The Tim Tebow phenomenon finally has reached its concluding point for the 2011-2012 NFL season. “Tebowmania” as the analysts call it, is finally over.
After Tebow and his Denver Broncos were eliminated from the playoffs by the New England Patriots in a thrashing 45-10 loss, there was nothing else to talk about regarding the quarterback from Florida. For now, the sporting world has other things to pay attention to. There are only 3 more football games to be played, one that will crown a new champion. For a few weeks, the name “Tebow” won’t need to be flushed out of our ears like wax.
It was impossible to ignore talk of Tebow for sport fans since October no matter how poorly he performed. Tebow was far from successful passing the ball throughout the year. He was the only starting quarterback in the NFL to complete less than half the passes he attempted in 2011 and averaged the lowest yards passing per game with 124. Still, they couldn’t stop bringing up the story of the underdog.
He was deemed a “winner” for the Broncos turnaround and playoff run. The Broncos 7-4 record with Tebow as the starter that lead them to a divisional title. When the Broncos upset the 2 Pittsburgh Steelers in the playoffs, ESPN made reference to Tebow a staggering 160 times through a 48 minute program of sport highlights the next day. That comes out to 1 Tebow reference every 18 seconds.
Has nobody else ever started games as a quarterback resulting in wins? Surely other quarterbacks with little experience have done well in the NFL right?
Cue Mark Sanchez, the New York Jets 3rd year quarterback who is currently in turmoil with fans and even teammates who want him replaced. Sanchez’s success through his first two years was similar, yet more impressive in other ways.
Sanchez was the team’s starting quarterback in his rookie season and also maintained a positive record, 9-7 on the season. In the playoffs, Sanchez won 2 road playoff games, advancing to the AFC Championship game, only the 4th time in league history a rookie had done that. Tebow started only three games in his rookie season and lost two of them.
In his second season, Sanchez put up an 11-5 record as a starter. His team once again won 2 playoff games, advancing for the second consecutive season to a championship game. That left Sanchez with 4 playoff victories in his first two seasons. Tebow could only claim one for his team.
Like Tebow, Sanchez relied on his teammates to win games. The Jets defense was ranked among the leauge’s best in his first two seasons and offensively, they ran the ball as well as any team in the league. The Broncos of 2011 were very similar to the Jets in this mold, struggling in the passing game but holding the opposition to little points so that the running game could take over. But Sanchez was more successful. His completion percentage was 9% better than Tebow and he was never at the bottom of the yards per game stat.
So why was Tebow viewed as a hero while Sanchez was viewed as the thing holding the team back? They both won games so why does Tebow have a music video and song about him while Sanchez was bombarded with critics, some even saying he was a mistake of a draft pick?
It partially had to do with Tebow starting his first games later in the season and winning while Sanchez who started from day 1. It’s easier to say a quarterback is a winner when his team prior to starting him was losing. Sanchez was never in such a case with the Jets, missing only one game since 2009 after suffering an injury.
The other factor is Tebow’s history. The quarterback was one of the most legendary players in collegiate football history, shattering records with the Florida Gators. His popularity carried over to the NFL. Tie in the fact he is well documented for his religious beliefs and kindness and Tebow has won over a lot of fans. People want to see the good guy do well and that’s just what Tebow is.
That’s not to say Sanchez isn’t a good guy. He donates money to charity and could be a fantastic guy. It’s just, his stories are less likely to be showcased on SportsCenter for a half hour a day. Tebow’s would and they have.
Should factors outside of football help determine who deserves the hype and who doesn’t? Should labels be given for players on field performance be given based on their background and their story? Should someone with a lower winning percentage be placed on a pedastool while another is basically vilified because his expectations were higher?
Football is a team sport and that’s why labeling Tebow as a “winner” over others when he contributes less is ridiculous. His 7 fourth quarter comebacks this year tell less of how fantastic he is in the 4th quarter than it does how hard it is for a team to have a lead in a game when your quarterback cannot move the ball downfield for the first 3 quarters. Quarterbacks in this league have won games and haven’t been hyped for winning like Tebow has. It’s time to evaluate Tebow for what he is instead of hyping him up for the person he is outside the league and in his daily actions.
Being a winner off the field doesn’t make Tebow more of a winner on the field than the other quarterbacks he gets the credit over.