No middle ground: Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow may never be a great NFL quarterback

The polarizing effect of Tim Tebow

He’s one of the most polarizing figures in the NFL in just his second year of professional football. He has started a mere five games in his young career, yet it’s nearly impossible to find a fan who is neutral in their feelings toward him.

Yes, for reasons that are largely unknown, it has become clear: You either love Tim Tebow or you hate him.

And it’s a genuine shame that the guy can’t play quarterback worth a lick, because that only complicates matters.

For those who weren’t sure if the horrendous Tebow we saw for the first 55 minutes against Miami was the real thing, or if it was the hero who brought his team back from a 15-point deficit in the final five minutes to win in overtime, Sunday’s game in Detroit gave you the answer.

Tebow simply does not have the skill set necessary to be an effective starter in the NFL, let alone the type of star he was at the University of Florida.

Can he be a gimmicky weapon when utilized at the right time and in the right situation for a team that has a legitimate starter? Absolutely. Can he be an every-down quarterback who can throw and lead his teams to victories on a regular basis? Not a chance.

But this isn’t about that.

What I still can’t seem to figure out is why so many people dislike the kid.

I’m not talking about the talking heads at ESPN who have dissected the QB’s game and declared him to be more flawed as a passer than Shane Lechler. Merril Hoge, Trent Dilfer and the crew seem to be spot-on in their analysis of his talent.

I’m talking about the personal attacks. The insults. The open cheering for his failure.

From radio talk shows to message boards to social media, it has been open season on Tebow since the day the Denver Broncos mistakenly made him a first round pick in the 2010 draft.

The question is, why?

Last time I checked, Tebow hadn’t just returned from a stretch in the federal penitentiary for torturing animals. He wasn’t recently released from prison for firing a gun in a night club. He hasn’t been suspended for using drugs. He hasn’t been accused of sexual assault by young co-eds on a college campus, and he hasn’t posed for pictures with porn stars wearing his game jersey.

Each and every one of those disciplinary nightmares applies to current NFL players who don’t generate half of the hatred Tebow seems to endure on a regular basis.

Oh sure, Tebow has spent a considerable amount of time in prison. Multiple prisons, in fact. But his time was spent as a visitor, talking to hardened convicts about the possibility of turning their lives around through Jesus Christ.

Wait a second. Maybe that’s it. Maybe being an unapologetic messenger spreading the word of God is Tebow’s unforgivable sin.

Don’t think so? Go ahead and Google the search term “Tebowing” and see what you find.

What you’ll find is the same thing Lions linebacker Stephen Tulloch showed you Sunday after sacking Tebow in Detroit’s blowout win over the Broncos. Tulloch got down on one knee and bowed his head, mocking the prayer position Tebow displayed in the comeback win over the Dolphins a week earlier. The pose has become an Internet sensation, as people from all walks of life snap pictures of themselves mimicking Tebow’s gesture.

There is little doubt Tebow’s open display of his faith has rubbed many people the wrong way. Some say he’s too good. They believe anybody wearing a public halo must be phony. So they mock him. And they cheer for his failure.

Tim Tebow will never become a great NFL quarterback, it’s true. But the fact that fans won’t accept him for simply being a great human being and a wonderful role model for kids — well, that’s just uglier than any one of his fluttering passes could ever be.

Bob Frantz is a freelance journalist and regular contributor to The Examiner. Email him at bfrantz@sfexaminer.com.

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