There is magic happening in the National Football League this season that can brighten all of our lives. A quarterback, who has a quirky delivery and is built like a fullback, has engineered a series of fourth-quarter comebacks that defy belief. Against all odds, Tim Tebow has played at an almost supernatural level when the game is on the line. If this was a movie, it would be unvelievable.
I'll admit I was a skeptic. I have specialized in the representation of NFL quarterbacks for almost 40 years. There was a weekend where I represented half the starting quarterbacks on the field. My clients have been big, strong-armed physical specimens with rocket arms.
I watched Steve Bartkowski warm up in the L.A. Coliseum and launch the ball from one end zone to the other. I saw Drew Bledsoe carry Bruce Smith on his back and shake off the sack. I've seen Ben Roethlisberger lower his head and knock over tacklers.
Tim Tebow is a Munchkin next to the prototypical 6-foot-4 quarterback. He specialized in jump passes and running at Florida where he won the Heisman Trophy. His passes in the first three quarters of many games land in front or back of receivers. But I have never seen a quarterback with a more uncanny ability to elevate his level of play in the critical moments and will his teammates to elevate theirs. He is quite simply, a winner.
In last Sunday's game against the Chicago Bears, Tebow went two for 16 in the first half and the Broncos could not score. The sanity of the Denver coaching staff in leaving him on the field was in question. But along came the fourth quarter and it was "Tebow Time."
It was as if some celestial force wakened him from his slumber and energized him. Denver was down 10-0 and he led a long drive to make the score 10-7. With little time on the clock and extraordinary pressure, he worked his team to field position that would require a 59-yard field goal to tie. Matt Prater made the kick and forced the game into overtime.
Chicago got the ball first in overtime and marched it down in Denver territory for an almost certain field goal and an end to Tebow's charmed existence. But no, Chicago running back Marion Barber III fumbled and Denver got the ball back. Then Tebow drove the field to set up a 51-yard field goal, not an easy kick, but it sailed through the uprights for yet another improbable victory.
He rarely ran on these drives, his passing was accurate and efficient.
There has been significant antipathy to Tebow and his achievement. First, he defies the prototypical quarterback image and the amount of running he did in earlier games and the redesigned offense has made many football purists think of him as a short-lived gimmick. While it is true that he has taken teams by surprise and with an off-season they will design more effective defenses against him, he is improving week to week.
He hasn't had a game yet of consistent pin-point passing, but last week's game and his elevated fourth-quarter play show promise he can do it. He is in his first season of starting and when he develops pocket passing to go with his devestating running ability, watch out. My client Steve Young and Michael Vick are examples of young quarterbacks who ran as a first option while honing their passing skills. This is a must in the NFL because no quarterback can stay consistently injury free with too much pounding. Tebow knows how to win.
The second source of dissonance is resentment of his public testimonies to faith and the thought that he believes he is uniquely divinely inspired. Because there are players of faith on most athletic teams I have always believed God has more urgent duties than taking sides in an athletic conference. However watching Tebow, one does have to wonder.
This is a solidly Christian country with high church attendance. If you listen closely to Tebow he is advocating a faith that he feels the need to share, he doesn't claim uniqueness in godliness, he wants to spread the word to others. Why is that a bad thing?
Tim Tebow is an outstanding role model for young people in an era that has few untarnished heroes. He is a shining example of someone we would be happy if our daughter's brought home.
He exemplifies traditional values like faith, self-discipline, teamwork and courage under pressure. Amidst the collective depression that has followed the worst economy since the Great Depression, isn't it inspiring to have a young, enthusiastic, optomistic hero? He is 7-1 as a starter in a league many thought he didn't belong in.
He achieves greatness by a belief in himself and his teammates. Watching his roller-coaster performance has produced the most magic this side of Disneyland.
Tebow spreads happiness with his unique and thrilling ride.
Heartiest congratulations to the players and coaching staff of the CIF champion Corona del Mar High football team, which captured the Southern Division title in thrilling fashion last week.
What is especially stunning to me is how this tiniest of student bodies is able to compete at such an amazing level.
LEIGH STEINBERG is a renowned sports agent, author, advocate, speaker and humanitarian. His column appears weekly. Follow Leigh on Twitter @steinbergsports or blog.steinbergsports.com.