Thursday, May 27, 2010

Broncos Tebow: Up to 3rd-String QB

Tim Tebow has apparently moved up to 3rd-string QB of the Broncos, ahead of Tom Brandstater (per the Denver Post's Lindsay Jones).

And so at the current rate, he will be 1st-string QB by mid-June. (I'm kidding.) Although we all knew that Tebow moving up the depth chart -- if not all the way to QB1 (yet) -- was an inevitability.

Probably didn't think it would happen this quickly, but it is fun to watch. Tracking more from passing camp today. (Jones' @PostBroncos is a great Twitter feed to follow.)

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Brand Tebow: No. 17 on SportsGrid

There is a new sports site launching today by some folks I know called SportsGrid. Its signature content is a series of rankings of athletes, teams, executives and sports-media folks that changes dynamically, depending on online buzz, media mentions, SEO juice and general influence.

It should come as no surprise, then, that Tim Tebow is already No. 17 among NFL players -- I suspect that if the site was live a month ago, Tebow would have been in the Top 5, perhaps even No. 1. And that by the time we get to the regular season, his ranking will only go up.

(For what it's worth, I am listed somewhere in the low 200s among sports-media types.)

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Brand Tebow: ESPN's Tebow Watch

To respond to everyone's emails all at once:
Welcome to ESPN.com's Tebow Watch!

Friday, May 21, 2010

Brand Tebow: Counterfeit Jerseys!

As soon as it came out that Tim Tebow was the NFL's jersey-sales king, you knew the Chinese knock-off jerseys would follow. The Feds were apparently ready for it.

Let's take it as a compliment. They don't make knock-off jerseys for Brady Quinn or Kyle Orton.

(I know it's $75 for a replica -- and like $200+ for an authentic -- but either suck it up and buy the real thing or go the clever budget route and spend $26 on the jersey-style T-shirt.)

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Tim Tebow vs. Anthony Calvillo

Why would a comparison between Tim Tebow and a CFL quarterback be a very good thing for Tebow? One of Tebow's QB tutors, Marc Trestman, explains here.

Broncos Tebow: Paige's Last Word?

My old "Around the Horn" buddy Woody Paige has been Denver's most bullish analyst of Tim Tebow's NFL future. In Paige's latest Denver Post mailbag, I think he presents his last word:
I'm getting tired of me talking about Tebow. He's going to be an all-pro quarterback. He can throw... run, lead and play.
Simple. Undoubtedly, Paige's bearish columnist colleagues at the Post will agree to disagree.


Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Broncos Tebow: "4th-and-Tebow"

I have talked a bunch about how central to the Broncos' decision to draft Tim Tebow is that Josh McDaniels plans to be particularly innovative in his offensive schemes -- I would argue far more than the boundaries of typical NFL offensive orthodoxy.

Not unlike the way the Dolphins unleashed the Wildcat on an unsuspecting NFL (unsuspecting Bill Belichick, no less), just because it hasn't been done doesn't mean it can't or won't or shouldn't be done. In fact, there are huge rewards to being innovative.

There is a really good post on the terrific Michigan blog MGoBlog that caught my attention, initially because the title of the post was "Fourth Down Decisions: Never Punt With Tebow." But when you dig into the post -- and, be forewarned, it is very dense and very wonky -- you recognize that the quantitative analysis suggests just how radical the Broncos' offense with Tebow could be, particularly as it relates to going for it on 4th down.

I have made this argument all spring: Even if all Tebow does his rookie year is come in occasionally on short-yardage or 4th-down situations -- let alone goal-line or red-zone situations -- he has the potential to dramatically impact his team's expected value of winning the game.

Florida fans saw this regularly, as part of something that came to be known as "Tebow Time." For these purposes, I'll dub it "4th-and-Tebow."

I think it comes down to McDaniels' confidence to go against NFL coaching orthodoxy, rather than a limitation of his imagination. If he can stand the external pressures (particularly if early attempts aren't successful), there is very little downside to implementing innovations.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Tebow Gear: NFL Draft Shirt

Well, that'll teach me. I spotted this shirt on various online sports-gear websites last week, but didn't post about it -- don't ask me why. I could have been first! Oh, well. Today, the shirt made its way to Rockin The Orange and Blue (nee Tebow's Eye Black) and the Denver Post's Broncos blog.



Oh, make no mistake: It's entirely garish. But it is a must-have for Tebowphiles precisely because of its garishness, not to mention as a commemoration of the draft. In 10 years, you'll be glad you have it -- not unlike the "2007 Heisman Trophy Winner" T-shirt that doesn't have Tebow's name. (Now that he's a pro, can we please get a shirt made up that includes his name next to that title?)

