Tim Tebow: The player and the story

Tim Tebow hanging out with Joey Norris, 13, of Kensington, a leukemia patient undergoing chemotherapy.

Now that the dust has settled in Foxboro and the tears have shed throughout the Mile High City, let's address the DMV and the rest of the country's polarized views on Tim Tebow. Opinions are unified in only one capacity--everyone has one.

For weeks, I opted to stay away from the Tebow chatter. I thought the same thing you probably thought reading this blog's headline. Enough already. It's been done.

But, after watching the meltdown Saturday night and the subsequent ridicule that followed, I found myself, along with everyone else, hitting the keyboard (with hopefully better articulation than 140 characters will allow).

I grew up in Florida and generations of my family went to the University of Florida. I learned the meaning of the Gator chomp around the same age I learned the pledge of allegiance. As anyone knows growing up in the SEC, college football is a way of life. Don't take my word for it; take a trip to a local Sports Authority. The racks of orange and blue far outnumber anything Roger Goodell oversees - at least in my town.

For various reasons, I opted to break away from the mold and attend a different college. But, guess what? Tim Tebow began his collegiate career two years after I did. So, let's make it clear. I'm part of a demographic that grew very acquainted with Tim Tebow overload.

His accolades poured in quicker than sorority girls could pull his jersey off the shelves. He had the NCAA's second best passer efficiency in 2007, the third most rushing touchdowns in the same year, and a Heisman Trophy to show for it.

So, cue the comment section below, blowing up with accusations of "bandwagoning." Guess what, I used to make fun of it, too. I never understood how people could become uber fans of a school they never went to, or for a man who hadn't actually taken one snap in the NFL. But again, it's SEC country.

Then, Tebow entered the 2010 draft, and the tide shifted (as did my opinion). Nearly every pundit and coach in the game deemed Tebow an inevitable failure in the NFL. Most famously ESPN analyst and former Steelers and Bears fullback Merril Hoge went on a tweeting rampage, saying "It's embarrassing to think the Broncos could win with Tebow."

Tebow replaced Kyle Orton as Denver's starter and stunned watering holes across the country with six straight wins (albeit, some ugly ones). Hoge later retracted his words.

Say what you want, it was inspiring. The American spirit at its finest. When someone says (and in Tebow's case an overwhelming amount of people) you can't succeed, there's no greater satisfaction in proving them wrong.

I wasn't supposed to be a starter on my college soccer team. I was wait-listed at Northwestern, and I had someone laugh in my face when they heard I'd anchor sports for the first time on ABC-7. So, perhaps I'm Tebow-biased, but I like to see people defy limitations.

However, my real admiration came from his acts of generosity. Recently my colleague, Pamela Brown, interviewed a local Maryland boy stricken with cancer. I won't even explain further. Please watch the video and then try to comment on how much you dislike Tebow. Again, see below section.

Yes, he opens every press conference with a prayer and famously donned "3:16" on his eyeblack in a national championship game. But, so what? He's the one standing at the microphone; it's his beliefs, his motivation. The media asks him about it and he responds.

As a society, we should celebrate a person's success and respect what empowers them. Sadly, often people that don't understand something, hate on it--especially when given the anonymity of an internet forum. I'll concede, it's not "hating" if you don't share his beliefs, or simply if you're a fan of the other team. However, it is hating if you actively root against someone BECAUSE of their beliefs and the spotlight placed upon them.

I'll end with this: I know his stats, and they're not pretty. He has a career QB rating in the 70's, mediocre at best. He completed just 3 passes in a first half when Tom Brady threw 5 touchdowns. The running in circles bit in the pocket might work in college, but not the NFL. His release is wacky. We all know this.

But, if we learned anything this season, it's that things can unexpectedly change. I'm still not a fan of Tebow, or any particular athlete or sport I cover, but I am a fan of the story.