I. Tebow and His Critic
According to Merril Hoge, Merril Hoge is a disturbed man. And it’s getting worse. He recently said, “The more I watched (Tebow), the more disturbed I was…” Why do critics like Merril Hoge have such an emotionally unstable response to Tim Tebow? Read the Tebow critics, and you’ll note among many — not just objective critiques — but bitterness, and an undercurrent of mania. Among such critics, Merril Hoge leads the way with a passive-aggressive style of irritating irrationality and veiled vitriol.
Mr. Hoge has pulled narry a punch (including low-blows) in attacking Tebow. Hoge is an example of how prejudice can cloud analysis. Blinding prejudice distorts his perception of Tim Tebow. Hoge is a man who makes small things big. He sports gigantic tie loops on ESPN’s SportsCenter. He also sports gigantic verbiage to condemn Tim Tebow, the sportsman, who is, by the way, the center of the SportsCenter. For Hoge, every minuscule mistake of Tebow is evidence of a fatal flaw: every interception, proof that Tebow is mentally incapable of throwing a completion; every stumble, an irrevocable fall. For Hoge, every pass — even a touchdown pass — is proof that Tebow can’t throw a touchdown pass. Every win is proof that Tebow can’t win: every loss, proof that he is a confirmed Loser.
Merrill Hoge should find a way to read Find A Way: Three Words That Changed My Life by Merrill Hoge (with Brent Cole). It’s an uplifting book by Merril Hoge (with Brent Cole) about how, even in the face of failure, it is possible to move on and succeed. I highly recommend it (as do others on Amazon.com). It is a stirring book. It will energize you, Mr. Hoge, and you (gentle reader) in the face of, and even after, profound loss. If you will only endeavor to ‘find a way,’ you will find success. Who knows? You might even write a book (with Brent Cole) that counsels others to persevere in hardship. You gotta read this book Mr. Hoge. Then, surely your perspective on Tebow will brighten. After all, is there a better model than Tim Tebow (apart from Merril Hoge, with Brent Cole) of a man overcoming adversity?
II. The Analyst Analyzed
Hoge has analyzed Tim Tebow with a merciless searing gaze. He’s questioned the mechanics of Tebow’s body, and even the maturity of his mind. But, be advised, according to Hoge, it’s nothing personal! Well, when does it become personal? At this point, I believe Hoge could back hand Tim Tebow’s mother, and he’d still protest, “Nothing personal.” One blogger examined Hoge’s Tweets on Tebow, and concluded:
Also, it needs to be said that the air of condescension is heavy within what Hoge said above. By capitalizing “FOOTBALL” as he did, Hoge was trying to stress (perhaps hide behind) the assumption that his criticisms are football related. It’s one thing to say it, but to unwaveringly cling to his position – relish it – as he did, that’s when it becomes personal and not just about football. Even in text form, his tweets were sopping with that “passion” (remember all those exclamation points?).
Be ready. Hoge, et al., respond to the accusations of personal attacks with, “I am an analyst. It is my job to analyze, without bias, the player.” Now, you can always tell when someone is trying to hide behind their position when they refuse to answer a charge, and use their ‘position’ to deflect blame. As if, their position renders them above the laws of mere mortals. If you spot a corrupt policeman breaking the law, what will he say, right away? “But I’m a policeman.” So what? The position of policeman doesn’t suddenly enable an individual to break the law. A man’s calling in life is not a hill for him to hide behind; it is a hill for him to defend. Hoge should respond to his critics, in a manly manner, by either, 1) Being a better analyst, or 2) Defending, rationally and thoughtfully, his words and actions. If Hoge were sincere, he’d defend his actions (or repent of them); he would not, as he does, claim that his position exempts him from having to defend his positions.