By the way, as long as we're noting Tebow T-shirts, there is a very interesting budget alternative to the $75 Broncos jersey -- the $26 jersey-style T-shirt:



Yes, I ordered both.

Broncos Tebow: Tebow Knows His Place

Yeah, yeah: Tim Tebow is "4th" on the depth chart. Much more notable, his attention to detail -- going so far as to shadow Kyle Orton's motions -- and his eagerness to perform the traditional roles of the NFL rookie, like carrying the veterans' helmets. That is the quick way to earn their respect and trust: Knowing your place. And, by every account, Tebow knows his place.

Meanwhile, Denver Post columnist Dave Krieger sets a new standard for deploying a straw man for an argument, pushing this line that "everyone" is comparing Tebow to John Elway, when "everyone" clearly is not.

Just because someone in the OTA media horde asks Tebow about John Elway doesn't mean that it is a popular comparison. It's a pretty cynical (and entirely tenuous) ploy by Krieger to link Tebow to Elway, with a spice of spite thrown in. Trust me: In my other job, I'm a national sports columnist, so the technique is entirely familiar.

I'm sure it will be the most-viewed piece on DenverPost.com, which will make Krieger and his editors happy. Look: If Krieger disagrees with Woody Paige's bullishness on Tebow, shouldn't he skip the charade and address the column to Paige?

Monday, May 17, 2010

Tim Tebow Birthday Surprise

"Thank you, Tim Tebow!"
-- Gabe Shanoff, age 4.

My son's eyes were wide, disbelieving.

His 4th birthday was yesterday. It was an exhausting day, including a party for his 30 day-care classmates. It was 8:30 last night, and we had just finished sorting through the party clean-up and had just finished opening the last of his endless mound of gifts. I told him I had a surprise. Like any 4-year-old, he was intrigued.

He sat on the couch in between my wife and me, and I flipped on my computer. I opened a video file. My son saw the screengrab. Do you know who that is?, I asked. "Tim Tebow," he giggled.

Then I pushed "play" on the video.

Hi, Gabe. This is Tim Tebow, quarterback for the University of Florida...

I wasn't watching the screen. I was watching my son's face. His eyes went wide and he got this grin -- one of shock mixed with genuine delight -- on his face.

On-screen, Tebow continued on for another 10 seconds or so, wishing Gabe a happy birthday, along with some other extraordinarily pleasant messages: Have a great day, hope to meet you someday, your dad rules*, go Gators...

When it was over, Gabe spontaneously spoke directly to the computer, as if Tebow was on a Skype webcam actually talking to him live: "Thank you, Tim Tebow!"

As much as Tebow's message might have meant to Gabe, it was a priceless moment for me and my wife as parents, to see Gabe's reaction.

It is precisely why, in a moment of self-indulgence, I asked Tebow to record it for Gabe three weeks ago when I met him (and why I was grateful to Tebow for so enthusiastically agreeing to do it).

As any parent knows -- especially any relatively new parent -- the urge to do almost anything for your kid is overwhelming. It is more powerful than any drug, that moment when you see your kid happy, particularly from something you helped to do.

I could easily resist the temptation to ask Tebow, say, to sign something for me, because that was for me. But I simply couldn't resist asking him to do something for my kids. And I want to believe that my pure parental motivation was part of Tebow's enthusiastic participation in the video, although I know he is that generous with his greetings in almost every situation. We have all seen or heard about these more-frequent-than-you'd-expect moments where Tebow does something nice for a fan. It was fascinating to see it not just up close, but involving me. (In that way, I can almost justify asking as part of understanding the Tebow experience.)

Was it entirely pure? Again, as most parents can testify, many of the things you do for your kids are projections of your own interests -- especially when it comes to sports fandom, which is why you buy team stuff for kids too young to know any better. For example, I'm not asking Nick Saban to record a birthday video for my kid. But Gabe and his brother have about a dozen Gator T-shirts and jerseys.

We are a Gator family. And Gabe is a Gator kid. (One of his first T-shirts was one reading "Gator Gabe," custom-ordered by his aunt and uncle.) Born in the spring of 2006, one of Gabe's first words was "Tebow," but likely only because I kept yelling it out at the TV and tackling him every time Tebow scored a touchdown. (In the fall of 2007, that was quite a few tackles.)

