Looking around at the grown men wearing “Friar Tuck” head pieces at this weekend’s Denver Broncos game at Invesco Field at Mile High made me take significant pause. The phenomena that is rookie third string quarterback, Tim Tebow is truly a fascinating one. A simple Google search on starting Denver quarterback, Kyle Orton produces just under a half-million results. While this is a significant number of pages to view, the same search on Tebow produces four times as many results. Take a moment to ponder this. A third string quarter back on an average NFL team is getting four times the press that the starter is getting.

Denver moved well up in the draft to take Tebow in the first round of the 2010 NFL draft to take a quarterback that most NFL pundits had as the fourth best quarterback available in the draft. Many lampooned the Broncos for taking this player far earlier than his projected draft position and positioned the team as being open to ridicule or being modern day prophets. Right now, from a purely marketing perspective, the Denver franchise is looking like the big winners in this debate. The Jacksonville Jaguars should be kicking themselves for missing out on this new national treasure that has become the Cult of Tim Tebow. He is a Florida boy whose popularity would only be greater if he were representing one of the local teams. The Jaguars who are struggling financially to keep their franchise afloat could have sold tons of more tickets along with the massive merchandise and perhaps saved a city destined to lose their team.

Tebow jersey sales have far outpaced any player to date. The former University of Florida quarterback has logged the most jersey orders for a rookie since the league began tracking such data in 2006. This phenomenon while difficult to explain, is worthy of an upper-division university course on such social anomalies. What is it that has a nation clamoring in unprecedented numbers to own a piece of clothing with the name Tebow on it? It has truly taken on overtones which make it endearing, yet a bit creepy. Yes, he won the Heisman Trophy as a sophomore. Yes, he led the Gators to two National Championships. Tebow Mania is more than just those very significant milestones. There is something much more going on here.

His personal life, falling far from the mainstream norms, contributes significantly to his charm. The more Americans get to know his personal life story, the more they pull for him to become the ever elusive role model our nation constantly clamors for. It is as if many Americans believe that by putting on a Tim Tebow jersey they become a better human. Because Tebow has lead an apparently unsoiled life: being raised by Christian missionaries overseas, being homeschooled by a mother who chose to risk a dangerous pregnancy over the more sensible option of abortion, being a stand-up young man in the community; all the while putting up huge athletic accomplishments, he has become an icon of what America is “supposed to be about”.

From such high precipices one has nowhere to go but down and this concerns me greatly for Tebow. This same country that longs for someone to throw all their emotional and moral weight behind, is always ready to pounce like a lion the moment a blemish is revealed on their saint. Because we as a nation chose to live vicariously through humans we don’t really know who seem to be good people, we leave them no other choice but to disappoint. And when Americans become disappointed with a hero, it is straight to the rubbish bin with them. There honestly is part of me that hopes that the some shred of dirty laundry would surface TODAY so that Tebow can be left to be what he actually is — a guy doing the best he can. He doesn’t want to disappoint anyone, but how can he not when the expectations and hopes of so many ride on his young shoulders.

Those who build heroes are usually first in line to cast stones. I pray that Tebow will be safe from those who have immortalized him and let him be the third string quarterback for an average NFL franchise. Root for him. Like him. Admire him. But for God’s sake, let him be human.