The sports media's meltdown in response to former Florida quarterback Tim Tebow going to Denver in the first round of the NFL draft is getting creepy. In fact, some journalists are becoming so unhinged that they are beginning to remind me of the lunatic Tea Party members who claim President Obama is a Muslim commie socialist.
The commentary regarding Tebow is bothersome for many reasons. First, it strikes me as highly unprofessional that many journalists are merely reporting their own shock -- as if this alone constitutes a legitimate story line.
Tebow was the starting quarterback during a national championship season, the backup quarterback for another national championship season, and he was one game shy of playing as the starter for a second national championship. He also won the Heisman Trophy and shattered virtually every offensive passing record in the Southeastern Conference.
These statistics do not guarantee that Tebow will succeed in the NFL, but they make the "shock" rhetoric sound petty and offensive. There are many reasons to justify picking Tebow in the first round. The fact that individual journalists thought it might not happen does not alter this reality -- nor does it make their utter shock newsworthy.
Second, much of the criticism holds Tebow to a much higher standard than other players. One of the most perplexing arguments I have heard states that Tebow must improve in order to succeed in the NFL. That argument, however, applies to every player drafted. It also applies to workers in every profession. I have never seen a great NFL player succeed without experiencing any growth beyond college. I would never tell my law students to rest on their laurels. Tellingly, the journalists who float this line do not provide the names of any player whose performance stagnated after college, but who, nonetheless, was a superstar professional athlete. Such a player does not exist.
Furthermore, regardless of their stellar college performance, most quarterbacks do not lead NFL teams in their first year. Instead, they spend their early years learning to read professional defenses and adjusting to the obstacles that professional quarterbacks encounter.
Despite the fact that all great college players -- especially quarterbacks -- must grow in order to succeed in the NFL, the anti-Tebow commentators single him out for this observation. There is no justification for this disparate treatment.
Finally, many of the journalists are as ill-mannered as the rowdiest Tea Party protesters. A Denver radio show host, for example, recently asked Tebow whether he was going to force his religion on other players. Another one said I expect you to fail. Tebow, showing great poise, said I will work to prove you wrong.
Tebow is a really young guy who is apparently driven to succeed. I applaud all young individuals who are trying to succeed when many others are not. To all of the naysayers: Give the guy a break! Let him learn. Allow him to grow. Give him a chance to work. Wish him well. Then, let's see what happens on the field. If he fails, you can say, "I told you so." But right now, your analysis comes across as if you want him to perform badly. You might as well dismiss him as a Muslim commie socialist.
UPDATE: I guess I was not far off the mark. Check out this just published story: Boston radio host says Tebow draft party like ‘lily-white’ ‘Nazi rally’.