Evanson: Honestly, what's wrong with Tim Tebow?
Tim Tebow isn't the problem, it's people's problem with him that's problematic.
To be clear, I'm not a Tebow fan. He was a good college quarterback and a great leader, on a very good college football team. But while I never rooted for the Florida Gators, have never owned a Tebow jersey, and admittedly laughed at his six-game win streak during the 2011 Denver Broncos season, the 33-year-old icon should be lauded far more than critiqued for what has been nothing less than an admirable life and athletic career.
A week ago, Tebow's ex-college coach, Urban Meyer, opened the door to a Tebow return to the NFL. The historic collegiate coach, who will be making his NFL coaching debut this season with the Jacksonville Jaguars, agreed to give Tebow a tryout prior to last week's mini-camp.
The former NFL quarterback ran through drills, not as a QB, but rather as a tight end, and now, we await the verdict as to whether the former Heisman Trophy winner will get an opportunity to return to the league that has more than once kicked him to the curb.
Denver traded him after one season, the Jets cut him after another, and the Patriots and Eagles sent him packing prior to the subsequent seasons. From there, he worked as a broadcaster for ESPN, co-hosted Good Morning America, and spent the past four-plus years trying to make it in professional baseball, where he worked his way up to the New York Mets' Triple-A affiliate before calling it quits this past February.
He's a devout Christian who famously waited until marriage in 2020 to — well, you know — and has headed numerous philanthropic endeavors since his time in college, most recently accepting, on behalf of his nonprofit, the Tim Tebow Foundation, $1.2 million in grant money from the state of Tennessee to help with sex-trafficking survivor care.
He's a hard worker, by all accounts a good guy, and aside from being a subpar professional athlete, a professional athlete nonetheless.
So, why do people hate this guy so much?
When his pending tryout with Jacksonville was announced last week, you'd have thought that O.J. Simpson had just been awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor.
Talking heads couldn't damn the move quick enough, ex-players bristled, and former league executives called it professional suicide for Meyer to make such a move in his NFL coaching debut.
"He's taking another potential player's spot," people said.
"It's professional nepotism," they added.
And former New York Jets general manager Mike Tannenbaum stated, "If Tim Tebow is on the opening day roster, it will eviscerate Urban Meyer's credibility." This from the guy who remains a punchline for his six-year tenure with the Jets.
In a way, I get it. Jealousy is not an uncommon thing, and it's long been noted that in this country we live not for building one up, but rather tearing them down in the wake of their success.
Tim Tebow has it all, right? Fame, fortune, good looks, a supermodel wife. He's the girl all of your female high school friends talked poo about behind her back, only to secretly want everything she had in a private moment or 20 throughout a typical teenage day. But that's adolescence, and Tebow and the pundits taking shots at him are adults — things are supposed to be different.
It's OK not to like Tim Tebow, but you have to respect him. He knows what he wants and goes after it with little if any fear of failure. To our knowledge, he doesn't do drugs, doesn't beat women or children, hasn't broken the law, and lives life according to virtues — despite your beliefs — few could sanely argue against. He's not perfect, and in fact has failed as a professional far more than he's succeeded. Yet, rather than celebrate both his success and his reaction to failure, people admonish him for doing what most teach their kids the importance of from day one: trying.
There are countless examples of athletes who've wasted their opportunity or cheated their ability due to a lack of effort. They've made lots of money and built reputations based solely on fame ultimately gifted to them by the talent they inherited. Is that noble? Should we celebrate that? Or are we better served by honoring and applauding discipline, hard work and fortitude? The answer seems easy, or at least it should be.
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