Wednesday, June 30, 2010

No Tebow Eye-Black Message for EA

The defining visual for Tim Tebow were the Bible verses inked onto his eye-black.

It was a sensation during the 2008 national title game -- which, in turn, contributed as a big reason Tebow chose to return to Florida. Each week of the 2009 season, Tebow's new eye-black would draw instant attention. (Some of us even looked for hidden, football-related sub-texts.)

However, per Kotaku, there will be no Bible message on Tebow's eye-black on the cover of EA's NCAA Football 11. From a marketing standpoint, I understand it. I would also presume that is disappointing to the people who would have liked to see it.

But I can also see Tebow being entirely comfortable with EA's decision -- contrary to a lot of simplistic observation, Tebow has always displayed a sensitivity about imposing his beliefs on folks who wouldn't be interested in them. That extends to video gamers.

(It's not like people -- gamers or otherwise -- don't know about Tebow's well-publicized religious values. And reports like this only underscore that their ubiquity transcends one-time product placement.)

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Brand Tebow: Trading Card Superstar

Today's must-read is a fantastic column by Beckett's Tracy Hackler (writing for ESPN.com), detailing Tim Tebow's relationship with the trading-card industry.

You should read the whole thing, but a couple of things are worth noting:

*His willingness to go above and beyond -- whether for an individual fan or for a card company -- is entirely consistent with everything else you know about him: 100 percent effort always.

*Tebow is a market-mover in the trading-card industry. They were among the first to recognize that and sign Tebow to exclusive deals.

*Tebow gets it: That one extra signature for a kid standing in line is 5 seconds of Tebow's time, but a priceless lifetime possession for the kid.

(We have one Tebow autograph in my house -- I didn't get one from him when we met before the draft. My in-laws saw him at the Outback in Gainesville during his freshman year and got him to sign a menu. Nothing too complicated, although he did sign it "Timmy." It is safely packed away for my kids, for whom my in-laws intended the autograph to go to.)


*There is this one Press Pass card that was making the rounds earlier this spring -- it had Tebow's name, his inscription "06/08 Champs" and "07 Heisman" plus "God Bless." It went for $300 on eBay. At the time, I laughed. Today, I probably wish I had the winning bid. That's a lot of detail on there.

It will be interesting to see what kind of value the cards bring over time. In the meantime, Tebow is on the cover of Beckett's July Football Card Price Guide. And here is a look at the current crop of Tebow cards via Press Pass currently listed on eBay.

Broncos Tebow: "Option Fullback"

I have been as bullish on Tim Tebow's potential to contribute immediately for the Broncos as anyone. This column by Yahoo's Doug Farrar outlines precisely how Tebow could be deployed in red-zone and goal-line situations to create touchdowns by running or throwing -- in Farrar's construction, as an "option fullback." Let's say we could also call that a "dual-threat quarterback."

I will stick with my previous prediction that Tebow accounts for 8-10 TDs as a rookie -- running and throwing. That should be more than enough to qualify him for 2010 NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year (another prediction of mine). But it also discounts Tebow's ability to contribute on any "and-short" downs the Broncos might face, in the red zone or otherwise.

He will be able to materially shift the team's probability of winning games by earning first downs, which extend drives and chew up the clock.

So, OK: "Option Fullback." Sure. But here's my return request for Farrar: Convince the fantasy football honchos to give Tebow QB-RB-TE eligibility next season.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Legend of Tebow: Statue in Gainesville

Here's an easy prediction: The most popular thing to have your picture taken next to in Gainesville will be the "larger than life" statue of Tim Tebow that the school is going to commission.

(They are also creating them for the school's other two Heisman winners, Steve Spurrier and Danny Wuerffel.)

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Tebow on His Fear of Failure

There was a quote from Tim Tebow in the ESPN.com post about his latest round of Broncos camping that totally aligned with my larger theory about last season: That the loss to Alabama in the 2009 SEC Championship Game was even more epic than we had thought.
"I have that in me. The SEC championship loss to Alabama [last December] drives me. That’s with me, more than the national championships or other big wins. The failures stick with you. I don’t want that feeling. Nobody likes that feeling."
That is the first time I had ever seen Tebow mention the loss as either (a) outweighing the championships or (b) outweighing the total Florida experience. I always found Tebow's "relationships not championships" theory to be atomic for him.