Well then, what is proper analysis? I’d like to hear Mr. Hoge’s definition. I think I already know it, and if I’m right, he’s wrong. An analyst is not, as he seems to believe, the all knowing all seeing eye who observes, and then mercilessly criticizes, mortal athletes. Analyzing sports, or anything else, amounts to finding the truth, and when appropriate, telling the truth. The best analyst can be trusted to convey accurate information. On this score, Mr. Hoge is not among the best analysts. So far, his predictions about Tebow have not borne out. (He famously tweeted ‘it’s embarrassing to think broncos could win with Tebow’). His truth-telling on quarterbacks has been especially untrustworthy (He favored Brian Brohm over Aaron Rogers.) Good analysis is about finding, then telling, the truth. Oh yeah, and this is very important. You gotta be sure of the truth before you can tell it. Then, you have to articulate the good reasons regarding why you know something to be true. In my experience, Mr. Hoge offers lots of opinions (which makes him a ‘personality,’ but no a trustworthy analyst. Actually, it may be Hoge’s thirst for status as a personality that impedes his ability as an analyst). Hoge offers opinions galore, but he is short on reasons why his opinions are true.
If you search him for a reason, Mr. Hoge’s fall back line is, “I watched tape.” He knows Tebow can never ever be a winner. How? He watched tape. He is now certain that Tebow has a low football IQ. Why? He watched tape. Apparently, watching tape is a mystical experience for Mr. Hoge. He is able to, while watching tape, transport himself inside the mind of Tim Tebow, see what he sees, and then determine his IQ. Think, Being John Malkovich if John Malkovich were an NFL player. I, for one, don’t believe anything special happens when Hoge watches tape. Watching the tape is the easy part; understanding and processing the tape is the important part. My friend Dave’s son (Jimmy) has seen The Lion King 100’s of times. He can quote every line. Mr. Hoge may be surprised to learn that Jimmy is now 11 years old, and still not a film critic.
So, ya watched tape? I don’t care. Don’t tell me about WHAT: what you did to arrive at a conclusion. Tell me WHY: why you arrived at that conclusion. Why? What evidence is there for your claim? And no, Mr. Hoge, an exclamation point is not in any way a piece of valid evidence. Fade To: Hoge in front of a Plasma TV; picture is paused, blurry; picture is coming into view; it’s Tebow! in throwing motion; key music; Annie Lennox singing, “Whyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy.”
And now, I present EXAMPLE A of Hoge’s inept analysis. Before the start of the 2011 season, Hoge proclaimed to the world via Twitter: “Sitting watching tape off bronco offense from last year! Orton or Tebow? It’s embarrassing to think the broncos could win with tebow!!”
Did Hoge watch tape, you ask? Darn skippy! He’s working extra hard. Merril Hoge was sitting watching (yep, sitting and watching at the same time!) tape with unparalleled enthusiasm, exclamation point. Even more impressive, he was apparently watching tape “off” (not of) the back of the bucking bronco offense. What did he see on that tape? Who knows? Who cares? The important thing is he watched it, and he SAW SOMETHING which only he as an analyst is able to see. After seeing this SOMETHING, he grew embarrassed, and soiled his trousers, because he was thinking about someone else thinking about winning with Tim Tebow! He was shamefaced, and his cheeks grew pink with abject humiliation over this ludicrous concept: winning with Tebow! He was so mortified the occasion demanded (in lieu of explanation of his points) two exclamation points!! Orton or Tebow? Tebow = embarrassing!! Wait!! Then, Orton went 1-4. oops, question mark, exclamation point. Then, Tebow went 8-5, double exclamation point, and led the Broncos to a first round win over the Steelers: the biggest win for the Broncos since 2005, triple exclamation point… Game. Set. Match.
So, Mr. Hoge? Embarrassing to think the Broncos could win with Tebow? If I were you, Mr. Hoge, I’d be embarrassed by that Tweet!! When will Mr. Hoge take credit for his failed prophecy punctuated by a double exclamation point? When will he provide explanation of his points that led to his erroneous exclamation points? At what point does this man lose credibility on the subject of Tebow? As a trustworthy analyst? After being wrong, exclamation point? No? What about after being wrong repeatedly with repeated exclamation points?
