I am a Tim Tebow fan. I became one at SEC Media Days 2008. I was prepared to write some typically sarcastic column about Tebowâ€™s preaching that day, but I was struck by Tebow the manâ€”he was sincere in everything he said and did. Tebow was a refreshing face in the world of college football; the world of college football is populated by pompous jerks flashing fingers and taunting rival fans. On that warm summer day in Birmingham, Tebow was different.
Tebowâ€™s 2008 season was magical. It hurt Alabama fans to see Tebow carry his team in the fourth quarter of last yearâ€™s SEC Championship Game. On that day, he was superman. Tebow made impressive throws. He was the best college football player last year.
Tebow was the defining football player of the last decade. He was Heisman Trophy winner. He won a national championship.
But even if the Gators had won Saturday, he should not have been considered the greatest player ever. He wasnâ€™t even the greatest quarterback in Florida Gatorsâ€™ history. I would rank him no higher than third. The best quarterback ever in the SEC was Danny Wuerffel. The second best Gator quarterback would be Steve Spurrier. (For those who doubt Wuerffelâ€™s greatness, his record is the best ever for a quarterback in this league at 32-3-1 for a .903 winning percentage.) However we define greatness, whether it is through winning, or excellence (like mechanics), Wuerffel was a better player. I would take him any day of the week as the quarterback of my team. I also believe Wuerffel compares to Tebow in the character attributes too.
Tebowâ€™s legacy will suffer because of the increased attention on college football. The media spotlight is brighter today with the constant coverage from traditional and non-traditional media outlets. Every Tebow success was magnified. As Verne and Gary gushed, Tebow became more than a player. And it is easy to understand why the networks would cover Tebow. How many people in todayâ€™s selfish world take the time to go on mission trips, or turn down wanton sex with coeds? Tebow was special.
Tebow became a hero because his flaws were small. Or at least were never magnified by the media. And much like a diamond, can we appreciate his uniqueness without some flaws? Overcoming our flaws is what makes us human. Greg McElroy overcame a midseason slump to become MVP of the SEC Championship Game. But what did Tebow overcome? From the moment of his recruitment, he was the anointed one. Championships were inevitable for him. It is why those tears were so sweet to those outside the Florida family. For the first time in memory, Tebow was a mortal.
And now with the Tebow story without its fairytale ending, perhaps we can appreciate him more when he next achieves success. And he will achieve success. He is a leader with substantial character. He might not be an NFL quarterback, but he will make a difference whether he is playing pro ball next year, pursuing a ministry or working in the private sector.
But all the good things about Tebow should not cloud our judgment. Tebow was a great player; he was one of the greatest of this decade. He was not the greatest ever, and he was not the greatest Florida player ever.