When the Tebowing Gets Tough ...

If you Google “Tim Tebow” these days, what you find is story after story after story of teams making it very clear that they have no interest in him.

“We’re really happy with the two quarterbacks we have,” San Diego GM Tom Telesco told NFL.com.

“We feel really good about (our backup) Kyle Orton,” Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones implausibly told the Dallas Morning News.

“No. … totally untrue,” a high-ranking Dolphins official told writer Armando Salguero, who tweeted that he had simply asked, “Tim Tebow?”

In Cincinnati, my friend Paul Daugherty was called a f------- idiot (or some such)* for simply suggesting that it might not be totally nuts for the Bengals to possibly, maybe think about considering the option of perhaps looking into Tebow. Warren Moon jumped in to say Tebow can’t play in the CFL. The Jacksonville Jaguars -- the freaking JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS -- who are terrible, who are utterly nondescript, who have been putting tarps in the upper deck (except when Tebow comes), who are desperately trying to rebrand themselves while people keep talking about the team moving to Los Angeles … even the Jaguars do not want Tim Tebow.

*I have now seen the NSFW tweet-- the guy did not call Daugherty an idiot, but did ask what the f--- was wrong with him.

“The Jacksonville Jaguars’s plans do not include Tim Tebow,” a team spokesman wrote to the Florida Times Union.

Heck, the Montreal Alouettes GM Jim Popp, who has exclusive CFL negotiating rights to Tebow, offered what has to be the most tepid recruiting quote I think I’ve ever heard. “He would be coming to Montreal to be a backup player ... to learn the game and, maybe, in the future, he’ll be able to compete for a starting job,” Popp told the Montreal Gazette.

I don’t know -- all of it feels like people protesting way, way, way too much.

Look, it doesn’t take a genius to notice that Tebow is kind of inaccurate throwing footballs and he has a long throwing motion that makes his release cartoonishly slow. It also doesn’t take a genius to know that he’s still 25, he’s won a Heisman Trophy, he has started 14 games in the NFL -- most of those in a playoff run, and most of them victories -- and that there is a lot to like about him. He’s tough. He’s committed. He’s fast. He seems a good teammate.

But he has something else -- a gift or a curse or both -- and it is this: Everyone has a STRONG opinion about him. And to make it double the fun, it’s not the same opinion. Think how rare that is for a football player? Does everyone have a strong opinion about Aaron Rodgers? Matt Ryan? Joe Flacco? Cam Newton? Could you fill up any number of hours of talk radio and TV argument time talking about them? No. Not unless you brought Tim Tebow into the conversation (then you will get the very strong opinion that those quarterbacks are BETTER than Tebow).

Tebow must live with being fascinating to people … or violently NOT fascinating to people. Certainly no player in memory has inspired more “I don’t care about …” comments than Tim Tebow.

This knack for inspiring strong feelings has marked Tim Tebow’s entire pro career. Should he really have been a first-round NFL pick? No. Not the way he throws the ball. He should have been a fifth- or seventh-round pick, like the project he so clearly was. But he’s Tim Tebow, and people can’t help but be fascinated by him and so the Broncos took him in the first round -- with all the expectation and money that comes with that pick.

Should Tebow have been the Broncos starting quarterback in only his second year? Probably not. But that team had a very good defense, and Jerry Jones’ favorite Kyle Orton was leading the Broncos to a lot of losing, And also Tebow is fascinating to people. Then, improbably, Tebow and the team -- for whatever reason -- had a nice finish and earned an unlikely playoff spot. Then the Broncos got Peyton Manning.

Should the Jets have traded for Tebow? Of course not. That made no sense from the second it happened, But, one more time, Tebow is fascinating to people. Maybe the Jets wanted to win the battle for the tabloid backpages (mission accomplished!). Maybe they wanted to bring out the best of Mark Sanchez (mission failed miserably!). Whatever they wanted, you would have thought after making the trade that they would actually have wanted Tebow to SUCCEED in some form, but they basically treated him with disdain, did not build anything that fed his talents, and it was a fiasco.

Then the Jets released Tebow, and it was big news because … he’s Tim Tebow.

Every step, people have not seen Tebow. They have seen the phenomenon, not the player. They have seen the best-selling author and pitchman, not the man. They have seen the controversy and the inspiration, not the quarterback. Maybe it just had to be that way because of Tebow’s biography.

Still, this latest reaction seems a shame. Here you have terrible teams like the Jaguars and rich owners who haven’t won squat in two decades like Jerry Jones trying to score cheap points by publicly saying they don’t want Tebow. Why does he deserve that? Has he been a bust like, say, Jamarcus Russell or Ryan Leaf? No. Has he been a bad guy? No. Has he been a terrible teammate? No.

Seems to me he’s just been a great guy to root for and root against, an honest and religious guy who seems to have been pretty respectful to those who disagree, a hard-working guy who has taken way too many shots and been given way too much praise and has not seemed to let that change him. I wasn’t a Tim Tebow fan coming out of college -- I did not think he could throw well enough. I still don’t know if Tim Tebow could be a productive quarterback in the NFL. But watching all these football people falling over themselves to kick him while he’s down, I find myself hoping he proves them all wrong.