Monday, August 27, 2012

The Passion Of The Tebow, Or How The NFL Became A Reality Show

Jebus wants this mic to be live
My friend and occasional FTT writer Tracer Bullet posted about the NFL Network's Tim Tebow documentary, with the pretty by-the-book reaction of how irritating this whole thing is. My reaction was as follows:

Like all men having to wear hats at all times did for us, the Tebow Phenomenon is going to comfort future generations that they are much, much smarter than their elders.

But honestly, there's a simpler reason: ratings. (And that matches the earlier snark, since people used to go loco for people driving white Broncos on a highway, or a male chauvinist pub hound play a woman 25 years and worlds better then him in tennis, and so on, and so on.)

People of good conscience can not argue that Tim Tebow is a very good NFL QB. He's just not; the completion percentage, sacks taken and points scored do not point to a great talent, and teams do not let studs go this early in their career very often. (Seriously, go back and find a guy who gets bounced from the team that drafts him high, then becomes the centerpiece of a dynasty. It just doesn't usually happen that way.)

Similarly, people of good conscience can not argue that the Jets are a true Super Bowl contender. They didn't make the playoffs last year. The defense is aging in key spots and doesn't get to the quarterback very well. The running game is based around a plodding workhorse who hasn't taken a step up. The wideouts are thin, overrated and moody. The offensive line has strong issues at tackle and has probably seen its best days already, seeing how they haven't been injury prone up to now, and seem to be developing issues. The coaching is highly suspect after last year's collapse, and the history of quirky head coaches usually doesn't do well at this point in the process.

So why all of the attention, then?

Because Tim Tebow gets ratings, and does just enough (Run Shirtless! Be Pious! Oppose Choice! Enrage Ex-NFL QBs!) to stoke them. He's the only thing that has made people want to watch Skip Bayless. When ESPN goes to him, it plays into their need for NY/NE drama, which is, after all, their de facto baseball coverage. There's a whole vast flyover part of the country that wants to embrace him, and another whole set of minority folks who watch his every move and grit their teeth, since there has been literally hundreds of similarly talented option QBs who didn't get this level of attention before.

Is he a QB? No. Will we be talking about him in another 3 to 6 months? No. Are the Jets going to be anything but a sideshow this year? No. Is the media cynical and mean-spirited for giving this much run to this story? Of course, but that's always the case.

And if it didn't work, and the ratings didn't match the interest, they wouldn't do it.

So if you are tired of Tebow... patience.

It will all go away soon.

Like every other reality show, since sports has a scoreboard that eventually saves us from silly spells like this one...

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