fit Tebow's unique abilities and deploy him in crucial short-yardage and goal-line situations throughout every game.

But more importantly for Tebow's legacy as an NFL player -- when today's triumphalism is long-buried under a resume of Sunday results -- he must develop into a starting -- even starring -- NFL quarterback for the Broncos.

To suggest that Tebow can't or won't become that starting/starring NFL QB -- particularly under these most ideal conditions -- is to ignore Tebow's legacy of exceptionalism. His unique history is not merely of succeeding, but of exceeding.

From high school through college through this pre-draft scrum, on the field and off of it, he has defied expectation and convention -- and proven time and again that he is an exception.

So when "everyone" insists that Tebow can't be a starting NFL quarterback for the Broncos, that Tebow can't succeed in the NFL -- let alone succeed wildly -- I merely direct them to the simple reality of Tebow's own history. Given that, it would be the diametrically incorrect conclusion to doubt him.

Instead of presuming his failure then expressing shock at his success, presume his success -- and be shocked only if he doesn't reach it (not without precedent).

But every sign points to his success. Exceptional success.


More updates through the weekend as merited, but otherwise, please come back next week for an important update on the future of


  1. Don't you dare think about stopping Dan...seriously.

  2. We are only interested in an update that says you will be leading us on as we root for Tim and the TEBroncOWs!

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  4. Well written as usual, Dan.

    Although I'll be disappointed if you end the blog, I can understand why you would. It must be time-consuming & you undoubtedly have a very busy schedule. However I'd really appreciate it if you would leave the site up for awhile so I can finish going through the archives (I only discovered the site earlier this year).

  5. Does anyone know where there is any video of Tebow playing basketball with his family on draft dat? I have always been interested to see him play other sports.

    Urban Meyer said he didn't fully understand how great a competitor Tebow was when he was recruiting him until he watched him playing high school baseball. Urban Meyer said Tebow almost killed him playing basketball one on one, too. haha

  6. Please don't leave us Dan...take a break with minimal updates until the start of the season...then maybe a weekly article about the success of our favorite NFLer.

    Thanks for everything.

  7. @ReedRichards: "Does anyone know where there is any video of Tebow playing basketball with his family on draft dat?"

    There aren't any clips of that at youtube right now, but you might want to try in a couple of days. Also, maybe the NFL Network's site & ESPN's site.

    There wasn't that much of the game shown (only several seconds at a time) & it was just the kind of casual game of hoops people play at home.

  8. past performance predicts future behavior...therefore, Dan is correct. Tim Tebow will be VERY successful in the NFL. In fact, I think he'll be up there with Roger Stauback when it's all said and done.


  10. for ReedRichards (& anyone else interested): the NFL Network is going to repeat the 1st Round of the draft Sun 4/25 night at 7pm eastern & Mon 4/26 at 1pm eastern. Tim & his brothers were shown playing basketball a little during the initial broadcast, but I don't know if it will be edited out of the replay.

  11. ^^Adding to Brooke's comment, I know they're re-airing the Draft recap on ESPN2 tonight at 8 p.m. I didn't get to see it, so I don't know if they showed that exact footage, but you never know.

    Either that or you could wait around for the documentary that they're shooting, I'm sure they'll have footage of the game and more! :)

    Also, awesome on meeting Tim, Dan...I really hope you continue to go on with the site, I can't imagine not reading it anymore!

  12. NFL Network changed the times of the re-air of the 1st round. It's now on at 8pm eastern tonight & 12:30pm eastern tomorrow.

    Also, for Reed, NFL Network did a 1-hour draft recap show hosted by a blonde female earlier tonight that did show a few seconds of Tim playing basketball at, I think, about 9 mins & 39 mins (or 49 mins?) into the show.

    @Laura: Thanks for mentioning the ESPN recap show-I forgot to mention it.

  13. I agree with everyone else.... we are worried about one thing... the future of the tim tebow blog.... Please dont tell us you are leaving us!!!!

  14. I forgot about that documentary. I bet they will have a lot of Bball footage there. Thanks ya'll.

    Oh yeah.. there was a video showing Tebow shooting some pics for the EA game Tebow was playing a little basketball on there for some reason too. He had a nice move on there.

  15. "The default should be that he will succeed, if only because he has never NOT succeeded."

    In the arena of philosophical thought, this is pretty dang weak (go ask David Hume). The past doesn't guarantee even the smallest part of the future. It's not always an awful indicator, but it sure isn't proof. Just sayin'.

    I'm sure TT will do well enough in Denver, though; and now that he's out of Florida (and MAN do I hope I'll have to put up with heart-attack-waiting-to-happen Urban Meyer is a douche who can't unclench stories less frequently), I have less of a problem rooting for him as a solid Christian and a fun player to watch.

  16. Please tell us the blog is staying!

  17. Great post. You could re-publish it almost verbatim for his current situation, pushed off the Broncos and joining the Jets!