Monday, January 16, 2012

The Mania!

I haven't been able to get the Tebow Mania thing out of my mind.  I'm hoping that thinking about it here might rid me of those thoughts so here goes.

I'm a legitimate Gator having spent most of my education years at the University of  Florida and earning a degree there.  I'm also a legitimate New Englander having been born in Maine and having spent most of my life here.

I have followed Florida football ever since the 50s when I entered UF.  It wasn't exciting in most of those years.  I remember vividly, however, some of the good times.  For example I recall telling a popular Portland TV sports director, now deceased, that he should be watching a guy named Steve Spurrier.  He was going to win the Heisman Trophy.  I took a ribbing over that one for a while, then the look on his face following the announcement was priceless.  He didn't have to say anything, and he didn't.

A few years later, Spurrier, now the head coach at South Carolina, returned to Gatorland to take over the team as its coach.  He brought the Gators into real national attention and consistently at or near the top of college football.  He left for a coaching positions in the pros and Florida had a few lean years. 

Then came Tim Tebow and a new coach.  With Tebow came another Heisman winner, a couple national championships and the Tebow Era and Mania were born.  But many forget those teams also had a supporting cast of superior players, many of whom are in the NFL today, and some are stars in their own right. 

Tebow was eventually drafted by Denver, but the professional mania was only tickled last year.  "Those in the know" said that Tebow, in spite of his Florida credentials, didn't have what it takes to be successful in pro ball, at least as a quarterback.  He played a few minutes in various games last year and seemed to prove "those in the know" correct.  Denver kept him but it was unclear what his role would be this past season.

Until Game Five.  With the Broncos already burying themselves in the cellar, Tebow was given a chance to show what he could do.  What he did best was on several occasions rally the Broncos in the last quarter, yanking them from the jaws of defeat.  When the season ended, what no one, except the ardent Tebow fans, thought could happen happened.  Denver went from the cellar to winning its AFC division. 

There was a major bump along the way:  they played the New England Patriots in a season game.  Well, at least they were on the field with the Pats.  Denver struggled after that until the first playoff game against Pittsburgh.

Under normal circumstances, the Steelers probably would have made a short stay in the post season for Denver.  But the circumstances for Pittsburgh were not normal.  My late grandmother used to tell me that how one's feet feel gives an indication of the whole body.  Ben Roethlisberger had a sore ankle.  Not exactly the foot, but close enough.  I cannot help but admire Roethlisberger for doing what real leaders do:  he played uncomplainingly hurt.  And it showed.  When time expired in that game, all the Steelers could show was a tie score.  Tebow performed one of his miracles.

Tebow and the Broncos had to play the Patriots.  Tebow Mania was in full force and his name was on the lips of even non football fans.  But New England had a true champion and Tom Brady didn't have a sore foot.  I agree with one of the commentators during half time of the game when he said that all the Tebow talk was a huge mistake.  I wish I could remember the announcer's name so I could give him credit.  He pointed out that Tebow was really a rookie with no real NFL past beyond this season.  He was up against one of the best, if not the best, quarterbacks currently playing football.

Brady has Super Bowl championships, MVPs, All-Star games, records, and experience going for him.  That announcer pointed out that all the talk of Tebow and virtually none of the much better quarterback didn't go unnoticed by Brady.  There could have been no better motivational hype than being ignored.

On the field Saturday night, the game was over in the first two minutes.  For the rest of the game, the young man from Denver was taken to school.  Will Tim Tebow ever become an NFL super star?  I don't know; only a few more years can give us that answer.  But for today, hindsight is much easier to handle.

By the way, Tebow wasn't the only Gator on the field.  In fact one of Tebow's UF classmates has shined this season at least as well if not better.  I think if I could pick anyone for my team today, I'd select Aaron Hernandez over Tim Tebow.

I wonder if the Ravens will be hyping Joe Flacco!

There, now I can give my thought process just a little rest.  Thanks.


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