Perception, Reality & Lies in the Tebow/Manning Saga

Ever since the story broke that Peyton Manning would visit with John Elway, John Fox and the Denver Broncos, speculation has run rampant regarding the future of Tim Tebow. Although Manning, arguably one of the best quarterbacks to ever play the game, continues on his multi-city “listening” tour and has yet to make a decision as to which NFL team will be “blessed” with his services, some in the Denver media have already pronounced Tebowmania dead, killed at the hands of Peyton Manning and John Elway. Tim Tebow’s time maybe up in Denver, but it will not be Peyton Manning’s fault.

Manning, after playing his entire career with the Indianapolis Colts, was inexplicably let go in advance of what is expected to be their drafting of highly touted Andrew Luck, the Stanford quarterback who has played in one of the most pitiful “bigtime” conferences and who wouldn’t know how to win a game played against the worst that the Southeastern Conference has to offer. Good luck with that. With Tony Dungy and Peyton Manning both gone, there is no good reason to root for the Colts. And, with an owner like Jim Irsay, there’s every reason in the world to root against the Colts. When the Patriots look good in comparison (owner Bob Kraft is a class act), I think I shall return to pulling for the professional football franchises in my home state of Florida.

Granted, I was excited that Tim Tebow was drafted by the Denver Broncos. As a long-time FSU Seminole fan, I married into a Gator family, but it wasn’t until Tim Tebow was the starting quarterback for the University of Florida that I finally began to pull for the Gators even when they played my Seminoles. There is just something about the way that Tim Tebow conducts himself — both on and off the field — that inspires people to follow him. Well, at least some people. Apparently John Elway is not similarly inspired.

In fact, the perception — which may or may not be the reality — is that John Elway has never liked “Timmy.” From the clearly pained expressions on Elway’s face, even when Tebow was bringing the Broncos back in fourth quarter heroics, to the backhanded compliments, it would be a stretch to say that John Elway was sold on Tebow. As was often the case with John Elway’s comments regarding Tebow, “Damning with faint praise,” comes to mind.

With a quarterback that led the Broncos to win their division and beat the Pittsburgh Steelers in stunning fashion in overtime in the first round of the playoffs, you would think that Elway would connect with the competitive — if raw and unpolished — spirit of Tim Tebow. One thing that is not in question with Tim Tebow is his will to compete and to get better. The other quality that Tim Tebow possesses is a Christian character that not only “talks the talk, but walks the walk.” For that he has been vilified, even as miscreants and “reformed” dog killers are given glory and honor in the NFL. As the saga in Denver drags into its second week, it is becoming more apparent that the reason — whether perceived or real — that John Elway does not connect with Tim Tebow may have more to do with character — or lack thereof — than with competetive spirit.

There’s no question that the National Football League is a business. But, just because something is a business does not mean that ethics, common courtesy, and simple decency should be absent. Perhaps all three of those ideals are abundant in spades behind the scenes even as the very public spectacle of the chase for Peyton Manning plays itself out in Denver. But, if that were the case, why the complete silence from Elway and company regarding their “starting” quarterback? I can certainly understand Tim’s silence in the matter. It’s been reported that Tebow is “philisophical” about the situation, which maybe a nice way to say that he is not happy, but that he knows that “all things work together for the good of those who love God and are the called according to His purpose.” In the end, Tim Tebow understands that football is not his life, but is just a game. As much as he wants to play in the NFL, God is in control of his life and God is in control of the situation at Dove Valley, whether Mr. Elway realizes it or not. But, that’s a philosophy that John Elway may not comprehend and, therein lies the problem.

When John Elway says things like:

“Well, I think Tim’s earned the right to be the starting quarterback going into training camp next year,”

I want to “help Tim in every way I can, to be able to improve through what I learned.”

“Hopefully, I can teach him what I learned over my 16-year career, to be able to tell him what I learned in Year 10, hopefully get that to him in year 3 or 4.”

“we’re so hopeful that Tim’s that guy. Obviously, we have some work to do and he knows that, too.”

he must have different definitions for “earned the right,” “help,” “every way I can,” “teach him,” and “hopeful.” If not, then there’s only one other possible explanation for why John Elway said what he said in January. That explanation is not one that would be easy to overlook if you are Tim Tebow or any other Christian athlete who puts stock in the phrase, “My word is my bond.” Maybe with Elway and the Denver Broncos, we should remember Ronald Reagan’s maxim, “Trust, but verify.” 

If the words that John Elway spoke in January are not consistent with truth or reality in March, then it will be difficult for Tim Tebow — whether or not Peyton Manning signs with the Broncos — to continue to work for someone who appears to have verifiably broken trust, not once, but on multiple occasions, the last of which could be paraphrased using the immortal words of Jackie Chiles, “This is the most public yet of Tim’s many humiliations.”

If John Elway and the Denver Broncos’ organization are this brazen in public, one can only imagine the humiliations — direct and indirect — that Tim has had to endure in the last two years in private. No other quarterback drafted in the first round has been subjected to the scrutiny of Tim Tebow. And, it seems that no other first round quarterback who has won two National Championships and the Heisman Trophy has been treated as shabbily by the team that drafted him. Even Jamarcus Russell fared better with the Oakland Raiders. A team should realize they are ethically challenged when the Raiders make them look bad by comparison.

