Tim Tebow can bring out the worst in people. Regardless of what the guy does, there are always people waiting in the wings, eager to point out anything they can to take away from what Tebow has accomplished, which may be why people are still complaining about him being listed as one of the 100 greatest NFL players of 2012.
Here is a guy who pushes himself every day to achieve his goals. He pushed himself into the starting position in college as a Florida Gator, pushed himself to win two National Titles and a Heisman Trophy, and pushed himself to become an improbable first round pick in the NFL Draft.
In most cases, a guy like that is praised and respected by fans and players everywhere. In Tebow’s case, no one can get past his throwing motion, or the fact he is built like a running back, or that he puts the ball in the dirt at times.
I would be the first to admit, there were several games last season that were painful to watch. Tebow seemed to make a habit of wasting away the first 3 quarters of a game before sensing the urgency to make plays. Once that urgency would strike, though, it became thrilling to watch.
The biggest argument I hear about all of the late game heroics last season, is how stellar the defense played, keeping the Denver Broncos in close games. I will not argue that one bit. The defense did play great. They played their hearts out. The thing is, they played their hearts out because Tim Tebow needed them to, and he gave them the encouragement to get it done.
This is the same defense that was out on the field during the first 5 games of the season and the same defense that gave up an average of 28 points per game during that stretch. It is the same D that took the field with Kyle Orton as their starting quarterback.
We all got to witness the transition during the game against the San Diego Chargers on week 5. We saw the transition from Orton to Tebow, and from a defensive sieve, to a brick wall. The Broncos defense held the Chargers to 6 second half points after having given up 23 in the Orton-led first half. Tebow pumped up the troops on both sides of the ball, and helped to put them in a position to win on the very last play of the game.
With Tebow at the helm, the Broncos only lost 1 game over the next 7 weeks.
No one can say that Denver went on a 6 game winning streak solely because of Tim Tebow. To say something of that sort would be to declare yourself a Tebow Fanatic. I see things much more clear than that.
Tebow was just part of the machine, and there were significant contributions from all over the field. What Tebow did do, was change the dynamic of the game. He opened up running lanes for Willis McGahee. He lifted up the receivers when they missed a big catch, he pushed the Defense to become more than they were, and he held himself accountable for every moment of the game.
Tebow was a leader of men on the football field, and he gave everyone a reason to believe.
The mechanics of his game were nasty. The offensive system put in place was collegiate. He was just as likely to run as he was to pass on any given down, but when it mattered, Tebow made the plays to put the Broncos in a position to win.
Without his contribution, the Broncos would have been at the bottom of the AFC West, sitting where the Oakland Raiders, the Kansas City Chiefs, and the San Diego Chargers were at the end of the season, on the outside looking in. Instead, the Broncos went on an improbable run, overcame a 1-4 record, overcame a midseason quarterback switch, they overcame learning a new offensive system on the fly, and they made it to the playoffs. None of which happens without Tim Tebow in the starting lineup.
There is no doubt that the Broncos benefitted from other teams shooting themselves in the foot along the way, but the same thing can be said about any given team, every single year. The Green Bay Packers don’t even make the 2010 playoffs without help, and yet they went on to win the Super Bowl. The bottom line is that all playoff teams do what they have to do in order to get in, whether they get help from their opponents or not. It takes nothing away from Tebow going 7-4 and leading the Broncos into the post season.
On Wild Card Weekend, Tebow threw the ball for 316 yards, including 3 passes for over 50 yards, something no quarterback in NFL history has ever done. Oh, and he did it against the leagues best defense. The Pittsburgh Steelers had allowed only 7 passes of 30 yards or more ALL season. Tebow threw 5 passes for over 30 yards in that game. His passer rating was 125.6, the best in Denver post season history, a history that was practically written by one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time, John Elway.
Look, the question at hand is, was Tim Tebow a top 100 player last season. It is not asking if he is one of the greatest ever, it is was he one of the greatest last year, and the answer is a definite YES. Honestly, he should probably be higher on the list, given what he meant to the team and the way he raised everyone else’s level of play, but because of his many deficiencies, #95 seems fair.
I dare anyone to come up with 5 players not already on the list, greater than Tim Tebow last season. Be realistic about it…and try not to let the Tebow hate get in the way.
Jeff Everette is a featured columnist for RantSports.com. You can follow him on twitter @jeverettesports, or his facebook page Jeff Everette- Rant Sports, for all of his latest articles, opinions, and rants.