This one's going to hurt. It's going to hurt you, and it's going to hurt me. It might hurt Urban Meyer. About the only person I'm sure it won't hurt is the person I'm attacking, in a nice way: Tim Tebow. He's almost perfect. He's definitely impervious. So this attack isn't directed at Tim Tebow, girded as he is by a hide of horse and the love of God. It's directed at those who would beatify the man.
Because he's just a man. A good man, sure. A better man than I? There's no question about that. It's possible I'm jealous of Tim Tebow -- a jealousy that goes beyond his athletic ability. The world is full of superior athletes, too many to count, which means I'm over that. Almost everyone I've ever written about, in 20 years in sportswriting, was or is a better athlete. Fine. I'm used to it.
|Tim Tebow is great, yes, but enough with the canonization. (Getty Images)|
What I can't live with is the beatification of the man. Not on the field. And not off it. Not anywhere. It's too much, and before I tell you why, let me puncture a few holes in your arguments. I'm not an SEC-hater. As a kid I grew up in these states: Mississippi, Tennessee and Georgia. Sounds like I might be anti-Gator, huh? Well ... did I mention my alma mater? It's located in Gainesville, Fla. Class of 1992. That's me.
So take this opinion for what it is: It's an opinion. Not a cathartic bias pouring out. Not jealousy or envy or anger that my team, whoever my team is, can't beat Tim Tebow and the Florida Gators. I don't have a team, but if I did, it would be the Florida Gators. Sorry to burst your bubble, but can you now take this opinion at face value? Do your best. Lord knows I am.
Let's start on the field. There is growing momentum that Tim Tebow is the greatest player in college football history. As long as we define our terms, I have no problem with that. By greatest, do we really mean "most accomplished"? If so, fine. Tebow definitely belongs in the conversation among the most accomplished players in college football. To argue otherwise would be ridiculous. The man is in one elite group of players with a Heisman Trophy, and in another elite group with two national championships. The overlap between those elite groups is tiny, and stuck mostly in the 1940s, when it was done by Minnesota's Bruce Smith, Ohio State's Les Horvath, Army teammates Doc Blanchard and Glenn Davis, and Notre Dame's Johnny Lujack and Leon Hart.
Most accomplished player in college football history? Tebow? It's possible, and he still has one more season to play. If he wins a second Heisman or a third national title, the debate would be over. He would be the most accomplished player in college football history. Case closed.
But that doesn't mean he'd be the best.
Hear me out. And hear Shakespeare, too. He's the one who wrote, "Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon them."
Tebow is a mix of all three. He is greatness. He has achieved greatness. But let's be honest: He has had greatness thrust upon him, too. He is in the right place at the right time, playing for perhaps the greatest coach in college football history, Meyer, who has given Tebow the perfect system and the perfect supporting cast, chock full of NFL talent at running back, receiver and -- yes -- defense.
Look at it this way: If Tebow goes to Purdue or Auburn, does he win one Heisman or two national titles? I doubt he wins any of it. But put some of the other great players in college history -- Herschel Walker, Jim Brown, Barry Sanders, Doug Flutie -- at another school, and they're going to achieve the same level of greatness.
I sort of feel I just won that argument. Give me some credit there.
Now then, about Tebow's beatification off the field ...
This one is really going to hurt, because I'm going to attack two institutions that have impressed me greatly over the years: Christianity ... and Urban Meyer. My thoughts on Meyer were made clear a few paragraphs ago (perhaps the greatest coach, etc.). And as for Christianity? Not to get too deep into things, but church has been a huge part of my life over the years. Done the baptism (twice). Done the tithing. Done the small groups and the volunteering and so forth.
But there's a quote from Meyer celebrating Tebow's return to college for his senior season that turns my stomach. Here it comes:
|BradyMania: Actually, this was very well thought and laid out. Gregg, you really did a good job and I wish more of your writing was this enjoyable.|
|Gregg Doyel: Thank you, BradyMania. I actually know what you mean. A lot of times I write from pure fury, and while I believe and stand by every single word of those columns, this was different. This was much more ... rational. Took me time. And I'm curious to see how it goes over. Anyway, thanks again. And I'm resisting the smartass urge to say that "you really did a good job with your message and I wish more of your messages were this enjoyable." You're welcome.|
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"There's the functional football player part of it, but we all know it's much deeper than that," he said. "He is so good for college football. He is unbelievable. When my daughter texts me in the morning the Bible verse he has under his eyes it's good for college football, it's good for young people, it's good for everything."
Sorry. Wrong. If Tebow were a Muslim or a Mormon, and Meyer's daughter texted him with Tebow's chosen verse from the Koran or from the Book of Mormon, would that be "good for college football, good for young people, good for everything?"
Of course not.
Tebow's religion is seen as good because it is the religion of the majority. But it's not the religion of everybody. It's exclusionary, and just because you share Tebow's faith, that doesn't mean you're right. I don't expect you, or Meyer, or Tebow, or your pastor, to agree with me.
But you're still dead wrong.
So forgive me, please, if I'm not ready to anoint Tebow as anything more than a great college football player. He is that. And he's a great young man, too. I'll anoint him that as well.
But the idolatry of Tim Tebow has crossed the line. You ask me, the whole thing is blasphemous.