Regardless of what happens with the Tim Tebow/Peyton Manning saga, Tim will be okay. In fact, he will be more than okay. After all, when followers of Christ are treated contemptibly by the world, Jesus says that they’re blessed. So, whether in Denver or Jacksonville, here’s to Tim hearing Jesus say, “Blessed, Makarios, WooHoo!”  And, Jesus always keeps His promises. That’s more than I can ever say for John Elway!


7 comments for “Perception, Reality & Lies in the Tebow/Manning Saga

  1. Sam Morgan
    March 13, 2012 at 8:52 AM

    Once again, another great post. Thanks for keeping us up to date on Tim and his mania. We didn’t get to watch much football since we cancelled our cable after FPU. You left out the part about dating Taylor Swift, though. I’m excited to watch Tebow no matter what team he plays for, and if he is traded I hope that team beats Denver! God Bless.

  2. March 14, 2012 at 12:54 PM

    Another great post. Guess Manning is in south beach this week checking out my Dolphins. Where ever Tim Tebow plays, I’ll be a fan. I wasnt a Denver fan until Tim signed.
    God Bless

    • March 14, 2012 at 7:37 PM


      Hope things are going well with you. Are you still in Zolpho Springs? My mom asks from time to time if I have heard from you on my blog or Facebook. I will have to tell her that I have. If Manning were to go to the Dolphins, that would give me a reason to root for them again. It’s been hard after Don Shula left. As for Denver, I think that Tebow — regardless if Manning is there or not — will be gone. It’s hard to play for someone who seems to be less than truthful, even if it’s “just a business.” Thanks for reading. Hope you have a great rest of your week. God bless,


  3. Job
    March 19, 2012 at 2:58 PM

    Pastor Scott:

    I have to make some rejoinders. The only issue between John Elway and Tim Tebow is that Elway does not believe that Tim Tebow will be a successful NFL QB. Elway is not alone in feeling this way. Sure, Tebow was a 1st round pick but make no mistake: 24 teams passed on the chance to draft him, and 7 more passed up the opportunity to trade up to get him. Even that is not the main issue. Instead, it is that even Josh McDaniels, the fellow who did make the decision to draft Tebow, did so with the intention of having Tebow spend at least 3 years – possibly more – on the bench because he felt that it would take that long before Tebow could be an effective NFL QB. (McDaniels abandoned that plan not because of Tebow’s faster than expected progress, but as a desperation tactic because the team was losing and he was attempting to save his job.)

    So even the person who drafted Tebow didn’t believe that Tebow would immediately or quickly become an effective NFL QB. The only difference between Elway and McDaniels is that Elway either doesn’t believe that Tebow will ever become an effective NFL QB, or at the very least isn’t interested in waiting for Tebow to become one. But make no mistake: had things gone according to the plan of even the fellow that drafted Tebow in Denver, Kyle Orton would still be the starting QB and Tebow would still be on the bench.

    That reality – that even the 1 guy who was willing to make such an investment in Tebow didn’t believe that the investment would pay off by now – is why Tebow fans should really refrain from claiming – or insinuating – that negative opinions concerning Tebow’s ability to play QB in the NFL are motivated by anything other than legitimate questions about Tebow’s play. Tebow was a star in college, but in an offense that doesn’t translate to the NFL, and moreover all the guys who had excellent careers in that same offense – Vince Young, Alex Smith, Pat White, Troy Smith, Dennis Dixon, Colt McCoy, Michael Bishop and David Garrard are examples – have failed to become superior NFL QBs.

    That college offense is not Tebow’s sole problem. His main problem, actually, is a terrible throwing motion that – unless it is corrected – will keep him from not only ever being an accurate passer, but will limit the types of passes that he will even be able to attempt at all (Denver didn’t even try to have Tebow throw certain routes or to some areas of the field last season). Tebow’s throwing motion wasn’t an issue at Florida because Urban Meyer and Dan Mullen not only did not run a pro-style passing offense, but simplified the passing game that they did have for Tebow. (They did many more things in the passing game with Chris Leak at Florida, and before that Alex Smith at Utah and Josh Harris at Bowling Green). Even in that offense, they were only able to get away with that vanilla passing game because of very talented WRs. Percy Harvin, Andre Caldwell, Louis Murphy, David Nelson, Riley Cooper and Aaron Hernandez are all in the NFL and many of them start. It is very fair to say that Tim Tebow had better WRs while at Florida than some NFL teams do.

    Unless Tebow can fix his throwing motion, he will never lead another team to the playoffs, because NFL teams will quickly adapt to the unusual things that Denver did to win games last year that kept Tebow from having to make the sorts of throws all season that successful NFL QBs have to make over a dozen times in a single game. And again that is merely the throwing motion. The zone-read option QBs that came before Tebow had good throwing motions – or at least much better ones than Tebow – and still failed.

