By Parrish Alford/NEMS Daily Journal
TUPELO – I am in Tim Tebow’s corner on this one. The former Florida quarterback seems to inspire the extremes of support or disfavor, which leaves me in a smaller crowd of indifference.
With great appreciation for Tebow’s college career, I still think he’d sink if he walked across a real swamp, not “The Swamp,” where his 145 touchdowns, either rushing or passing, inspired legions of followers among the Florida fan base.
I thought his teary-eyed speech after Ole Miss defeated the eventual national champions 31-30 in 2008, whether intended or not, was a knock at Ole Miss. Tebow was so stunned at defeat that he gave very little credit to Ole Miss after the fourth-down stop heard round the college football world.
The Rebels had a pretty stout defensive line then.
Tebow routinely conquered such defenses, but his unorthodox arm motion didn’t score well with NFL scouts. He was projected as third-round pick, maybe fourth, and it was like a bolt of lighting on draft night when Denver took him in the first round with the 25th pick.
Then the criticism of Denver’s selection began.
I understand the science of scouting. I understand the details, the work involved.
At some point a college career needs to count for something. Not the dot.com All-America teams, not the fan worship, but the yards and touchdowns and how they were achieved against some of the best defenses in the country.
Eric Crouch? I get it. He was Nebraska’s option quarterback trying to make his way in a league that doesn’t run the option.
Tebow was more. He ran and passed. He won. He’s more suited to play different positions if necessary, but that doesn’t appear to be the track he’ll take under Denver coach Josh McDaniels, who says, “He’s a quarterback. That’s all he’s going to do.”
So McDaniels sees something that a lot of the analysis didn’t.
McDaniels is only 34, but he’s an offensive guy who turned career backup Matt Cassel into a successful replacement for Tom Brady with 3,693 passing yards and 21 touchdowns in 2008.
It’s certainly within the realm of possibility that McDaniels could get Tebow to hold his elbow higher and correct his throwing motion.
No college star is guaranteed NFL success. Clearly the Broncos think Tebow is a worthwhile investment, more than Notre Dame quarterback Jimmy Clausen and others, and weren’t willing to gamble that he’d be available in the second round.
While some uncertainty surrounds every transition, this much is certain: The Broncos hired a disciplined man of Christian faith who won’t embarrass the organization.
As NFL commissioner Roger Goodell works to keep his employees from imminent danger to themselves and others, not to mention the league’s reputation and marketability, he won’t have to write a letter to Tebow explaining that his career is at a crossroads because of off-field behavior issues.
Perhaps this is the right NFL fit for Tim Tebow, and his work ethic will reward the Broncos’ faith in him as an elite player and not a risk.
Parrish Alford (firstname.lastname@example.org) covers Ole Miss for the Daily Journal. He blogs daily about Ole Miss athletics at NEMS360.com.