It is now obvious that the loss -- not winning that game and that championship -- was even more painful for him than it seemed from his tears on the sidelines as the game ended.

Is it worth positing that the Alabama loss, then, was the defining on-field moment of Tebow's career? Reading into the quote, Tebow might say it was, if only as a reminder of how bad failure feels and how to do everything possible to avoid experiencing it again.


Broncos Tebow: Champ Bailey a Fan

"See that? That’s Tebow. It’s long after practice and he’s still out there. That’s what he does. That’s not for show. He’s not just doing that because the media is here today. He does that every day."

-- Champ Bailey, on new Broncos teammate Tim Tebow. Tebow's work ethic was a theme within Peter King's SI story this week.

Tebow-watchers always knew that there was no player in the league that was going to out-work Tebow -- and it was the fast-track to earning his teammates' respect in the NFL.


Friday, June 11, 2010

Broncos Tebow: Friday Workouts

The most colorful -- and corroborating -- details from Peter King's long story in SI about Tim Tebow's development under Josh McDaniels were about Tebow's obsession with doing whatever it takes to improve. We talked about this before the draft: No player in the NFL will work harder than Tebow, period.

As reports from Broncos practice today filter out -- mostly through the intrepid tweeting of the Palm Beach Post's Ben Volin, out in Denver on assignment, before he leaves the Gator beat full-time for the Dolphins beat -- Tebow is leading the team in practice-ending suicide sprints and taking post-practice snaps with coaches and receivers.

Tebow displays an insatiable appetite to get better. It seems inevitable that he will not just succeed ultimately, but put himself in a position to contribute to the team as a rookie.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Talk Tebow, College Football With Me at 3

So as part of my vacation down to St. Augustine, I will be dropping by the studios of Keith and the Gator Connection at 3 on ESPN 1420 AM in St. Augustine, probably hanging around for an hour. We will be talking about college football expansion, USC sanctions and, obviously, Tim Tebow. Feel free to listen in -- or call! 904-251-4643

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Broncos Tebow: King SI Story

Just got to St. Augustine, with a quick stop in Gainesville (had Burrito Bros, then picked up an extra 2006 football national title T-shirt for $3 at the Gator Sport Shop outside the stadium).

On the drive from Gainesville to St. Augustine, Mrs. Teblog read me Peter King's SI magazine story this week, which went deep behind the scenes with the Broncos, specifically about the learning curve of Tim Tebow.

I'll have a bunch of analysis and quotes from it tomorrow, but it is an absolute must-read for plenty of fly-on-the-wall details about Tebow's development as a QB.

Now, off for a walk on the beach, followed by dinner at Oasis or Cowboys for some sort of fried goodness for dinner -- if you know St. Augustine Beach, you know what I'm talking about.

BTW: There's a good chance I'll be spending some time in studio for the Gator Connection afternoon show on the ESPN radio affiliate here in St. Augustine -- will give you all the details in the morning, because you're encouraged to call in.

Tebow in Denver, Teblog in Florida

For the rest of this week, I will be making a trek down to Florida, with a stop in Gainesville and a stop in St. Augustine. You might almost infer that I'm doing research for the TeBoo-- ... hmm.

Hopefully will be inspired to have some good posts. Really looking forward to the trip down!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Brand Tebow: BroncoGator Mania

There has been a lot of talk about the "BroncoGator" phenomenon, by Broncos fans and Gator fans alike (in addition to other fans around the country, who are just mocking the whole thing).

Let me clarify my own position on this:

*I absolutely count myself as one of those people who began rooting for the Broncos the moment they drafted Tim Tebow. I would have rooted for any other team that drafted Tim Tebow. I will root for whatever NFL team Tebow plays for.

*I see no shame in this, in large part because I recognize and acknowledge the shamelessness. I think that most Gator fans developed an instant partisanship for Tebow's NFL team.

*This new fandom is entirely sincere -- Gator fans-turned-Broncos fans want nothing more than to see Tebow wildly succeed, which will translate into the Broncos succeeding.