But a few years later, Gabe has started to develop his own mind about these things -- his Gator/Tebow fandom is partly a nudge from his parents/grandparents, but on another level, entirely "his." So "Hi Gabe, this is Tim Tebow..." was fun for his parents, but it was his, too.

For my kid, the video was an incredible, barely believable treat -- for me, the treat was watching him watch the video.

So that would be a "Thank you, Tim Tebow" from both of us.

* - Not really, but kinda!

Broncos Tebow: OTA Monday

“I think something my [teammates] will know is how hard I’ll work, and my character and what I’m all about. So I don’t think that will bother them too much, to be honest. […] I’m just coming out here and playing football just like every other rookie. I’m just enjoying it and working hard.”

-- Tim Tebow, following Monday's all-team training session with the Broncos. More tomorrow and Wednesday.

Broncos Tebow: Vets Camping Today

Today kicks off the Broncos' 3-day "voluntary" mini-camp for the entire team's roster. As with the rookie minicamp, the headline story is Tim Tebow and the QB situation.

(UPDATE: Tebow is technically "4th" on the QB depth chart, which we all knew already. OK: That's on May 17. Let's see where things stand on August 17. Or December 17.)

For his part, Tebow undoubtedly would like to keep his head down and just keep learning -- playing with the vets will be far more instructive than his fellow wide-eyed rookies.

And for his part, Denver Post columnist Woody Paige sets the stage for more Tebowmania in Denver by setting a record for most would-be Tebow nicknames in a single column.

Paige notes, with little irony, that Tebow himself would just prefer to be called "Tim." No nickname necessary.

(Interesting tidbit buried in the Paige column: Buddy Martin is writing a book about Tebow. Martin previously wrote a book about Urban Meyer.)

UPDATE: While you wait to hear about minicamp action (Tebow handing off to RBs! Tebow working with WRs!), here is a phone interview he did with ESPN.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Brand Tebow: Home Run Derby

OK, so in that local Memphis story about Tebow's workouts, maybe the best detail WAS the baseball stuff -- the story of Tim Tebow going to a local high school team's BP and smacking 12 of 15 pitches for home runs.

Yahoo's Big League Stew baseball blog loves that story -- so do I. (To echo: Where's the video?! COME ON!)

I'm not saying there will be some kind of Michael Jordan moment 10 years from now, where we see Tebow playing minor-league baseball. But it certainly offers an interesting "what if?"

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Broncos Tebow: Working in Memphis

Prohibited from working out in Denver with the coaches, Tim Tebow has been hunkering down in Memphis to continue individualized NFL training and development that started in Tennessee in the months before the draft.

From this local newspaper column, the focus is obvious:
I'm trying to work hard and not get my mind cluttered with all that. When it gets to the point when something needs to be presented to me, I see it. Right now, it's all ball for me.
The best detail from the column: Tebow snuck into batting practice with a local high school baseball team and crushed 12 of 15 pitches for home runs. Make it happen, YouTube!

(Folks are going to talk about the column's throwaway detail that Tebow has turned down 7-figure endorsement deals to focus on football. Wasn't this already out there?)

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Mother's Day Salute: Pam Tebow

Apologies for being a few days' late on this, but the Denver Post's Lindsay Jones had a nice piece timed to Mother's Day about Tim Tebow's mom, Pam Tebow.

Money quote, from Tim:
For 25 years, she's pretty much put her life on hold for me and my siblings. She invested in our lives — we were her No. 1 priority, and nothing else really mattered. Now, she's getting to do a lot of things she loves to do too with the speaking and the writing and the traveling. She loves it, though I still don't think she loves it as much as she loved raising all her kids.
And here is the money quote from Pam:
We have to be intentional about the way we mother and parent. We have to have a plan and a target, a goal for them, an idea in mind of how you want them to end up.
I think it is really important to recognize that the insight above has nothing to do, explicitly, with home-schooling or anything specific to how Pam raised her kids; inclusively, it allows for the parent to do what they need to do, as long as you are being mindful (or "intentional") about it.

"An idea in mind of how you want them to end up": I know that is a huge focus for the way my wife and I are raising our two kids. There might be multiple paths -- and a whole lot of luck -- to get your kids to that goal, but parenting starts with the end goal.

Very personally, my wife and I as parents have specific goals in mind for our kids: That they be essentially joyful people, that they contribute meaningfully to society. There is a lot of room in there for how that manifests itself -- and how we get them there.

But we have a vision, not unlike Pam Tebow's own vision for raising her own kids.

