Scott Boehm/Getty Images
Looking For A Spot: Quarterback Tim Tebow performs the long jump at the NFL Scouting Combine. It remains to be seen where — or if — Tebow might land in the big leagues.
Looking For A Spot: Quarterback Tim Tebow performs the long jump at the NFL Scouting Combine. It remains to be seen where — or if — Tebow might land in the big leagues. Scott Boehm/Getty Images
Come up here, please, to the presidential suite and give a big NPR welcome to Tim Tebow, proclaimed by many the greatest college football player ever and now ready for the NFL draft. Heisman Trophy winner; the hero who steered Florida to two national championships; bright; strong; a natural leader.
Now, if you'll come downstairs here, in that bunch of wannabes crowded over by the Murphy bed, give a nod to Tim Tebow, the quarterback with the strange throwing motion; religious fundamentalist; lightning-rod misfit and obvious classic example of the Peter Principle, pro football version.
Yes, the intrigue in the NFL draft, which begins Thursday and lasts longer than your average Icelandic volcanic eruption, this year centers not on the top of the draft, which will surely be led by a conventional quarterback, Sam Bradford of Oklahoma, but on Tebow — who will certifiably not be drafted anywhere in the first round and might not even be drafted at all.
It's like having a presidential election with most of the attention going to a congressional race in Montana.
When Jerry Jones, the sociable Dallas Cowboys owner, was caught surreptitiously on camera bloviating at a bar the other evening, his entire discussion of the draft revolved around whom the Cowboys did not want: Tim Tebow.
Everybody is an expert on Tebow — and the expert consensus is that he is a collegiate hybrid who will be exposed in the big time.
The quarterback, born sickly in the Philippines to missionaries, is one of those people who are not themselves controversial but always seem to get caught up in the middle of stuff. Even back in high school, when he was educated at home, he was one of the more publicized cases in the dispute about whether home-schooled students should be allowed to play on public-school teams.
When concussions became big news, he got a big concussion.
When he starred in a pro-life commercial with his mother, otherwise sensible adversaries wanted to temporarily void the First Amendment to prevent the commercial's airing during the Super Bowl.
Tebow's coach, Urban Meyer, a man who has admitted the pressure might be getting to him, proved it recently by publicly upbraiding a sportswriter for correctly quoting a teammate who had dared say that, by comparison, Tebow might not be "a real quarterback."
That, you see, is the crux of the issue. Sure, Tebow may be the greatest college player ever, but he just doesn't do things the approved NFL way.
Has any team even got the guts to draft him and answer to the nerds who measure football talents like phrenologists used to measure character by the shape of the skull?
Me, I'm certainly no football scout, but I rather like players who win. I wouldn't mind having Tebow on the bench when the starting quarterback gets hurt and he has to go in and begin calling plays and doing things his way. Yeah, I think I'd like my chances with Tim Tebow.