*No Gator-turned-Broncos fan would ever claim that our fandom is as "strong" or "deep" or "real" as a long-time (ie, pre-Tebow) Broncos fan.

As an aside, let's all remember that even the most "die-hard" Broncos fan came to that allegiance arbitrarily: Born in Colorado, parents were Broncos fans, college admissions or new job brought you to Broncos Country, really liked Elway, spouse is a Broncos fan.

The upshot: Rooting for the Broncos for Tim Tebow's presence is hardly less arbitrary than those "classic" rooting roots. But again: Happy to defer to you, Broncos lifer, as the "better" fan, if that makes you feel better.

*Most Broncos fans I have talked with were happy to have the Gator fans on board. They recognize that expanding Broncos Country into Florida makes the Broncos more of a "national" football brand, which is good for their team.

*All that said: Yes, that "BroncoGator" logo is kind of a travesty. Why do we need to conflate the two rooting interests?

There is Gator fandom, which transcends whoever is QB of the team. And then there is Broncos fandom, which is entirely dependent on a certain QB being on the team.

I see no reason to flaunt that connection like some sort of weird hybrid animal, like we are on the Island of Dr. Moreau.

The point is this: The "BroncoGator" logo is, unintentionally, a farce -- creating a mockery of Gator fans-turned-Broncos fans far more than it is honoring them.

Here's the deal: Gator fans will root for the Broncos. Some of us might even buy Tebow Broncos jerseys -- and why wouldn't we?

And we can happily co-exist with tried-and-true Broncos fans -- just like we happily co-existed with all of the Tebow fans across the country who found themselves rooting for the Gators the past four years.

-- D.S.

Broncos Tebow: Monday Camping

Tim Tebow's practice session with the Broncos on Monday was boring, apparently. And what a good thing that is.

Early June isn't for figuring out how to freelance on broken plays -- certainly not for rookie QBs. It is for figuring out the fundamentals. It isn't exciting. It isn't telegenic. It is entirely effective.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Broncos Tebow: Coach Ben, via SI's King

SI's Peter King is in South Africa for the World Cup, but that doesn't stop him from filing his "MMQB" column this week with Tim Tebow as the lead item -- specifically about Josh McDaniels having his brother Ben as the Broncos' QB coach.

It is not an insignficant role, given the premium placed on Tebow's development this season.

Sounds like there will be a larger story in SI from King about the Broncos -- presumably, it centers around the future with Tebow -- but pay very very close attention to King's kicker at the end of the item:

"I have a feeling Tebow will get a real chance to win the job this year, and whether he wins or loses, he will have some red-zone and short-yardage chances. Early and often."

Again, this affirms what we've been saying around here. Tebow will get a ton of chances in critical (read: short-yardage and red-zone) situations. And by "early," I think that indicates that Tebow will get touches in Week 1 at Jacksonville. How could he not?

Friday, June 4, 2010

Broncos Tebow: 3rd String, Officially

Tim Tebow is officially "QB3" on the Broncos, after the team released Tom Brandstater. Tebow had taken snaps at the last mini-camp as the No. 3 QB, so this was hardly a surprise.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Broncos Tebow: The Folly of Kiszla

At this point, Denver Post designated "anti-Tebow" columnist Mark Kiszla can't possibly believe what he is writing -- if he ever did. It's all a big piece of satire, right?

Today's column -- linking Tim Tebow to the NBA Finals by comparing him, negatively, to Kobe Bryant -- is so off-the-mark as to be pretty close to needing a formal correction in the paper.

To suggest Tebow lacks Kobe's killer instinct? It is like Kiszla has never watched Tebow play a game at Florida.

For Kiszla to link Tebow's faith or off-field behavior to a soft, anti-competitive nature is condescending and, worse, intellectually lazy.

Even Tebow's least-biggest fans among college football pundits, experts and fans will agree that he is the most competitive player to ever play college football.

Let's go back to my favorite Tebow play ever: The unsportsmanlike-conduct penalty against Oklahoma in the 2008 national championship game, where Tebow got up from a game-sealing play (one of many) and threw the Gator Chomp in Nic Harris' face.