Next, I present EXAMPLE B. This example focuses on how Hoge is indeed guilty of personal attacks. (See what I’m doing here? I’m making claims, and then providing evidence. I’m doing what the ancient Romans called analyien). Recently, Hoge was faced with the daunting reality of Tebow’s impressive first full season as a starter. No problemo. No longer able to plausibly attack Tebow’s arm, he turned to Tebow’s mind.
Hoge asserted: “The more I studied him in an NFL setting, the more disturbed I was that he has no clue what he’s looking at… His IQ as a football player is not very good. That is why they have to come down and make it some of a college-form system that he’s comfortable with in Florida. He can’t execute, from a cerebral aspect, a pro-style system.”
Wow. Is it possible to say anything more personal, bitter, or insidious? Make no mistake. Merril Hoge is labeling Tim Tebow, in the immortal words of pop psychologist Charlie Murphy, “a functioning retard.”And he is doing so in a cowardly way: couching everything with wimpy distracting qualifiers (“in an NFL setting”; “as a football player”). Why so many qualifiers? Such qualifiers are an attempt to conceal the grievous fact that Hoge just called Tebow a “functioning retard.” Such qualifiers also make mild, with tricky convoluted clauses, Hoge’s vitriol against Tebow. Man up, Mr. Hoge, and quit hiding in the hole of hollow prose. Get rid of the girl scout qualifiers, and stand your ground. You believe Tim Tebow has a “not very good” IQ, period. Then, say so.
After all, if a man is deficient in the “cerebral aspect”… if a man can’t integrate a complex playbook… if a man has a low IQ for numbers and symbols… if a man has no clue what he is looking at on a football field… if a man cannot process advanced NFL concepts — then that man is mentally challenged, not just in the world of the NFL, but in The World, period. Let’s recast the above quote in big boy language. Let’s take out those impish qualifiers, and get down to the substantial claims. Here they are:
“The more I (Merrill Hoge) studied Tim Tebow, the more disturbed I was that he has no clue what he’s looking at. His IQ is not very good. He can’t execute from a cerebral aspect.”
“He has no clue… his IQ is not very good… He can’t (i.e. will never be able to).” Even if Tebow were the worst possible football player in history, it would still be detestable to say this. How can Hoge speak of another human being like this, and sleep at night? Again, make no mistake; Hoge’s words are just as damning as they sound. In Biblical parlance, Hoge is branding Tebow a fool: a hopeless dimwit who will never do or know better. This is a weighty condemnation. So weighty a condemnation that Jesus warned it would lead to condemnation: Anyone who says, “You fool” will be in danger of the fire of hell. In other words, when we say something that is just as damning as it sounds, we are not only damning another, we are damning ourselves. Much more is at stake than Hoge realizes. And not just the potential of hell-fire (as if that weren’t enough). What might Hoge’s hurtful words do, if taken to heart, to the spirit of Tim Tebow? You can literally destroy a man be telling him he’s a moron with “no clue,” and “that’s all he will ever be.” Plus, Hoge has an international forum on ESPN. How might his words impact a young man who is prone to demean his own intellect? You already know: such a man would conclude (if he trusted Hoge as his counselor), “I’m dumb, and that’s all I’ll ever be.”
Words are wild things when loosed from our lips. They get out into the world, and do a lot of things we can’t foresee. We may die, but our words live on, running all over creation, and working wonders, or disasters. Shakespeare was right: the evil that men do lives after them. Evil lives on, among other places, in the words we have cast into the world.
III. Distressed By A Disturbed Man
“The more I studied him in an NFL setting, the more disturbed I was…” Here, Hoge ridicules Tebow for cerebral failings with a hilarious malapropism. So, he was “disturbed” while watching Tebow? I wonder if Mr. Hoge knows that “disturbed” means “afflicted with anxious uneasiness; emotionally unstable; showing emotional illness; affected with madness” — it doesn’t mean, as he seems to think, “distressed.” i.e., the sane man is (occasionally) distressed; the disturbed man is insane. Indeed, a great source of distress for the sane man is the disturbed man. The sane man is distressed by the actions a disturbed man because the actions of a disturbed man are insane.
