GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- It may have been St. Patrick's Day everywhere else, but in this city on Wednesday it was St. Timmy's Day.
|There's no debating Tim Tebow is still a superstar to his faithful fans. It's his mechanics that are in question. (AP)|
This was certainly not a normal Pro Day.
But this is also the only one that had Tim Tebow, who I swear flew into the stadium the way he's treated here. Was it a coincidence that the rain stopped when he showed up? Just wondering.
Tebow's unveiling of his new and improved throwing motion was the talk of the day, but it was the idolatry of the Tebow that owned it.
In between his I'm-later-than-everybody-else entrance and his pulling babies out of the stands to snap pictures with -- true, and no word if there was a $160 charge on the kid's first credit card -- Tebow worked out for the 100 or so scouts and coaches in attendance.
The verdict: He was better than that disastrous performance he put on at the Senior Bowl.
The meaning: Tebow-mania is back in full force.
The reality: It shouldn't change anyone's thinking.
"Yeah, he threw it better," said one NFC scout. "But when you watch the tape he doesn't read the field. They didn't ask him to do that here. He never was forced to do it. That's the important thing. He has to read the field. You can tweak the motion and work the feet, but he just doesn't play instinctive in the pocket. That shows up."
The changes in Tebow's motion were noticeable during a 30-minute throwing session. He held the ball higher. His release was a little more compact. But it wasn't anything drastic. His footwork was improved, which is vital to getting the ball out faster, and he looked comfortable taking snaps from center.
He wasn't as accurate as you would like a quarterback to be, even without a defense, but he made some decent throws. There were several times Tebow completed passes, but receivers had to bend to catch them or twist their bodies to do so. He also reverted to his old throwing habits when he tired a little late in the session, which is not a good sign.
"I made a lot of changes and improved on a lot of things," Tebow said. "For the most part, it felt comfortable and looked comfortable."
Not so fast on the second one. Sitting in the stands -- we weren't allowed on the field as part of Florida's normal paranoid treatment of the media -- I saw a quarterback who still lacked the fluidness you want from the position. At times, you could even hear the fans in the stands questioning his mechanics, which is saying something the way they worship him.
They cheered his first couple of completions wildly, but as the workout went on, and he missed a few deep balls and then threw wide on a couple of other out passes, there seemed to be a sense that maybe Tebow isn't as good as he was in his playing days on that very field.
Not our Timmy, they seemed to be thinking.
At one point, I even joked maybe he should have special eye-black for the day, with special verse. On one side, it would read: Fifth. The other: Round.
"I don't think so," one NFC general manager said. "I still think he has a real shot to go in the third round. He helped himself. He looked sharp. He's got so many things going for him. You can't discount that stuff."
The coaches and scouts in attendance publicly lauded Tebow's changes after the workout.
"You saw he's worked hard on changing some of his techniques," Cleveland Browns president Mike Holmgren said. "I thought he had a pretty good workout."
Somebody asked Holmgren, who worked with Steve Young in college and with the San Francisco 49ers, about a comparison.
"They're both left-handed," he said.
Pressed about the comparison, Holmgren said, "I would steer clear of that comparison. Steve was a very polished passer."
Translation: Tebow isn't close to being in that class -- or will he ever be.
Tebow has spent much of the past month working with former NFL assistant Zeke Bratkowski and others in Nashville working on his throwing delivery. It was evident it worked, but what happens when he gets into a game? Does he go back to his old ways? Does he become less instinctive?
"That's the biggest worry," said the NFC scout. "He isn't instinctive in the pocket reading coverage now. What happens when he has to think about the motion as well?"
Tebow was a special college football player. He won a Heisman Trophy. He helped Florida win two National Championships. He's a good kid. He works hard, which all the scouts and coaches love.
"There's a lot of good about this young man," Holmgren said.
But what's so wrong if he isn't a great NFL quarterback? He's still a rock star in Gainesville. There were signs everywhere inside the stadium Wednesday imploring the local Jacksonville Jaguars to draft him. There were teenage girls and college-aged women swooning over his every move, and mothers wanting their babies in his arms. Tebow is a matinee idol, but all of that means nothing when it comes to playing football.
So I hope they enjoyed St. Timmy's Day in Gainesville Wednesday.
It might be the last year it's celebrated. Has-beens just don't have days like this.
Doubt it? Just ask Danny Wuerffel how his Saintly days are going in Gainesville these days.