Tebow a rookie worth rooting for

Posted June 03, 2010 @ 9:53 a.m.
Posted By Ron Borges

Tim Tebow is a devout Christian who has been asked to turn the other cheek so many times since the drafting process began he should have whiplash.

Scouts, personnel men, coaches and one drunken owner (Jerry Jones) all suggested in various ways that his throwing motion and poor footwork will doom him to failure in the NFL despite having been a Heisman Trophy winner who twice led Florida to national championships while becoming a cult hero for his toughness on the field and gentle soul off it.

At age 22, Tebow has become a lightning rod, as well, because he is unafraid to talk about his religious beliefs. This makes a lot of people nervous. Why? Only they know, but it's true.

If Tebow were some rye whiskey-drinking philanderer, he'd be a cultural icon. Instead, he wears his faith on his eye black and appears to have nothing to hide. For this he makes people nervous? As the father of a 20-year-old daughter, I'd be more nervous around Ben ­Roethlisberger.

Scouts with doubts may be right about Tebow's NFL potential, though. He wouldn't be the first college star who couldn't make the transition to pro football, because pro football is about exceedingly small margins for error. To survive as a quarterback you can't carry the ball by your hip and have a windup longer than Juan Marichal's — two problems Tebow has been working diligently to correct. Whether he can do it is an open question, but if you believe in feel-good stories, you should hope he does.

No one knows if he can adjust his way of throwing. It's unlikely that he will, because under duress most athletes revert to what they know best.

Yet Mike Shanahan, who knows a thing or two about quarterbacking, said he wouldn't bet against Tebow. Not because Tebow's the best prospect Shanahan has ever seen. He isn't. He's about as flawed a thrower as you may come across, carrying the ball by his hip, using his arm — not his legs — to deliver a pass and taking so long to get the ball to the launch position that defenders will devour him if he can't change.

So what? This is a guy who showed up in Denver, after Broncos head coach Josh McDaniels had risked his future by trading three draft picks to acquire him late in the first round, with a full suitcase. He was ready for work. When he learned that was against NFL rules, he said he'd start as soon as they'd let him. No holdouts. Just workouts. Who'd knock that idea?

"I think you're going to have critics your whole life," Tebow said. "I think I've had them my whole life since I was a freshman in high school and they said that I couldn't be a quarterback in high school.

"To be honest, through the course of my career, my critics and the people who have told me 'I can't' have been one of my greatest motivating factors."

No rants. No whining about being "disrespected." No chest beating. No third-person references. Just a guy with faith in two things — God and himself — saying, "We'll see."

This day and age, that's someone to root for.

 

Ron Borges is a columnist for the Boston Herald.

PFW correspondent Frank Schwab profiles Tim Tebow and the challenge that faces him in Denver in the cover story of the June 2010 issue of Pro Football Weekly. Also, PFW personnel analyst Nolan Nawrocki offers scouting reports on the four quarterbacks on the Broncos' depth chart. In addition, the issue looks at eight other teams with unsettled QB situations, and it provides offseason updates on all 32 teams. You can purchase this issue at newsstands and bookstores or online at PFWstore.com in print format or as a PDF. Or, you can subscribe to PFW Online.

For the most authoritative NFL draft news and free-agency analysis, visit ProFootballWeekly.com.