Now, if we follow Hoge’s diction without discretion we’d conclude that he becomes emotionally unstable, and temporarily insane, when he beholds Tebow flinging a football. He is, sadly, a disturbed man. This is what his words, as they stand, literally mean. There may be some truth to this literal interpretation. I am certainly distressed by this self-titled disturbed man. So, let’s consider, for a moment, that in choosing the wrong word Hoge inadvertently chose the right one. Let’s slip Hoge a Freudian slip.
Hoge does become emotionally unstable after prolonged glances at Tebow; such glances render him temporarily insane. Voila, Hoge’s insensible pronouncements about Tebow make sense! The disturbance is not with Tebow; it is in Hoge: he loses his mind and rationality, for some reason, when Tim Tebow strides across the plasma screen. In such moments, Hoge’s unruly emotions take over, and he’s left at their mercy. No wonder an undercurrent of bitterness marks his approach to Tebow. In those moments of madness, emotions like cruel disdain run amok, and Hoge can’t help but hurl insults like, “Blasted Tebow! He has no clue, and a not good IQ.”
You must understand, in such moments, Hoge is not capable of evaluating events, or talent. Hence, in such moments, he makes wildly inaccurate statements like, “If the Broncos start Tebow they cannot under any circumstances win.” It’s understandable that Hoge has been so often so wrong about Tebow. After all, the mere sight of Tebow causes him to spin in a black hole of madness. Now, if Hoge meant to say that, when he watches Tim Tebow, he mysteriously morphs into a mad man, and says things he should not say — I truly pity him. Even more, I sympathize with and admire him. Such a confession demonstrates humility, and a sense of one’s own shortcomings. Such a confession demonstrates a growing self-awareness, “I am the problem (not Tebow, or anyone else).” Such a confession would break the chains of the prison of self, and mark the first step toward freedom. Aye, such a confession would mark the first step toward sanity.
How I wish Hoge had meant to say what he did not mean to say! But, I’m guessing Hoge would rather erase the word disturbed, and type in, “distressed.” I’m even guessing that, when he reads this, he’ll say: “You are grossly mistaken. You have no clue. I’m not the least bit disturbed. I’m not the least bit bitter toward Tebow. My pronouncements are not wild and inaccurate! How dare you say I’m wrong. I’m never wrong!” To which, I reply: a mad man is never wrong; the mad man is the only man who is never wrong. The mad man believes in and believes himself, and no one else. Yep, I’m guessing that when Hoge reads this he’ll lump me in with Tebow as another dimwit. This is my guess. But I’ll tell you my hope. My hope is not that Hoge will declare, “I’ve been wrong!” My hope is, rather, that he will ask one simple question, “Is it possible I’ve been wrong?”Now, let’s assume the counter case, the much more likely case. Let’s assume Hoge would replace the word “disturbed” with “distressed.” That means he meant to call Tim Tebow a mental midget, while casting himself as the poor bystander, troubled in soul, because he had to gaze on such a doofus. In the former case, I pitied him; in the latter, I pity him more.
IV. Handicapping Grammar
Also, saith Hoge, with crushing condemnation, “(Tebow’s) IQ as a football player is not very good.” That grammar right thar is also not very good. “His IQ as a football player is not very good,” huh? Not very good…at what? Did you mean “high?” His IQ is not very high? Who knows. Many Hoge sentences are like this: a train wreck of intelligibility. “It’s embarrassing,” to quote Hoge, for someone (I won’t say who) to employ such bad grammar in assaulting another man’s intelligence. Oh, the irony. Mr. Hoge demeans Tebow’s intellect as handicapped with handicapped grammar. He labels his mind obtuse with obtuse prose. Try to read or listen to Mr. Hoge, but not in public (I am embarrassed to even think someone thinking about reading Hoge in public). You’ll find Mr. Hoge has the habit of fumbling — like a greasy football — the English language. E.B. White would rip Hoge’s convoluted passive weak kneed prose into a thousand pieces, and make him eat it for breakfast.
