Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Tebow Tells His Side of Story

This makes a heck of a lot more sense than the notion that Tebow refused to play:
“You work your whole life to build a reputation. Then people try to bring you down when they don’t understand even what happened. It’s disappointing. You just want to express your side of the story... “I  never said, ‘Hey, I don’t want to do anything. I won’t do anything.' That wasn’t the talk at all. He knows that. And everybody on this team knows that I would never not do something if I was asked. That’s what’s disappointing… People saying, ‘Oh, you quit.‘ That was not it at all. It was just me asking to get an opportunity to play the position I love, which is quarterback. It wasn’t me asking out of anything.”
Frankly, I feel foolish for buying into the sensationalized anony-mongering before hearing from Tebow himself. I sure as heck hope that Tebow pushed the case to get the start -- or more than one-yard-plunge Wildcatting -- that is totally fair. 

See the full NY Daily News report here.

Monday, December 24, 2012

On Tim Tebow and (Football) Faith

Reprinted from my other site, Merry Christmas, everyone.

Simply put, Tim Tebow is as team-first as any player you will meet. He is single-minded in his interest in helping his team win. He clearly thinks (and has proven) that the best chance for that is with the ball in his hands, but he has also clearly demonstrated that he is willing to do whatever it takes to help.

There are plenty of people who are tired of (or annoyed with) the "Tebowmania" thing, but that is much more of a function of being annoyed with the media's treatment of Tebow than being annoyed with Tebow himself. If anything, even the haters begrudgingly respect Tebow's complete commitment to winning and to his team. Throughout this season, Tebow has taken any number of relative humiliations -- being assigned as punt protector the most glaring, but simply not being allowed to play the most persistent -- in stride and with a "whatever it takes to help the team win" mentality.

What does it say, then, that Tebow was willing to challenge that very core of his appeal -- that very core of his personality -- by telling the Jets he didn't want to be part of their Wildcat (or faux-Wildcat) inanity this week. He must know he is more popular than the team, and he had to know the Jets would leak his request (or, framed less charitably, refusal) around playing time.

He had to know there would be blowback (with the most common response something akin to how Peter King put it: He totally agrees with Tebow that the Jets have miserably screwed him around, but you can't say you won't play.) He had to know it would instantly become part of the Tebow canon -- the December nadir to bookend the glorious moment in January during the playoffs that would define both his NFL career and Tebowmania in general.

That is how miserable he was. The Jets managed not only to implode their own season, but they made Tebow...flinch. They had him so unhappy that he went against everything he is -- and a sizeable piece of why people believe in him: both off and on the field, his subordination to the greater good... to service.

That is how screwed up the Jets are. So screwed up they could screw up Tim Tebow.

The good news is that the relationship is almost over -- it is a sign of how much the Jets fear Tebow's popularity not just that they didn't play him before, but that when he wouldn't play for them now, they honored it without fuss for days (until it inevitably fussed). Tebow will land with another team -- probably the Jaguars -- one that will hopefully give him a chance.

It cannot possibly go worse in Jacksonville -- or anywhere else -- than it did in New York with the Jets. The Jets had absolutely no belief -- no faith -- in Tebow.

And, it seemed, Tebow eventually lost enough faith in something he believed in -- "team" -- that he would turn away from that concept for seemingly the first time in his life.

Aside from believing in the essential rightness of his own decision in this particular case, I cannot imagine that was anything but difficult for Tebow in the grand scheme of his unyielding belief in always wanting to do what is right for the team.

Faith -- in oneself, in your team (or the larger concept of "team"), in the human condition, in people we admire (yes, like Tebow)... in anything really -- is essential, not just on Christmas but every day.

To see that faith tested in such a stark way -- by someone who epitomizes faith in football (and I'm not even talking about religious faith) -- is a pretty good reminder of the core position of faith in our lives, however it manifests itself. And it is a pretty good reminder how tenuous that faith can be.

If anything, this is a good moment to remind yourself -- to reaffirm, really -- that no matter what it might be, you've always got to maintain a little faith. Especially for those moments when it is tested.

-- Dan

UPDATE: Sounds like Tebow never asked out of playing -- the latest report is that he reiterated to Rex Ryan that he was there, if needed. Would be typical if this entire storyline was conflated from nothing but anonymous sourcing, then turned into insanity. The point stands that this has been a less-than-ideal experience for Tebow this season with the Jets, and you couldn't blame him for being epically disappointed. (The point also stands that, presuming the latest report is true, you're not misplacing your faith by focusing on the larger lessons of Tebow's essential character.)

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Jets Bench Sanchez for... Not Tebow

Capping a lost season for Tebow fans (not to mention Tebow himself), the Jets have benched Mark Sanchez for Tim Tebow Greg McElroy.

The only upside: This almost assures (if not outright assures) that the Jets will deal Tebow in the offseason, hopefully to a team that will actually give him a chance to compete and contribute, rather than turn him into the owner's mantlepiece curio.

Over the weekend, I saw someone (apologies, I forget who) note that both the 49ers and Panthers run  offenses that would mesh with Tebow's strengths if he was the back-up QB and the first-stringer went down. Carolina feels like a good fit -- close to home, playing with a former college teammate. The Jaguars have already indicated their interest in bringing Tebow "home," and the tenuous status of Blaine Gabbert (and new ownership) makes that destination more likely than anything else.

The bottom line is that we re-engage with an exercise we went through in 2010 and 2012 -- one that seems to attract a lot of attention: Where will Tebow end up?

And the Tebow Jets jersey heads into the trunk of Tebow memorabilia....

-- Dan

(How sad is it that I still hold out that Rex Ryan will deploy Tebow in the next two hopeless weeks?)

Monday, December 17, 2012

Today In Tebow: Monday Night + Great Read

There hasn't been a lot of activity on this blog all season, but the biggest reason is that -- as it relates to on-field participation -- there hasn't been a lot of activity from the Jets with Tim Tebow himself.

The season can be summed up as a bill of goods sold -- from preseason promise that Rex Ryan had the moxie to deploy Tebow as creatively as we all think he could (or should) to... what, exactly?

It is a testament to Tebow's team-first mentality that the frustration has only peeked out if you read into some of his quotes over the past few weeks.

And so we tune into tonight's Jets game -- "playoff contention" as a pipe dream -- and hope that this will (finally) be the week that the Jets open things up with Tebow and let him do what he does best.

Rex Ryan doesn't believe. The folks who have leapt off the bandwagon don't believe. But I find it easy to continue to believe that there is productive, winning football there to be had if only the Jets would have the belief to try with Tebow.

Your Tebow read of the weekend was from the New York Times Magazine, "Let My Tebow Go," by Esquire columnist Stephen Marche, who was late to the Tebow bandwagon (like many, he climbed aboard during the Broncos' run this time last year) but remains steadfast.

I know what he's trying to say when he labels the Tebow phenomenon "absurd" -- he doesn't mean silly or stupid; he means reality-defying, and I appreciate the precision of language, up to a point. (Using the word "absurd" -- given the likely misinterpretation -- feels a bit like self-loathing/self-trolling in order to appeal to folks who don't like Tebow or the Tebow phenomenon.)

But much of the essay resonated with me. A lot of the appeal of Tebow -- certainly for the folks who picked up the fandom last year -- is the faith, the belief without evidence: He just gets it done, although I tend to downplay the mystical and emphasize the relentlessness of Tebow's approach.

Anyway, definitely worth a read. Happy holidays!

-- Dan