Tim Tebow's Wild Ride

Nov. 28, 2011
Nov. 28, 2011

Table of Contents
Nov. 28, 2011

  • If this was indeed David Beckham's final game in MLS, he went out in style, carrying the Galaxy to a championship and affirming the value of star power in America

  • Our sports have become more and more about money and marketing. But to most of us they're still about the stories we tell one another, the transcendent moments that lift us—the very way we define ourselves

Photo Credits: Tim Rasmussen/Getty Images

Tim Tebow's Wild Ride

Love him. Doubt him. Praise him. Ridicule him. Gape in awe. As the last two months have shown, there are 300 million opinions of the Broncos' quarterback, and every one of them is right

Oct. 9: With Denver trailing the Chargers 23--10 at halftime at Invesco Field at Mile High, Tim Tebow relieves an ineffective Kyle Orton and leads two fourth-quarter touchdown drives. But his last-second Hail Mary falls short, and the Broncos lose 29--24. Tebow's line: 4 of 10, 79 yards, 1 TD; 6 carries, 38 yards, 1 TD. Denver's record: 1--4, fourth in AFC West.

This is an article from the Nov. 28, 2011 issue

Norv Turner, Chargers coach: "That guy, particularly when you first see [him], gets you back on your heels a little bit."

John Fox, Broncos coach: "Tim Tebow sparked the team today. So, I think at this point—we have a bye week—we do need to improve offensively, and it will all be up for discussion."

USA Today, Oct. 21: "When the Broncos play the Dolphins, a nation will be watching. Tebow Nation. For months, they have chanted Tim Tebow's name during Broncos games, ranted online, even demanded on billboards that he be the starting quarterback. Tebow's fans will get what they want Sunday, turning a game between two reeling teams into a marquee matchup."

Tony Dungy, NBC Football Night in America: "I just think winners win. And guys who won all the way through high school and college, the best player at every level, they have a way of making things happen and winning games."

Fox, on the intense national interest in Tebow: "He's a role model, so I get it. But we're in professional football, and he's going to have to perform."

Tebow: "I've said this before, but I never thought I was a finished product. I never said I was. I never believed I was. I'm going to work every day as hard as I can, one game at a time, one day at a time."

Brian Billick, NFL Network analyst: "Are his talents so unique, so special, that he's truly that one guy that can win a championship outside of the normal skill set that it takes to win a championship? I've never seen anybody win with those types of mechanics in the NFL. It doesn't mean he can't do it."

Orlando Franklin, Broncos tackle: "All the fans know it, his teammates know it: He brings a little bit more to the huddle."

John Elway, Denver's executive vice president of football operations: "Timmy's intangibles are why he has been as successful as he's been—his will to win and his competitiveness, his toughness and the things that he can do. We think Timmy can come in and do it."

Matt Taibbi, Rolling Stone: "Before he even set foot on an NFL field, it was football gospel that the beatific Gator was a 'great competitor' with 'great intangibles' who was a 'born leader,' breathless descriptions ... that carried with them one powerful underlying message: Tebow sucks."

Oct. 23: Playing in front of his former Florida coach, Urban Meyer, in the stadium where he won the 2008 national championship, Tebow throws two touchdown passes in the final 2:44 at Miami and runs in the two-point conversion with 17 seconds remaining to tie the Dolphins at 15. The Broncos win with a field goal in overtime. Tebow's line: 13 of 27, 161 yards, 2 TDs; 9 carries, 59 yards. Denver's record: 2--4, fourth in AFC West.

The New York Times, Oct. 23: "For 55 minutes, Tim Tebow had barely looked like a functioning NFL quarterback. He took sacks and threw poorly. He was hesitant and overwhelmed. The Broncos' coaching staff had so little confidence in him that through three quarters, he attempted just eight passes. But with five minutes left and the Dolphins playing prevent defense, Tebow turned into the player who inspires fans to erect billboards and opposing teams to honor him when he visits... ."

Fox, explaining the unlikely comeback with a nod to Hall of Famer Elway: "There's competitive greatness. Not everybody that plays in this league has it. It's a great quality to have. We have a guy—number 7, that I work with every day—he had it. He definitely had it."

Jason Hunter, Broncos defensive end: "Tebow's amazing, man. Tebow is an amazing player. He's a playmaker. He won. We support him."

