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December 7, 2011

Tebow Time Resurrecting the NFL

Adam Avery

"It's Tebow Time," I hollered from my back patio with less than two minutes to go in the fourth quarter of the Denver Bronco's recent defeat of the Minnesota Vikings. The win put the Broncos in first place in the AFC West, a half game ahead of the Oakland Raiders.


More importantly, the win improved Bronco's quarterback Tim Tebow's 2011 record to 6–1 as a starter, keeping the spotlight on him and all that he represents.


As I have chronicled over the years, professional football has become a farcical event wrought with showboating and thuggery, everything I despise about professional team sports. Free agency and shameless merchandising has ruined the game I knew as a child.


Growing up on the mean streets of Fairfax and Vienna, VA, one is born into an allegiance as a Redskins fan. For years I could count on Dexter Manley and Charles Mann to wreak havoc on the opposition's offensive line.


Narcissistic – yet successful – quarterback Joe Theismann would be taking snaps under center Jeff Bostic, flanked by fellow "Hogs" George Starke, Russ Grimm, Mark May and Joe Jacoby on the offensive line. Since there wasn’t free agency, time allowed them to build the foundation for team’s scoring records during their era.


John "Riggo" Riggins, a.k.a. "the Diesel," made famous the "counter trey," a misdirection hand off to the running back, reportedly modified after Redskin’s line coach Joe Bugel saw the Nebraska Cornhuskers use it with success at the college level.


The Redskin’s "Fun Bunch" included the "Smurfs” – diminutive receivers Virgil Seay, Charlie Brown and Alvin Garrett. It also included one of the greatest “possession receivers” of all time, Art Monk. Tight ends Don Warren, Doc Walker and Clint Didier – who had a knack for getting open deep down field – would meet in the corner of the end zone after a touchdown and jump in unison and “high-five” each other.


Under the guidance of coach Joe Gibbs, general manager Bobby Bethard’s eye for late round talent and the wallet and charisma of owner Jack Kent Cooke, the ’Skins went to the postseason seven times from 1982 to 1991, winning four conference titles and three of four Super Bowl appearances.


The “Fun Bunch” was the epitome of team celebration. It evaporated in the early 1990s and was replaced with the “me” era. Individual gyrations one could easily mistake as masturbation started with Billy "White Shoes" Johnson, followed by the Ickey Shuffle, Neon Deion’s sideline cantor and end zone dance, culminating in what we know as today's Terrell Owens and Chad Ochocinco (or whatever the hell his name is now) "look at me" nonsense.


Tim Tebow won’t change the audacious “me” celebrations, but his kneeling in prayer is refreshing.


Mr. Tebow is not the prototypical professional quarterback. His mechanics need work. He gets happy feet in the pocket. His delivery takes longer than emptying a bottle of molasses. He is not the most accurate passer. The Broncos have had to implement a “read option” offense to play to his strength (improvising while on the run) and to hide his weaknesses (passing, particularly from the pocket).


The Broncos are winning because Tim Tebow is giving them hope that they can win any game, regardless of score or circumstance. He, like Magic Johnson of the Los Angeles Lakers basketball team, makes those around him play better – the true mark of a great player and adept leader.


His college career is legendary. There is little question that he is the best college player in history, at any position. He won the Heisman Trophy as a sophomore (the only one to do it) and led his team to two National Championships while at the University of Florida. He crushed all college quarterback rushing records. He was always humble when describing his influence on wins and took the blame for his team’s losses. He is a throwback to the way football is supposed to be played. He gives thanks to God for the opportunity to compete.


For that, he is mocked and ridiculed by other players and the liberal media.


He was supposed to have been a victim of abortion. Despite the risks to her health, his mother wouldn't allow it. This was chronicled subtly in a classy – but controversial – pro-life Super Bowl commercial. Tim was supposed to suffer from being home schooled. At the time, home schooled athletes in Florida (among other states) were not allowed to participate on their high school district's sports teams. Laws, labeled the "Tebow Bill," have opened the doors for home schooled children to participate. His being the first home schooler to receive the Heisman Trophy has helped the cause of making this change in more states as we move forward.


People are uncomfortable when others – especially athletes – begin interviews with: "First I have to give thanks to my Lord and savior, Jesus Christ." People love to mock those who kneel in prayer in public. Tim does it after every touchdown. It makes people cringe. How dare he pray to his God in public?


I absolutely adore Tim Tebow. And so do my girls, including my wife who caught Tebow fever watching me watch Florida play SEC foes during his college career.


The NFL finally has a role model mothers and fathers can rely on. We don’t need to worry about Tim  being arrested for soliciting prostitutes, carrying loaded guns in airports, beating his wife, impregnating multiple women and then abandoning the offspring, driving drunk, failing drug tests and the like.


That isn’t to say Tim is perfect and won’t make mistakes. I guarantee when that the time comes, he will go public without the aid of lawyer speak and make his mistake into something positive for himself and others.


In his most recent post-game interview, when asked what he thinks about “Tebow Time (mania),” he responded: “It's not my job to see people's reasons behind it, but I know of a kid with cancer that tweeted me, 'Tebowing while I'm chemoing.’ How cool is that?"


He continued: "That's worth it right now. If that gives him any encouragement or puts a smile on his face, or gives him encouragement to pray, that's completely awesome."


Awesome indeed . . . . .


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