What if we treated Mr. Hoge to the same passive-aggressive derision he heaps on Tebow? It would go a little something like this…
V. An Examination Of The English Usage of Merril Hoge
I have just concluded my expert study into the mind of a man named Merrill Hoge who claims to be conversant in English. I have observed him without bias or compassion, like a buzzard eyeing carrion. I carefully studied Hoge, and know all there is to know, by sitting watching his past ESPN segments in super slow motion, and reading his Tweets on a Hi Def IPAD. I can only say, after I mercilessly scrutinized Hoge the communicator (not the person, or the man, or the personification of the man), I became sick to my stomach, and started retching uncontrollably. Then, I studied Hoge the conversationalist — oh, have mercy on me! Somebody please kill me. As I analyzed him like an insignificant insect under the all-seeing magnifying glass of my grammatical superiority, I was profoundly grieved to the point of despising life. As I parsed him like an irregular verb, underneath the onslaught of his irreligious diction, the world grew dark and sinister. I was shaken to my very core, and so distressed, I had to be hospitalized.
As an impartial judge, I offer my verdict on Mr. Hoge’s English usage. As a writer, from the English aspect, Hoge can’t execute. Adjectives end up executing him in the electric chair of Strunk’s Elements of Style. As a speaker, in the realm of Queen Elizabeth’s lingua franca, Mr. Hoge can’t elocute. This is not a mean spirited mean girl passive-aggressive personal jab: Hoge is a great man. His verbiage, on the other hand, is a great menace. Poor fellow. He just gets lost in logical connectors like a blind man lost in a maze without a map. Of course, even if he had a map, it would be useless. Blind men can’t read regular maps (Nothing personal! I’m not saying Hoge can’t read! I’m only saying he reminds me of a blind man who has a map he can’t read). In short, within the milieu of verbs and nouns being propelled from his tongue or pen in the vernacular of the peoples of the English speaking Isles, he stinketh.
Alas, when It comes to forming words meant to signify meaning en Anglais, on the level of non-mentally impaired adults, with elocution clear and precise… What was I saying? Oh yeah, Mr. Hoge has no clue; he is utterly, and completely, and totally, 100 percent, without a single clue: clueless. When he contemplates grammatical structure, he goes blind with bewilderment, and sucks his thumb. He does not know what he is seeing out there in the rough and tumble world of linguistics: he doesn’t know the difference between a gerund and a participle, and he never shall, not in a million years.
If there exists a grammar police, I beg someone to call them. Mr. Hoge would be convicted of high crimes against the English tongue. I saw Mr. Hoge massacre, with venomous rage, in cold blood, without remorse, innocent dependent clauses (I hope he knows this is a GRAMMAR issue, not a personal attack). I have seen him, in Shakespeare’s vineyard, frolicking like a mad man, and trampling upon the violets blue. I beheld him in a twitter, on Twitter, replacing the deficiency in the lengths of his logic with bawdy exclamation points; with mine own bedarkened eyes, I once witnessed him pile up exclamation points until they blotted out the stars above Whitman’s Beach At Night. Please. Somebody. Stop him. Before it’s too late. Words fly from his lilting lips like deranged feral bats, and cloud the bright Sun above the Earth (but he’s a good guy). I moan! I weep! Poor, wretched, imbecilic, Mr. Hoge. His English IQ is not very good, and it’s not very high either (but he’s smart in other ways that don’t require verbalizing).
Please remember: This is my unbiased independent judgment as a former editor, and expert on the English language. Don’t get mad at me, hold me accountable, or question what I say, or expect me to defend my position. I AM AN ANALYST. This is about ENGLISH, only. This is only an evaluation of Hoge’s usage (er, misusage) of ENGLISH. Hoge could likely express himself super duper in Italian, or Russian, or the Quendian of Tolkien’s Middle Earth — but he’ll never stay afloat on the troublesome high seas of the English ocean.