It was so seemingly out-of-character, yet totally humanizing and entirely affirmative of Tebow's ultimate competitiveness.

If I was writing a column about the work ethic of sports columnists, I might make a broad-based generalization that Kiszla is lazy, while other, more competitive columnists actually do legwork.

Apparently, Kiszla is way too focused on building a "brand" as The Anti-Tebow Guy. The more he writes, the more cynical the attempt is revealed to be.

I couldn't care less if sports media folks want to critique Tebow -- go back into the Teblog archives to the days following the Mississippi State game. Is it too much to ask to see something smart?

Consider this my unsportsmanlike Gator Chomp in Kiszla's direction.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Broncos Tebow: Greg Cosell Not a Fan

Suffice to say, NFL Matchup creator and producer Greg Cosell isn't a big Tim Tebow fan.

Cosell's main complaints about Tebow -- arm strength, looping delivery, timing, footwork -- are well-trod territory. Frankly, it was pretty pedestrian analysis back in January, let alone offered up in June.

You would hope someone with Cosell's nuanced understanding of the NFL would dig a little deeper than the same analysis I'd get from a random lug sitting on a barstool.

Here are a few things I'd love to hear from Cosell:

*What does he think of Tebow's progress and development since college? Does Tebow's steep development curve -- as every NFL rookie QB has had to follow -- indicate anything?

*What does he think of the idea of coaches creating offensive innovations that undermine NFL orthodoxy and build on a QB's strengths?

Given that NFL Matchup can't find a sponsor and could very well be canceled, I will resist the temptation to drop in a cheap joke riffing on Cosell's opinion, like: "On film, there is very little in NFL Matchup's offerings that translates well at this point to generating enough of a TV audience to survive as a show."

See, that's unfair: I enjoy NFL Matchup a lot. It is smart. It doesn't talk down to viewers. In Cosell's own words, it has what you might call questionable TV mechanics, delivery and timing that doesn't show the kind of characteristics demanded of in today's TV landscape.

Let's hope that it finds a sponsor and a good time slot. I want NFL Matchup to be on the air to break down the Xs and Os when Tebow succeeds in the Broncos offense.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Broncos Tebow: Looking Ahead to 2011

The Broncos are trying to figure out whether Kyle Orton or Brady Quinn will be the starting QB for Week 1 of the 2010 season. For next year, however, it seems pretty obvious:

"It will be a shock if Tebow is not the opening-day starter in 2011."

That is ESPN.com's Broncos specialist Bill Williamson, on Denver's long-term QB strategy.

However, I find the sentence before that one to be the most telling:

"The Broncos want Tebow to play as soon as he is ready."

I think that extends beyond starting as soon as he is ready -- as opposed to playing as soon as he is ready. By the way, starting could come as early as this season, which should surprise no one except the bearish draft "experts."

But playing could include Tebow's participation in short-yardage situations, whether that is an "and-short" down or something inside the 20-yard-line ("red zone") or 10-yard-line ("Tebow zone.")

Oh, I like that: Inside the 10-yard-line as "the Tebow Zone." At least as it relates to the Broncos offense in 2010.

All signs point to Josh McDaniels using Tim Tebow as soon as possible.

Now, that doesn't necessarily mean as a starting QB. But I would be shocked if that didn't include some snaps at QB, regularly, as early as Week 1.

Slow Week on the Tebow Beat?

Having run this site at a break-neck pace since last July (and even earlier than that), the past week has been -- by far -- the slowest news cycle for all things related to Tim Tebow since... oh... probably the summer before his freshman year at Florida. On the plus side, I'm taking a visit down to Gainesville next week.

No worries: I will have more on the blog throughout this week.

For example: Chalk it up to yet another "#timtebowcant" pronouncement. In a list of the Top 20 rookies to watch for in fantasy football coming up next season, Tebow doesn't even crack Yahoo's expert list. That seems silly; Josh McDaniels will give Tebow plenty of chances inside the 10-yard-line, starting with the season-opener at Jacksonville. You all know my projection: Next season, Tebow will account for at least 7 TDs, passing or running.

See: Everything can be Tebow-related.