Thursday, January 28, 2010

Regarding Tebow: Do You Hate the Player, or Hate the Game?

The Internet is a beautiful place, one where opinions of every stripe can find a voice. You can always find someone willing to claim that the Pope is a child molester. You can always find someone to insist that Barack Obama is a computer-controlled puppet of Osama Bin Laden (and they'll insist that that explains the similar names). And, you can always find someone who's decided that Tim Tebow is an evil, evil man who will receive his comeuppance from the shining, virtuous NFL.

In an era where so many of our athletes are either idiots, morons, assholes, or just lovable poonhounds, we finally have a guy who loves his parents, has a charitable streak wide enough for the entire NBA to drive their Bentleys across, and doesn't appear out to screw anyone figuratively or literally...especially not Hooters waitresses and porn stars.

And he's probably the most despised man in all of football this side of Oakland, California or Washington, DC.

If it was merely a case of "eh, I don't think he'll be all that great in the NFL," that'd be one thing. In this case, it's actually summed up by the title of this Bleacher Report article: "The World Loves Watching Tim Tebow Crying."

Human nature is a major bitch. When we hate our situations in life, we lash out at those who we perceive as "having it better." We wonder, "Why aren't I glorified for being a good parent/spouse/employee when this kid gets cameras in his face all day for throwing a fucking football?"

We ask ourselves, "What do I have to do for someone to say that spending 5 minutes in my company will make you a better person?"

Do I think Tebow's going to be a good NFL player? No, not unless he ends up on some team where he can get the full Aaron Rodgers treatment: park it on the bench for three years, work on your game, soak up wisdom from a future Hall of Fame QB (provided said QB is willing to offer it), and not actually play until truly ready. Problem is, when you're packing a Heisman, a national championship, a slew of SEC passing AND rushing records, and a media presence that dwarfs every other college football player in the past two decades, time to learn is not something that's in large supply.

This isn't the obscure, undrafted-free-agent-out-of-a-small-college Tony Romo getting to toil on the third string for four seasons until he stumbles into the starting lineup. This is Mr. "Thick Polygons and Smooth Flat Planes and Inescapable Corn-Fed Handsomeness" himself.

Invariably, some team (if it's the Jaguars, Tim should just head for the Philippines now, because he'll have more pressure to deal with than Marino, Obama, and Christ put together) will decide that selling tickets for this season is more important than the player's development and try to thrust Tim into the starting lineup long before he's ready. At that point, Tebow will proceed to absorb a mighty ass-kicking. He won't complain a bit, but he may get emotional after a loss. And the envious will eat it up with chopsticks.

And the media will alternately cry about it or simply shrug and say, "We told you so."

The photo to the right, let's be honest, it's funny as shit. I like Tebow probably more than most, simply because I'm refreshed by a guy who isn't slinging guns in clubs or locker rooms, snorting coke or who-knows-what-else, making it rain all over strip clubs, or generally being a complete walking stereotype of the shallow, selfish, greedy, hedonistic jackass athlete.

But the picture's implication that announcers from CBS/FOX/ESPN/any other network that's carried a Florida game the past four years have been greedily slurping up figurative manjuice from Tebow these past four years? Yeah, that's pretty damn accurate. If I didn't carry so much respect for what he's accomplished in college football, I'd probably be pretty annoyed too.

Does he deserve the Thom Brennaman "10 minutes makes you a better person" tongue-bath? Eh, I dunno, I never met the guy. I sincerely doubt it, though. Still, the fact that he's an excellent athlete (and trust me, for ESPN to gush about a white guy's athleticism, he's got to be pretty damn impressive) who doesn't act like a complete douchebag will always score points with me.

I'm far from a religious person, so the verses on the eye black and the constant references to Jesus in the interviews are all lost on me. I've simply enjoyed him as a COLLEGE football player, without fishing for something to bitch about and settling on "Well, he'll suck in the NFL."

Whether I agree on the feasibility of airing a pro-life commercial during the Super Bowl or not (and for the record, I don't; not because of any philosophical favor or disfavor of abortion, I just think it's a bit too heavy for a football game, where all the other ads will be for cars, beer, erectile dysfunction pills, and GoDaddy), if you've read Tebow's story, you can appreciate the unique perspective he carries on the subject.

If your mother drank heavily while pregnant with your younger sibling and said sibling came out with serious mental and physical deficiencies, wouldn't you carry a little perspective on fetal alcohol syndrome? And do you understand why Tim and Pam Tebow might want to appear in this kind of commercial? If you said no to both of those, you have very little to offer this planet. Seriously.

Hating the media's slobberbath of Tim Tebow is perfectly acceptable. I have to roll my eyes at it myself. I place Tebow in my Top 10 list of all-time great college football players, but I don't need it made to sound like he's God's great-nephew. Fair enough. None of this fawning is his fault, though. Dude didn't ask for it, he just lives his life how he wants to, not how "fans" think athletes should, with strippers and strapped posses.

We're all sick of hearing how great he is, but why delight in his current Senior Bowl struggles, or cackle with glee at hearing that he might fall to the third or fourth round of the draft? He'll be the most hyped third-round pick in history, sure, but why be annoyed by it at this point? Simply move on and ponder your team's picks or players from your school or whatever angle usually draws you into the NFL Draft. We all know that it takes a great player, not great hype, to succeed in the NFL.

Difference is, I'm smart enough to separate the hype from the person.

Are you?

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