Tim Tebow vs. Manny Pacquiao

From the strange-but-true file: Manny Pacquiao -- widely considered one of the greatest boxers out there today -- was just elected to represent the province in which the Tebow's orphanage is located. (h/t: Joe Goodman)

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Brand Tebow: Jersey Record "Surreal"

"I think it's an honor for people to want my jersey and want to have it and want to wear it. It is somewhat surreal to have it sell more than some of these people I grew up idolizing."

-- Tim Tebow, on selling more jerseys than any player in the NFL in April (and more jerseys in the post-draft weekend window than any rookie in NFL history)

Brand Tebow: Rhinestone Broncos Jersey?

To her credit, my wife -- the original Gator of the family -- is and has always been adamantly against "feminized" jerseys or sports gear.

If it's a cap, she wants the team colors -- not pink or anything else. If it's a jersey, she wants the authentic cut, not some "ladies' cut." (And, again: The usual colors, not... pink.) She won't wear team-logo'd "baby" T's or T-shirts that say "Gator Gal" or some such thing.

When she buys team gear for our friends with young daughters -- newborns, toddlers, kids, whatever -- she refuses to even think of getting them cheerleader outfits; she buys them team gear -- football shirts, basketball shirts, "Gators" logos -- that is authentic-looking as possible.

Her larger message: Fans are fans, no matter what their gender. Wear the real stuff.

And so I haven't even asked her about this "rhinestone collar" Broncos Tebow jersey "for the ladies" because I already know her response: Blech.

If that's your thing, more power to you. I'm trying really hard not to judge.

But when it comes time for me to get my wife a Broncos Tebow jersey -- for Mother's Day or closer to the season opener in Jacksonville -- it's going to be the real deal.

No rhinestones necessary.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Broncos Tebow: April NFL Jersey King

Confirming what we already knew -- and predicted before the draft -- Tim Tebow led all NFL players in jersey sales in April, according to the league.

Let's go back to another earlier prediction that will prove equally reliable: Tim Tebow will become the first rookie to lead the NFL in jersey sales for the entire season.

After today, there is more evidence that he will than that he won't.

UPDATE: In a good point in the Denver Post, Tebow led the league in sales for the month, doing it basically in 8 days.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Broncos Tebow: Elway Approves

"I think we have a great competitor so that gives us hope. It’s gonna take a little bit of time, but I think he’ll battle his way in there and hopefully get in the thick of things quick. […] He’s got the potential, he won at the college ranks, and won the Heisman, so there is talent there, there’s a want there. I think we have a great competitor so that gives us hope."

-- Legendary Broncos QB John Elway, on Tim Tebow, to 9News in Colorado (h/t: Only Gators)

Brand Tebow: A Business Primer

Fanhouse has a good overview of "Brand Tebow" -- I may have coined that first, here.

It's nothing you don't know already, but it underscores that Tebow has catapulted himself into the top tier of athlete marketing forces, whether that includes brands like Nike or EA -- or projects that support Tebow's values.

One detail: We already knew that "XV Enterprises" was the name of his marketing arm, and we've seen him wearing "XV"-marked clothing -- will "XV" become the basis of his Nike logo?

XV is managed by Angel Gonzalez, a longtime friend, and Tebow's brother Robby. This is consistent with the marketing strategy set by another sports superstar, LeBron James.

(BTW: This is totally unrelated to TT, but most of you probably don't ever visit DanShanoff.com, but today I put up a long-ish post about my relationship with my dad and baseball, in homage to a friend's book that just got published today. Feel free to check it out.)

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Broncos Tebow: McDaniels on Mini-Camp

"We've got a long way to go, but we think that if you put a guy with great work ethic together with some people that -- hopefully we know what we're talking about -- maybe we can make something pretty productive out of it."

-- Josh McDaniels, about Tim Tebow, following yesterday's day of mini-camping.

Get more from McDaniels after yesterday's mini-camp practice here, where the focus was the flexibility of McDaniels' offensive philosophy to fit the personnel, supporting the post-draft analysis that McDaniels will build an offense around Tebow's skills, not try to force-fit him into a particular "system." More McDaniels:

If he can do something out of the pocket and he deserves to be on the field — that's the biggest thing — then maybe it would warrant us doing some other things. But he is going to get trained the exact same way the other guys are getting trained. ... He will function from the pocket. That's where he will play.

(By the way, Denver Post columnist Mark Kiszla appears to have figured out that there's some notoriety to be found by being the guy in town who doubts Tebow. The "McShay/Kiper" role, let's call it -- and it really seemed to work out well for them, didn't it? Kiszla's arguments are flimsy, but he will undoubtedly get extra attention for his bearish analysis; they always do.)