He is perhaps the most polarising figure in all of sports right now. Revered and idolised by some; despised and castigated by others. There appears to be no middle ground, and given that Tebow started the season effectively as the third-string quarterback of a bad football team, that is truly remarkable. Many may be sick of the Tim Tebow weekly soap opera, but the simple fact is that our indignation is being aimed at the wrong target. We need to look towards the media, who are currently poised with their finger on the trigger.

Let us start with something relatively uncontentious: three minutes aside, Tim Tebow has been absolutely putrid in his last two starts at quarterback. He has displayed such ineptitude at the position that it has raised legitimate questions over whether he will ever be able to overcome his technical deficiencies to ultimately become a serviceable starting quarterback in this league. The stats nicely illustrate this point. Tebow has completed only 46% of his throws in the last two games, a stat that drops to 42% when you take screen passes out of the equation.

He holds onto the ball for far too long, so it was hardly a surprise that the Lions were able to sack him seven times on Sunday. As well as seemingly holding onto the rock indefinitely, his delivery of the football when he actually decides to throw it is also far too prolonged. It is just inviting a swipe from opposing defenders, and Tebow’s fumble against Detroit, which was returned for a touchdown, could become a familiar sight in weeks to come.

In many ways the Broncos have not helped Tebow. They traded away his best wide receiver in Brandon Lloyd. Furthermore, the state of the Broncos defense can hardly be construed as an indictment on Tebow; even Titus Young could not believe just how open he was for his first NFL touchdown on Sunday. Whereas the shortcomings of a Joe Flacco, Mark Sanchez or early Big Ben might be mitigated by a resilient defense and close scoreline, Tebow is afforded no such luxuries.

At the same time, however, the Broncos have been accommodating Tim as best they can with their play-calling. In 76 offensive snaps in the last two games, more than 50 have come from the shotgun formation. We are seeing a lot of the college-style spread offense, which is a complete change in mentality for this Denver team.

That is the stats and the negativity out of the way. Now, if we step aside from the figures and the raw visceral reaction that we have to Tim Tebow, we need to ask ourselves a question: why do we care so much?

Why did Stephen Tulloch feel the need to perform a ‘mock Tebow-prayer’ after a sack? Why did an anonymous Lions defender tell Michael Silver of Yahoo! Sports, “Come on – that’s embarrassing. I mean, it’s a joke… Come on – that’s your quarterback? Seriously?”

Blaine Gabbert has been woeful in the first few starts of his NFL career, and he was the tenth overall pick in this year’s draft. Why is he not the subject of intense derision and criticism? Sam Bradford was the first overall pick in the 2010 draft that included Tebow, but comparatively we hear so little about him. Why do we not care as much about these other young quarterbacks? Why does Tebow not get the same benefit of the doubt?

Many will argue that it is because of how Tebow was sold to us prior to entering the NFL. He was the ‘greatest college quarterback of all-time’, but his mechanics were flawed. He is perceived as self-righteous, and sickeningly perfect in almost every way. But Tebow never created this image. He will not preach about religion unless directly asked about it. His stats in college speak for themselves, and it was actually the media that anointed him the chosen one. Tebow’s cult was crafted by the media in much the same way as Lebron James’ was; the notable difference being that Tebow never added to this persona by declaring himself to be ‘the King’.

The myth of Tebow was perpetuated by the media for the purposes of a good story. Now, for the purposes of another story, Tebow is being crucified each and every week by the very same media that elevated him. So no margin for error is afforded to a young quarterback that is a nice guy, a hard worker and a terrific role model. Even if you are of the opinion that he will never become a decent NFL quarterback, why would you cheer against him? Why would fans, analysts and fellow players alike take such pleasure in mocking him? This seems to be a testament to our culture and the stimulus-overload that we experience from the media on a daily basis.

This is schadenfreude on a whole new level. Lebron was portrayed as a hero, and then the infamous Hummer loan and throwback jersey scandal engorged us and turned Lebron into a villain. His status was then reinstated, only to be torn apart again following his move to Miami last summer.

The media creates them. The media destroys them. It is all in the name of ratings, and we as the audience cannot help but be drawn into their trap. It hardly seems fair, but unfortunately Tebow has no choice but to bear this burden. He will not complain either; he’ll just add it to that other burden. You know, the one of trying to become a respectable quarterback in the unrelenting environment that is the NFL.


Oggy’s Quick Slants

–       Before last weekend, Andrew Luck was as hot a commodity as he could possibly be. Or so we thought. His pick 6 in the fourth quarter against USC actually raised his stock, as it provided him with an excellent opportunity to show the nation how he can recover from adversity. Smart guy that he is, he grabbed this opportunity with both hands.

–       Chris Johnson signed an incredible four-year, $53.5 million contract extension in September. We all know how short the shelf life of a running back is in this league, so this move from the Titans appeared foolish from the start. He is only 26, but this season he has just 107 yards in 7 games, averaging a derisory 2.8 yards per carry. Massively outplayed at the moment by his backup Javon Ringer, is this a blip or a sign of things to come? Pass the purple drank.