Is Tim Tebow the best quarterback in the NFL? That seems to be the question that a lot of national talking heads and beat writers are debating these days. I have been watching football for at least 45 years, most of them I can remember. So that makes me as much of an expert as anyone else, outside of those who have played the position at the NFL level. After listening to some of those guys talk, I think I may be more qualified to speak on the subject because I don’t have a personal agenda like Cordele Stewart does! So let me weigh in on the Tebow debate.
I have been watching SEC football in general and Gator football in particular from the field level since 1987 and what I am about to say might surprise and anger some Gator fans. Tim Tebow is not the best quarterback to ever play at Florida Field! Now before you start slinging rocks my way, let me finish. The best qb I ever saw play in person at Florida Field was not even a Gator. The best by far in my opinion to ever throw the ball within the confines of Ben Hill Griffin Stadium was Jay Cutler of Vanderbilt. He had an amazing arm and possessed great poise when he almost led the Commodores to an upset of Florida at home. His passes moved through the air in a way that was almost magical. He fit the ball into spaces that I was sure a nerf ball couldn’t have gone and if any other qb had tried to complete would have been easy interceptions. Heck, Tim may not even be the second or third best qb to ever play at Florida, if all you are looking for is the ability to throw the football in an aesthetically pleasing way. You could take your pick of Chris Leak, Shane Matthews, Rex Grossman or even Kerwin Bell if that is what you are basing your choice upon.
So clearly, I don’t think Tim Tebow is the best quarterback in the NFL based upon arm strength or ability to read the defense either. He does tend to hold the ball a little too long, a trait we all saw at Florida as well. I think that was coached into him to keep him from throwing silly interceptions. We saw the same thing with Chris Leak and with John Brantley until this year! That was a coaching philosophy of Meyer and his staff that Tim has taken to heart. That is also why he only has one interception thrown this year. And that is one reason why the Denver defense is so suddenly improved! He does tend to drop the ball a little too far when he throws it and it takes a little longer for him to release it than some other qbs in the league. So you can’t really argue the mechanical flaws that the national guys are pointing out.
However, if you ask me who the greatest football player I ever saw play at UF, Tim would have to be in the top three. The only reason he wouldn’t be number one is that I saw a guy named Smith run the ball here without much of any help on offense for three years. Emmitt had to carry more of the load, because he didn’t have a potent passing game to help him but he did have a good offensive line. And in spite of three different coaches, he put up some pretty impressive numbers. Tim had a lot more talent around him during his Gator career. Just look at the receivers and linemen who played on those teams who are playing in the NFL along with Tebow and you will know they had some great teams at UF. The third could be debated between some great defensive players and a few visiting team stars like Warrick Dunn, Shaun Alexander, Cadillac Williams, and Mark Ingram, oh and those Manning brothers!
Putting aside my respect for his character and faith, the thing that sets Tim Tebow apart from other players who have played at UF and are now in the NFL for me is his intense desire to win. If I had to choose one person to hold the other end of a rope with me dangling over a den full of hungry lions and covered in the scent of a wounded antelope, I would want Tim Tebow. I know that I could count on him to never quit and to give everything he had until his last breath to get me up and out of that pit. That was what made him so valuable at UF and what is making him so marketable in the NFL. He just won’t quit. He keeps his word, he keeps his composure, and he keeps making the plays necessary to win. I don’t think John Fox really knows what he has or he would not have punted with a fourth and a half-foot to go in overtime last week. I would have felt very comfortable putting my career in Tim’s hands by calling a QB sneak if I had been Coach Fox.
I have seen Tim do incredible things while at UF. Some of the most incredible were not even on the field. I have seen him take the time to have pictures made with hundreds of kids and girls of all ages after speaking in a church until all of them were finished. I have watched him hold a door on campus while talking with me for 15 minutes and taking the time to greet everyone who came through it. He’s not playing like a believer, he is a believer and that is what makes him special.
For all those who are questioning his ability to be an NFL quarterback, I would ask you to give me answer to this question. What has changed in Denver since the beginning of the season? The four letter experts point to the better play of the defense and the running game. Ok, but what has changed there? What has made them better? Did they change personnel or the scheme? The only thing that has really changed in Denver is that Tim Tebow is now the starting quarterback. He has made the running game better and he has made the defense better because they believe he will not quit and they don’t want to quit either. Tim is the best motivator I have ever known as an athlete. He just makes you want to play harder, longer, quicker, and do more than you did before he was around you. He makes coaches look better, smarter, and helps put money in their pockets if they put him on the field. He makes young men want to live better, love God, even keep their virginity, and do the right things just because they want to be like him. If you ever spend time with him, you will know that he is the real deal, plain and simple.
Many years ago, I gave a challenge to a guy who was a first round draft pick in the NFL. I challenged him to be a Christian who happened to play football instead of being a football player who happened to be a Christian. The difference is noticeable! Just look at Tim Tebow and you will see the best example of that that I have ever seen! Anywhere! Any time!