In light of the recent Scripps Spelling Bee, I also contrasted Hoge with other ESPN analysts, and weighed the question on everyone’s mind. Who’d be the better entry if adults were allowed to participate? Hoge or Bayless? This is not, unfortunately, a matter of choosing among the choice. Bayless is the only choice. He went to Vanderbilt, and turns a sentence like a Porsche turns a mountain pass. Hoge, on the other hand, does not know the difference between: “high” and “good”; or, “disturbed” and “distressed”; or even, “off,” and “of.” I’m abashed at the mere idea of entering Hoge into a competition which requires placing letters of the English alphabet in the correct order so as to spell a word. I am utterly shamefaced, with self-loathing humiliation, to even think about ESPN thinking about trying to win a spelling bee with Mr. Hoge. I am reduced to fits of self-flagellation when I ponder Mr. Hoge trying to spell guetapens.
What shall be done for poor, backward, hopeless, illiterate (only with regard to an English setting) Mr. Hoge. I weep for him when I behold his senile adverbs and depraved punctuation. He might prosper — might — if his superiors at ESPN would come down to his level, and provide him with appropriate aids like coloring books and blunt (not sharp!) crayons. Couldn’t ESPN simplify things to, say, beginner’s level English for foreign language students? He would certainly excel if he wasn’t presently saddled with the complex rules of pro-style English texts like St. Martin’s Handbook. No doubt, he’d earn gold stars if the head honchos at ESPN were satisfied with him conversing on the level of children in pre-K. Why? Why must this cruel world batter Mr. Hoge’s beleaguered nonverbal noggin with such riddles as subject-verb agreement?
VI. The Plays and The Player
The previous section is a parody of Mr. Hoge’s perspective on Tebow with Hoge on the receiving end of the treatment he doles out to Tebow. It’s my attempt to cook up, for Mr. Hoge, a taste of his own medicine. I call this concoction Condescension/ Passive-Aggressive/ Overstatement/Condemnation/Unkind Apple Pie. Mr. Hoge may not like the taste, but I promise, it’s nutritional. Now, parody aside, does Merril Hoge have a less than stellar mastery of English? Yes, he does. Do I believe this fact makes a mockery of his mockery of Tebow? Yes, I do. Questioning a man’s intellect in obtuse prose is, well, obtuse. But do I really believe Hoge can never be an effective communicator? No, I don’t. I believe Hoge can greatly reduce his fumbles of the English football, and score Shakespearean touchdowns. I hasten to add: I’ve read a little about Mr. Hoge, and I know he has encountered an uncommon array of hardships, including cancer. He’s pressed through hardships, and achieved an uncommon array of achievements. He’s been a pro athlete, and he’s now a well known figure on the World Wide Leader in sports. His life, on many counts, is admirable. I sincerely mean it when I say it is nothing personal. Sure, Hoge’s language skills need some work. But I know Mr. Hoge, if he so wishes, can become a superb writer and clear communicator.
Herein lies the difference between my critique of Hoge, and Hoge’s critique of Tebow. I believe Hoge is able, with work, to grow past his grammatical challenges. I wholly condemn the bad grammar, but not the man as wholly bad. I condemn the weak prose of Mr. Hoge, but I commend Mr. Hoge. I believe in Mr. Hoge. I believe he is stronger than his weak prose. Hoge, on the other hand, does not believe, in any universe, under any circumstances, that Tebow can overcome his challenges. He condemns the bad plays, and he condemns the player as bad. He condemns, not only the mistakes of the man, but the man himself, as a man of only mistakes.
