If Tim Tebow never plays in the NFL again, his fans loved his career to death.
We knew this day was coming. The rest of us, I mean. Those of us who aren't Tebow fans, even those of us who enjoyed his presence in the NFL the same way we enjoy elephants, clowns and Waldo the two-headed walrus. We knew this would happen. That one day, the squeakiest wheels on the Tebow bandwagon would drive his career right off the cliff.
Congratulations, idiot who petitioned President Obama to force the Jaguars to sign Tebow. You did this.
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Congratulations, attention-seeking Florida lawyer buying air time in the Jags' market to clamor for Tebow. You did this.
But it's not just those two. It's the rest of you. It took millions of you to do this, but I'll be damned -- millions of you did it.
It's the Forbes thing. Every year the magazine surveys the country to determine the most influential person in various spheres, including sports. The most influential person in sports today? In the whole country?
Any idea how many NFL teams -- from the owner to the general manager to the coach to the locker room -- want a backup quarterback who is considered the most influential athlete in the country?
You've done this, Tebow fans. You've loved Tebow's career to death. You're a seventh-grader who calls his girlfriend every hour on the hour just to say, "I love you so much!" Pretty soon the girlfriend's parents put an end to the relationship, because that's just stupid. And you're being a pain in the ass.
What do you know? I stumbled onto a motto for the Tebow fan base:
We're a pain in the ass.
Here's the truth. I had this story on my radar a week ago. I can't prove it to you, but that's a fact. At the time the headline in mind was "Trolling Tebow," because that's what seemed to be happening. An arena football team, stupendously called the Omaha Beef, offered Tebow its quarterback job at $75 a game. A lingerie football league wanted Tebow to do something. Play? Coach? Referee? Not sure. I could look it up, but anything beyond the words "Tebow" and "lingerie league" is just a detail. When a window company in Florida offered him $30,000 to throw footballs at its product -- to prove its windows are hurricane-proof by having Tebow throw at them, or something -- I was sold.Trolling Tebow. That was my story for early this week. But on Saturday, Boston College's courageous Dick Kelley emailed me to say he was ready to talk. And then the Geno Smith story grabbed me by the throat. Which leads to today.
And what do you know? The story has changed from idiots trolling Tebow to even bigger idiots doing exactly what they don't want: making it difficult for Tebow to continue in the NFL -- and impossible in Jacksonville, just down the road from Nease High and the University of Florida, where the Tebow legend started and then flourished.
Last week that other stuff happened. The Omaha Beef. The lingerie league. The window company. Since Saturday, the petition to Obama happened. The commercial begging the Jags to sign Tebow happened. The Forbes survey happened.
Hell, Mike Ditka happened.
Somebody thought it was a good idea to ask Ditka about Tebow, and Ditka said he would play Tebow. This is the guy who once traded an entire draft to pick Ricky Williams, so an endorsement from Ditka means about as much as an endorsement from John Morgan.
Who is John Morgan? Exactly. Point of fact, he's an attorney in Orlando who apparently loves two things: The sound of his voice, and the sound of his voice when it says the words "Tim Tebow." Morgan combined both loves in a ridiculous radio commercial aimed at Jags owner Shahid Khan.
The commercial hit the Jacksonville airwaves Tuesday, just a few days after the WWE ringside announcer -- a WWE Hall of Famer! -- broached the idea of Tebow becoming a professional wrestler.
It's ridiculous, obviously. Somewhere off the coast of Jacksonville swims a shark. Maybe more than one shark. Maybe hundreds. The Tebow story has jumped every last one of them.
Shahid Khan knows this. When the Jags owner was asked this week about Tebow, Khan said he was "fascinated" by the question. Don't misunderstand what he was saying: He's not fascinated by Tebow. He's fascinated by the question. And it is a fascinating question:
Why the absurd demand for Tebow? Why are Tebow's fans loving him right out of the NFL?
Do they see what they're doing?
Do they see what they've done?