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Tim Tebow is as polarizing a sports figure as there is. His squeaky-clean image, his relationship with God, and his vast success have led to as many detractors as supporters. With their second pick in the first round, and 25th overall, the Denver Broncos made Tim Tebow a very happy young man. It was an intriguing sequence of events as Denver traded down from the 11th pick to the 22nd, seemingly, as Sam Farmer of the Los Angeles Times noted, to get Tebow. His prediction was immediately debunked as the Broncos then selected WR Demaryius Thomas out of Georgia Tech. Shortly thereafter, in the dramatic fashion we have come to love about the NFL draft, Denver made yet another trade and got back into the first round to get Tebow. Cameras at the Tebow home showed the ecstatic quarterback reacting to the news (or participating in a “Nazi rally,” right Toucher and Rich?).
Though it seemed Denver had a difficult time making up their mind on Tebow, new evidence shows that Broncos head coach Josh McDaniels might have made up his mind after a 15-minute meeting at the scouting combine.
“I was jacked leaving that room,” Tebow said. “I didn’t even want to visit another room. It was not enough time. We were excited, we were enthusiastic. There was passion. It was just intense, and it was ball, and it was juice. The juice level in that room was high, and it was awesome.”
McDaniels trumpeted Tebow’s impressive meeting when he said: “We left [the Combine] saying, ‘Boy, that’s pretty unique, what he has and his passion for this game and for winning.’ He’s been a winner, and you could see why.”
Sounds almost like a romance, doesn’t it? Kidding aside, it was clear that these two men had made an immediate connection, one that McDaniels wasn’t about to let slip by the wayside. There have even been reports of Tebow using Denver’s offensive terminology as it related to his Florida offense, a feat that undoubtedly impressed the 34-year-old coach.
Until last week, I was a Tebow detractor. That tide shifted after viewing the wonderfully insightful and entertaining “Gruden’s QB Camp” on ESPN. When Gruden asked his first question about what he would bring to the team that selects him, Tebow’s answer, as always, was spot-on: “I think, number one, I’m going to bring a focus and a determination, and I’ll be the first one in the building, the last one to leave.” He speaks eagerly and looks you directly in the eye. Tebow always says the right thing, only you are inclined to believe him because he has always backed it up. It is hard not to be reminded of Tom Brady, recipient of the famed “Hardest Worker” parking space in Foxboro for his first seven seasons in a row with the Patriots. The only difference is that Tebow enters the league carrying far more natural athletic ability than Brady possessed entering his rookie season. Brady reached the pinnacle of his sport through hard work. He has always said the right thing. Tebow could pick worse footsteps to follow.
Tebow does, however, receive valid criticisms, mostly for his ability as a pocket passer. Tebow ran nearly every snap from the shotgun position at Florida, and he has even altered his throwing motion this off-season to make it more NFL-friendly. All he has done to silence his critics is win, work hard, and absolutely impress everyone he meets. His few weaknesses are overshadowed by the fact that he does everything else right to win football games. His Pro Day workout (like the combine, but held for scouts at the athlete’s college) has already become the stuff of legend, as has his combine workout. He ran the three cone drill in 6.6 seconds, which, trust me, is fast as heck. He hasn’t once said he even expects to be the Broncos starting quarterback.
“I’m going to have one goal and that goal is to earn the respect of my teammates and coaches,” Tebow said. “That’s the only goal I have. It’s not to be the starting quarterback right now, it is to earn their respect, because when you earn respect from people, then they begin to like you, and then they believe in you, and then they begin to love you, and then you have a team that is united and cares about each other more than anything else.
He is the antithesis of most professional athletes. In Tebow, the Denver Broncos now have a football player who is smart, hard-working, a proven winner, and has what amounts to a special relationship with his head coach and offensive-mastermind Josh McDaniels. With his attitude and resume, it’s hard to bet against him. My only regret is that the Patriots didn’t draft him.