By any criterion, Tim Tebow is special. As an athlete, as a person, as a leader. Arguably, the word “special” has never been such an understatement.
By the end of this football season he could have a matching set of Heisman Trophies and have played on three national champion University of Florida teams. He’s also an academic All-American and a fitness fanatic. Plus, he’s clean-cut, good-looking, well-mannered, well-spoken, religious and ripped. He’s a coach’s prototypical spread-option quarterback – as well as every parent’s ideal son and every coed’s consummate crush.
Next year he will be expected to move on to the National Football League and transfer his game and fame to an even bigger stage. It’s what talented college football players do, let alone one who has been referenced among the very best to have ever played the sport.
But here’s hoping he decides otherwise and passes on the NFL. Here’s why.
Scouts will tell you Tebow’s game – in an Urban Meyer offense designed for his unique skill set and size – is less than ideal for the NFL, where they like their players, especially quarterbacks, pigeon-holed. That’s why he won’t be the first quarterback selected in the draft. Pro teams want traditional, pocket-passing, fluid-release quarterbacks – not single wing hybrids like Tebow. So, chances are he won’t make the sort of impact at the next level that he’s made at Florida. Not nearly. In fact, there’s a chance his position will be changed to something much less glamorous.
Moreover, the NFL is as much about pop-culture celebrity and show biz glitz as it is about football. It’s an over-exposed, over-analyzed, over-commercialized product hawked by the Chris Bermans and Keyshawn Johnsons and Jon Grudens. Gator Nation looks almost modest and unassuming by comparison. Almost. The NFL is where the likes of Ray Lewis and Michael Vick will always be in their element.
Tim Tebow deserves better. He would be better off walking away as one of — if not THE — best college player ever. EVER. He doesn’t need the context of agents, network shills and commodity status.
Nor does he need critics constantly reminding fans that the erstwhile Heisman Trophy winner matters so much less at the pro level — and speculating about how long it will be before he turns up on “Dancing With The Stars.” For all of our societal lionizing of celebs, there remains a proclivity, if not perverse delight, among the media in playing a part in reducing heroes to mortal status. Tim Tebow: Heisman bust and tight end/back-up quarterback for the Denver Broncos. It’s all but pre-scripted.
Here’s hoping Tebow bypasses that quite credible scenario-in-waiting and leverages his colossal collegiate fame — in tandem with his unique work ethic and motivation to help the less fortunate – into a not-for-profit foundation. And a life of public service – sooner rather than later. Maybe “honest elected official” doesn’t have to seem like an oxymoron.
Timing is everything. And special people have special destinies. So special they transcend, among other things, the less-than-special arena of pro football.