    What basis is there for Elway to believe that Tebow will make the sort of drastic improvement required to become an above average QB – as good as Matt Ryan or Joe Flacco for instance, let alone an Eli Manning or Aaron Rodgers – and do it quickly? (Go back to what was stated earlier: not even the fellow who drafted Tebow believed that it would happen.) If your answer is Tebow’s faith, while Elway may not share that faith, he most certainly knows enough about it to know that this faith does not promise success as an NFL athlete. First off, Tim Tebow will be the first to say so regarding himself. Second Elway knows first hand from his long career in the NFL that plenty of evangelicals who “not only talked the talk but walked the walk” didn’t become good NFL players, with QBs among them. An example: Elway’s own former Denver Broncos teammate Tommy Maddox, a member of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, 1st round draft pick, runs his own Christian charity, but a terrible NFL QB.

    So why make the statements in support of Tebow if he didn’t believe that Tebow can play? First, leaders of sports teams make them all the time, and they’re almost always meaningless. There is even sort of a joke about it, called “the dreaded vote of confidence”, because often when a team owner or executive makes a public statement of backing a player or coach, that player or coach is released, traded or fired shortly thereafter! Second, Elway had no desire to commit to Tebow, publicly or otherwise. He only did so to end the frenzied controversy driven by Tebow’s fans (precious few of whom are actually Denver fans) who had a delusional belief that they could use a public pressure campaign to force Elway into making a commitment to a player that he didn’t want. Elway said what was necessary to end the controversy – which had gotten past the point of being a destructive distraction – but the tactics of Tebow’s fans only made him even more determined to ship the guy out of town than he already was. That’s the irony of the whole thing. Tebow has 3 years left on a contract that is very affordable for the Broncos. Under normal circumstances, Elway would have been more than happy to let Tebow sit behind Manning for a year or two and then check his progress. Tebow’s fans attempting to bully Elway – who by the way has the responsibility of building a winning team, and if he fails he’ll get fired just as the guy who drafted Tebow did – did nothing but make Elway absolutely determined to rid himself of Tebow as soon as possible. And again, Elway is not the only one who felt this way. Kyle Orton and Brady Quinn, the other QBs on the team and who were ahead of Tebow on the depth cart, were incensed that Tebow got the starting job as the result of a public pressure campaign that made all of their hard work on the practice field and in preseason irrelevant. Brandon Lloyd, the team’s best WR and a close friend of Orton’s, made his negative feelings about the events known publicly, resulting in a situation so toxic that the team had no choice but to trade him for far less than what he was worth. (Orton and Quinn’s feelings became publicly known after they left Denver.) Both Orton and Quinn were particularly angry about the apparent hypocrisy of Tebow’s willingness to be considered a high character Christian on one hand while benefiting from the very divisive, destructive campaign from his fans on the other. Other QBs in similar situations have instructed their fans to pipe down and made statements of support for the starting QB; Tebow did neither. Tebow’s silence similar to how Michael Vick handled his situation with the Atlanta Falcons. Vick was happy to stay silent and benefit from the results of his fans pressuring the Falcon coaches to bench then-starter Chris Chandler.

    There are a lot of facts regarding the Tebow situation in Denver that Tebow’s fans won’t acknowledge because of their inconvenience. It really would be better if they were, especially if Tebow’s fans are going to claim – or imply – that the animus against Tebow is due to his faith.

    • March 19, 2012 at 4:20 PM


      To compare Tebow’s silence to that of a reformed dog killer (Vick) is a blow below the belt 🙂 Your defense of Elway and the Broncos is of course the standard one given by those who are less than enamored with Tim Tebow. I won’t call you a hater, since you probably would like Tebow the person, a young man with tremendous character and faith. However, it is quite clear that you do not like Tebow the football player. You maybe entirely correct that Tim Tebow will be a bust in the NFL. I would tend to agree with you IF he had been given the full backing of coaches and management and he would have had off-seasons and a few full seasons under his belt and still came up empty. But, that has not happened so I am not at all willing to concede that Tebow will not make it as an NFL quarterback. To say that Tebow does not know how to pass or to pass accurately is to have bought into the myth that he did not pass much at Florida. In fact, his passing completion percentage was near 70% and he held all of the major SEC passing titles.

      Why Tebow has been held to a different standard seems to be fairly obvious. I would think that Christians would be able to see that. I have no doubt that his outspoken faith has caused some, including the Broncos and John Elway, to view Tebow negatively. Again, his football skills, after a reasonable amount of time, may prove to be lacking as well, but I’m not ready to write off Tebow the football player or Tebow the man any time soon. As for Denver and John Elway, I think it’s obvious that they never had any faith in Tebow and wanted him gone, but did not have the guts to tell him he was not welcome in Denver. As long as he was winning and bringing in money (Tebow is a cash cow), then the Broncos would reap the rewards. Although I am saddened at the turn of events, I hope that Tebow lands on a team that will appreciate him as a player and as a person. I, for one, can’t wait to see how God uses Tim Tebow — maybe even with the NE Patriots — to bring honor and glory to Himself. Thanks for your perspective. God bless,


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