@jdawgnorris98:@TimTebow "I'm Tebowing while Chemoing! Im a cncr srvivr whos trsting u wth his fntsy team. hope your not getting anoyed"

Oct. 30: Detroit sacks Tebow seven times and romps 45--10 at Invesco. Tebow's line: 18 of 39, 172 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT; 10 carries, 63 yards. Denver's record: 2--5, fourth in AFC West.

The New York Times: "The Lions even mocked the 'Tebowing' prayer pose that became an Internet phenomenon last week, in the wake of Denver's comeback from a 15-point deficit against the Miami Dolphins."

Unnamed Detroit defensive player, to Yahoo! Sports: "We were like, 'Come on, that's your quarterback? Seriously?'"

Mark Kiszla, The Denver Post: "So maybe we need a new definition for Tebowing. It's a prayer for mercy. Please, in the name of heaven, bring us somebody who can actually play quarterback... . Those five minutes of wonder against Miami now look like an aberration. Right here, right now, Tebow is the worst quarterback in the NFL."

Billick: "We're increasingly seeing what Tim Tebow is about. It was against a good pro defense. Where I question Tebow's style of play—the spread, run the ball along with throwing the ball—can you be productive? To a degree, against lesser teams, you can. Can you win in this league? Can you sustain it against good teams? No."

Taibbi, Rolling Stone: "When Tebow [turned] in one of the worst performances in the history of quarterbacking, there was something perversely satisfying about the spectacle. Witnessing the Tebowmania phenomenon get pulverized under a torrent of ruthless hits ... was a little like reliving Clarence Darrow's savage cross-examination of William Jennings Bryan at the Scopes Monkey Trial. In both cases you came away feeling sorry for the defeated, but it was just something that had to be done."

Fox, asked if Tebow is still his starting quarterback: "For this week, yes."

Tebow, on the relentless scrutiny: "You're walking by, you hear it. It's everywhere. You just can't pay attention to it because if I let what people say about me run my life, I'd be living a roller coaster, and thank the Lord I don't have to do that."

Michael Strahan, NFL on Fox: "There's only so much you can change in an offense. All of a sudden they have a new quarterback, and everyone is yelling to change everything for him. How many players are going to accept that?"

israelshgz, rated most-liked on the Occupy Tebow thread that launched more than 10,000 comments: "Knock knock? ... Who's there? ... Doesn't matter, it's > Tebow"

Nov. 6: Tebow and running back Willis McGahee combine for 281 rushing yards and Eddie Royal runs back a punt 85 yards for a touchdown in a 38--24 victory over the Raiders in Oakland. Tebow's line: 10 of 21, 124 yards, 2 TDs; 13 carries, 118 yards. Denver's record: 3--5, fourth in AFC West.

Woody Paige, The Denver Post: "The Broncos unveiled yet one more addition to the Tim Tebow Collection—a razzle-dazzle, spread-stretch, gator-bait, whup-'em good, Oklahoma old-school option offense... . Fox credited his offensive assistants for the game plan. He also could have credited Pop Warner, who conceived of the single wing more than a hundred years a years ago."

Tommy Kelly, Raiders defensive tackle: "They running that college s---, that zone s---, quarterback's gonna hold it s---. Man, we practiced that s--- all week."

McGahee, who had 163 yards against Oakland: "Tebow got the ball in his hands, and he's dangerous. When I have the ball in my hands, I can be dangerous too. We have a [two-man threat] as far as running the ball. Tebow is doing a great job."

Sporting News poll of 111 players, asking, Who's the most overrated in the NFL: "Tim Tebow."

Fox: "A big part of coaching is putting your players in a position to succeed. There is this perception that we're afraid to have Tim throw the ball. That's not true. We're just playing to his strengths and adapting the offense to give ourselves the best chance to win."

Tebow: "Honestly, I put more pressure on myself than anybody else. To try to improve and ultimately get a victory no matter how it looks. That was a special one."

Nov. 13: Tebow completes just two passes, but one is a 56-yard touchdown to wideout Eric Decker, in a 17--10 victory at Kansas City. Tebow also runs for a seven-yard score. The Broncos' 55 rushing attempts are the most by a Denver team since 1978. Tebow's line: 2 of 8, 69 yards, 1 TD; 9 carries, 43 yards, 1 TD. Denver's record: 4--5, tied for second in AFC West.

