He just got picked by the Denver Broncos in the first round of the NFL Draft, ahead of Jimmy Clausen and way ahead of where his talent level says he should have been picked. The skeptic, and the grouch, is tempted to rail about how ridiculous it is -- even NFL teams overrated this guy!
But you know what? Good. Good for the Broncos who, by trading up and taking Tebow at No. 25, made what amounts to a remarkable statement in this all-too-sour Woods/Roethlisberger era of sports. In a society that's all too quick to forgive athletes' knucklehead behavior because of their talent, the Broncos just did the reverse. They overlooked a guy's on-field deficiencies in favor of his character.
Nobody who met, interviewed or worked out Tebow during the draft process -- not even a tipsy Jerry Jones on a cell phone camera -- had one negative thing to say about Tebow the person. Coaches, scouts and GMs alike gushed over his presence, his obvious leadership abilities, the impression he makes that backs up his record and reputation as a winner. Those who didn't like him as a draft prospect sounded disappointed when they discussed his shortcomings. They wished he had Jay Cutler's arm and Sam Bradford's accuracy, because if he did, they'd all have been fighting to trade up and take him No. 1 overall.
All the pub on Tebow is so glowingly positive, you feel like he's the kind of guy his teammates must hate, or at least resent. But they don't. Cleveland cornerback Joe Haden, asked about his former University of Florida teammate Thursday night after he (Haden) was picked but before Tebow was, burst into a smile.
"Hopefully he goes as early as possible," Haden said. "He's just a great kid, loves to play the game, knows how to play the game and he wins everywhere he goes, so I don't know why nobody would pick him."
You can want to hate Tebow because everybody seems so quick to love him, but if that's the way you feel, then you haven't met him. Sorry to tell the skeptics (of which I was one just a few days ago), but the hype holds up. Whether you agree with him on religion or abortion or even if you're the kind of person who winces when somebody ends every conversation with "God bless," you can't argue with the kid's presence. You come away impressed.
And so, what the Broncos have done is taken a chance on a guy because of the positive aspects of his character. It's a counter-culture decision. Way too often, teams take chances on guys in spite of the negative aspects of their character. The Broncos are gambling that the good things about Tebow -- his demeanor, his leadership qualities, his athleticism and strength -- will help them develop and mold him into an NFL quarterback. Josh McDaniels is betting that he and his coaches can correct the few things that are wrong with Tebow as an NFL prospect and let the things that made him a collegiate star shine through.
And it's a gamble. Tebow might never make it, and if he doesn't, the Broncos are out a first-round pick -- one they traded up to get, no less. But good for them for taking it. In a time when we see Kobe Bryant cheered in L.A., Tiger Woods feted at Augusta and Ben Roethlisberger smirk his way around trouble on technicalities, what the Broncos did on Thursday night was downright refreshing.
It's easy to hope it works out for them.