When news broke last week that quarterback Tim Tebow was traded from the Denver Broncos to my favorite team, the New York Jets, I was shocked by the move. I was not surprised by the reaction of New York fans and media, however.
Tebow led the Broncos to six come-from-behind wins and an overtime victory against the Pittsburgh Steelers in the playoffs on Jan. 8. He became the most polarizing player in the NFL when the Broncos signed future Hall of Fame quarterback Peyton Manning on March 20.
The Jets front office was hungry to get attention for the team and desperate to acquire a big-name player for the New York market following a second Super Bowl title in four years by the New York Giants. They failed to adequately read Tebow’s contract, missing the clause that stated they would have to pay the Denver Broncos $5 million in addition to offering a 2012 fourth-round draft pick to acquire him.
When Tebow was introduced Monday, the reality that the most-watched player in the most- scrutinized league in the nation was on my team hit me. The hype around Tebow is kind of silly when you consider that he is a backup quarterback who completed less then half of his passes last season. What bothers me about Tebow is not the media attention or the endorsements he has received since competing in professional football — it’s the fact that the public feels Tebow embodies values that other athletes don’t.
As a white, deeply religious Christian man, Tebow exudes what society considers to be purity. It’s not hard to see that people with views and rules driven by the Bible run a portion of our country. In an age where individuals can become media creators through blogging and social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook, Tebow has exploded in popularity. Football fans and people looking for an athlete to save professional sports from the corrupt dark ages it has always existed in have done everything short of worship him.
Tebow is one of the least skilled quarterbacks in the game. There are certainly college and probably high school quarterbacks who can throw the ball better than him. The answer to why we care so much about him is we keep expecting him to fail, and somehow, every time we think he’s finished, he comes back and shocks us again. He is not someone who fades quietly into our memories, especially now that he’s in New York. Whether it’s through faith in religion or sheer persistence, Tebow will act as one last bastion of hope for those who choose to ignore all that is wrong with sports.