Dave Krieger, The Denver Post: "Pull the cover off that 1957 Bel Air convertible and take it for a spin. The Broncos are living in the past and loving it... . [Tebow] looks like a kid at an amusement park these days. It's all good. The roller coaster? Awesome. The Ferris wheel? Fantastic. Cotton candy? Are you kidding?"

Broncos public relations: "Since 2000, teams are 223--19 (.921) with 30+ rushes and 20 or fewer passes. Since the 1970 NFL merger, teams are 30--2 (.938) with 50+ rushes and 10 or fewer passes."

Royal: "Of course we like catching balls. But we like winning even more."

Kiszla, The Denver Post: "Every pass completion by Tebow is as rare, and as carefully guarded, as the Hope Diamond. The Broncos now treat the pass like a vitamin. If it's a powerful one, all you need is one a day. And the 56-yard strike that Tebow threw to Eric Decker to clinch the victory in the fourth quarter was absolutely a thing of perfect beauty."

Von Miller, Broncos rookie linebacker: "Tim Tebow? I'm buying. He's the greatest thing out there. I think he's shut up some critics. You can't get a bad comment from me about Tim Tebow. I love him."

Broncos public relations: "Tebow is the first Broncos quarterback to defeat the Raiders and Chiefs on the road in back-to-back games."

Fox: "I'm probably the biggest Tim Tebow fan in the world. Why? That's pretty simple. We started the year 1--4, now we're 4--5 and have a chance to make the playoffs. This game is only fun when you're winning."


Lance Ball, Broncos running back: "Everybody always says you win football games by playing defense and running the ball, and that's what we're doing now. I don't see why people want to make it into a negative."

Mike McCoy, Broncos offensive coordinator: "I take 'winning ugly' as a compliment. The most important part of that term is winning."

Nov. 17: Tebow completes just 6 of 15 passes for 69 yards through the first 54 minutes against the visiting Jets. Denver trails 13--10, scoring on an André Goodman interception of Mark Sanchez and a 37-yard field goal.

@KerryRhodes: "Boy Tebow can not throw. He has people open all over field. I love him but geez."

@ReillyRick: "John Elway watching Tim Tebow play quarterback is like Michael Jackson watching Chaz Bono dance."

@DarrenRovell: "Is Tim Tebow eligible for 1 of those Dr. Pepper halftime throwing contests?"

Nov. 17: With 5:54 remaining, Tebow takes over at the Broncos' five. He completes 3 of 5 passes and rushes six times for 57 yards, including a 20-yard touchdown with less than a minute to play for a 17--13 win. Tebow's line: 9 of 20, 104 yards, 0 TDs, 0 INTs; 8 carries, 68 yards, 1 TD. Denver's record: 5--5, second in AFC West.



@MarcellusWiley: "Revis ain't bored now, is he!"

Darrelle Revis, Jets cornerback: "This is crazy... . The only thing I can say is [Tebow] ran the offense the best way he could. He did it. Tim Tebow did it. He shocked me. Probably shocked a lot of people. But he did it." CHOSEN RUN

Decker: "We knew if we wanted to make this year special, it all starts on this drive."

Royal: "There's something special going on here. We really believe in each other. We're playing together as a team and a family. I looked around the huddle that last drive, there was no fear in anybody's eyes. Especially not the quarterback's... . I don't know what to say about that kid. For him to lead us 95 yards like that, it tells you everything you need to know about him as a football player, as a competitor, as a man."

Tebow: "I don't know if I necessarily feel the stress. I guess I feel a burden, you know? This is an opportunity—let's go get this done, let's make something special happen. I put that pressure on myself to try to make something happen. Ultimately, that's the best part of being a quarterback. That's why I've wanted to be a quarterback since I was six years old, watching guys like John Elway and Steve Young have game-winning drives."

Fox: "He never lays his sword down. He'll fight you to death. That's just his nature."

Tebow: "I was just trying to execute the offense, which I've got to get better at and do it more consistently for 60 minutes. That will start tomorrow."

Mike Klis, The Denver Post: "All the critics are right when they say Tebow can't pass accurately, can't read defenses all that well, can't operate a conventional offense. And in the end, all the critics are wrong. Tebow is magical. Tebow is a winner. Tebow is the one and only."

Ball: "Tebow this, Tebow that... . You know what? Tim Tebow is great for football, man. Love him or hate him, everybody has an opinion. And I'm pretty sure we're gonna be talking about him for a really long time."