Tebow’s success puzzles, captivates the NFL universe

Published 12:00 am Saturday, November 19, 2011

After Thursday night’s Denver Broncos win over the New York Jets, I came to work Friday morning ready to write about TebowMania.

But honestly, our circulation manager, Bryan Beauchamp, pretty much did a chunk of my job for me by summing up my feelings and, what I figure, are the feelings of most.

“I don’t know if he’s for real, or if they can keep this up. But I know it’s fun,” he said.


Tebow defies logic in more ways than just his style. For most of last night’s game, the Bronco offense was inept. Punt, after punt, after punt … a formula that almost always lends to a boring game.

But that assumption ignores one thing: in a one-score game, Tim Tebow becomes, as the commercial says, The Most Interesting Man in the World.

Just as fascinating as Tebow’s run over the past five games has been watching the befuddlement of those covering it.

On the NFL Network’s postgame show, the crew interviewed Tebow for almost 12 minutes, pelting him with questions ranging from, paraphrased, “So, how are you pulling this off?” to, “NO, MAN, REALLY, HOW? ARE? YOU? PULLING?! THIS?!? OFF?!?!?!”

This crew of former NFL players and a coach were absolutely perplexed. Tebow might as well have been an alien to them. ALF would have baffled them less.

The obvious point is, Tebow’s success is confusing because nobody has won this way before. In a passing league, one where the rules seemingly change by the day to promote quarterbacks further, Tebow has won a game with just two completions. He just won with a shade over 100 yards passing, one in which he engineered really just one drive to speak of. Has defense played a major role in this? Sure. Then again, Tebow also has accounted for 10 touchdowns and just one interception over his time this season.

The other numbers aren’t as kind to him. 5.6 yards an attempt is hardly flattering, and his 50-percent completion percentage is ghastly. In fact, Tebow is likely the worst ‘passer’ in the NFL, often making the simplest throws seem like advanced trig.

But make no mistake: he’s shown his chops as a leader over this stretch and then some.

When Denver fell 45-10 a few weeks ago to Detroit, weaker men would have folded in the face of what he’d see.

A horrendous performance by one of the most polarizing players to ever enter the NFL — or any sports league — brought all doubters out of the wood work. Media and fans laughed. OTHER PLAYERS laughed — one story in the game’s aftermath highlighted an anonymous Lions’ defender who essentially wrote Tebow off as not just a poor player, but a complete embarrassment, almost a charity case at quarterback.

Another sacked him in the game, then “Tebowed” over his fallen body … Tebowing being the act of performing Tebow’s post touchdown ritual in random places to be photographed.

Through it all, through his coach all but saying he could be benched at any time … he persevered and said to anyone who would listen than he wasn’t a quitter. That he’d work through it. That he’d get better.

It’s the type of thing that wins over a locker room. I don’t think Denver players bought into Tebow, by and large, when he was named starter. I think many likely shared the opinion of the anonymous Detroit defender.

I think those Bronco players are scarce, now. Denver, improbably, is in a virtual deadheat for the AFC West crown going forward.

Can it last? Who knows.

But NFL fans would be more than happy to see the former Florida Gator continue to confuse and amaze.

It makes the league better.

And a whole lot of fun.