Tebow is a hard worker and a natural leader, so what's not to like?

by | Senior NFL Columnist

I don't care what happens to the New England Patriots, but I do care what happens to Tim Tebow. I hope he makes it. In fact, I hope he makes it big.

Not because he's Tim Tebow but because he's every guy who's been told he's not big enough or fast enough or smart enough or simply good enough to play in the NFL. For most of the past two years we've heard that Tebow doesn't have the arm ... or the feet ... or the smarts ... or the paint-by-number mechanics ... that anyone who calls himself a quarterback should.

Translation: There's no place for him in the NFL. Except he already proved there is.

Go back two seasons to when he quarterbacked the Denver Broncos. Former quarterback Boomer Esiason said he "can't play," while ESPN analyst Merril Hoge called him "as phony as a three-dollar bill." They were certain Tebow would fail ... only they were wrong. He took Denver to its first division championship in six years.

It's not just that he won eight of 13 starts (including the playoffs); it's how he did it, pulling out improbable last-minute victories when logic said it couldn't happen. But logic had nothing to do with that season, with Tebow upsetting the defending AFC champion Pittsburgh Steelers -- Hoge's former team -- in the wild-card round of the playoffs, the last postseason victory for the Broncos.

Look, you're not going to confuse Tebow with Peyton Manning. We know that. But we also know he has an army of haters who shred him when he succeeds and openly root for him to fail -- and, sorry, I don't get it. I mean, Blaine Gabbert has been a bust and Jake Locker hasn't exactly excelled. They were higher draft picks than Tebow, and they're supposed to be more talented. Yet there's not the venom reserved for them that there is for Tebow.

And for what? Because he doesn't throw tight spirals? Or he sometimes misses open receivers? Or he's not Manning or Tom Brady? Big deal. Still, people openly pull for him to embarrass himself, rejoicing when it happens as if it's payback for something he did wrong to them.

The only question is: What? Tebow pulled off one of the most improbable runs in recent NFL history yet his critics abhor him for it -- waiting for him to screw up so they can hate him some more.

Well, count me out. I like seeing underdogs succeed, and Tim Tebow qualifies as one. After last year's botched season with the Jets, the prevailing opinion -- again -- is the guy can't play. So let's see him beat the odds now, just as he beat them before.

I understand why Tim Tebow is easy to like. He works hard to overcome his limitations, plays hard to overcome his opponents and is a natural leader. What I don't understand is why he's easy to dislike. Tim Tebow is not better than everyone else. On the contrary, he's just like everyone else -- someone who keeps getting reminded he doesn't have what it takes to make it big -- and tell me that's who you want to fail.

I remember talking to a Jets assistant prior to last season and asking him about Tebow. "A good football player," he said, "and someone you can use in a lot of ways." The Jets didn't, and that was their mistake. But maybe New England ... or someone else ... will. Here's hoping it happens sooner rather than later.


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