This is all the more tragic because Merrill Hoge wrote a book (with Brent Cole) called Find a Way: Three Words That Changed My Life. The thesis of this book? You can, just like Merril (with Brent Cole), overcome any challenge as long as you are willing to persevere, and ‘find a way.’ Are you kidding me? Does Hoge believe his own book? I do. I believe Tebow can find a way to be a great quarterback. I believe Hoge can someday write a book without the professional assistance of Brent Cole. I even believe that, if he set himself to it, Merrill Hoge could be the next John C. Hodges. I believe he can ‘find a way,’ and I know, in that arduous journey, three words will change his life: Strunk and White. The question is: does Hoge believe in his own book? Does he believe it applies to Tim Tebow? Or, does this book apply to everyone in the world except Tim Tebow? Actually, I didn’t need to write a parody of Hoge. He is heckled by his own book.
VII. Intercepted by Hope
Back to football. Mr. Hoge, the more I listen to your studies of “the football setting,” the more I am distressed, and the more I truly believe you are correcto mundo when you term yourself ‘disturbed.’ So, you think Tebow is not mentally capable of executing a pro-style system? You doubt his mental ability to comprehend complex NFL scenarios, eh? That’s a pretty serious charge. How do you know this? Oh, ok — because, you watched tape and beheld Tebow throwing mind-boggling interceptions against the Bills. Apparently, you transported yourself inside his mind, and viewed the game from his (albeit moronic) perspective, and saw that he will never be able to comprehend an NFL defense. Guess what? He did throw interceptions against the Bills. In fact, he threw 9 interceptions in his first 23 games. Tell me, then, what think you Peyton Manning, and his football intelligence? He threw 30 interceptions in his first 23 games.
That’s right: Manning threw 3 times more interceptions than Tebow in the equivalent number of starts. Yet, Hoge never accused Manning of mental midgetry. The fact is: every quarterback, even the greats, throws occasional mind-boggling interceptions. Sometimes it’s the result of rookie blues. Young players have a learning curve. Cam Newton threw 17 interceptions in his first 16 games. I think that’s pretty good. Tebow threw 8 less interceptions in 6 more games. I think that’s terrific. Every quarterback throws the occasional pass which, even as he throws it, he wishes back. Montana did (139 career interceptions). Drew Brees does (pretty often, 146 in 11 seasons). Tom Brady does (He’s had 6 games with 4 interceptions). Eli Manning does (25 in 2010). Brett Favre did, lots (336 total). My point is: there’s no way to condemn the career of any quarterback based on a few, or even a slew, of bone-headed interceptions. And such interceptions surely do not prove a man a mental midget. Tebow may never be as great as any of the QB’s above. I’m just trying to demonstrate he’s not any worse. Especially, not worse for having thrown a few INT’s.
In saying all this, I am not saying that Tebow will definitely be the next Joe Montana. I am also not saying that he has the same level of natural talent as the great QB’s of history. His level of talent has been hotly debated, and I won’t enter that terrain here. I’ll simply note that, for whatever it is worth, he had enough talent, in his first full season, to lead a dismal team to an 8-5 record, and historic playoff victory. I don’t know how good he will be. Much depends on his health (many great quarterbacks are cut down before their prime by injury). Much depends on his desire. Much depends on the quality of coaching around him. I’m not saying we have conclusive evidence that proves he will be the next great QB. I am saying we have no evidence, as of yet, that proves he won’t. At this point, while the jury is still out, Hoge would declare Tebow guilty. I would declare him innocent until proven guilty. And, I would note some signs of a positive verdict. He is a hard worker (is there any more important trait?). He has knack for winning. His accuracy on the long ball is a strength. His leadership ability is exceptional. In short, it’s too soon for a verdict on Tebow, but it’s just the right time to be hopeful about his future.
I have shown that Tebow’s 9 interceptions do not disqualify him as a QB, nor prove him a simpleton. Why, then, is Hoge so skeptical of Tebow? Wherein lies the difference between Tebow and other young quarterbacks who make baffling blunders? Why is he so different than the rookie Manning, or Cam Newton.
Look closer, Mr. Hoge! Can you see the difference? Is it not plain as the gigantic loop in your tie? Still don’t see it? Then, look up, in the mirror. There’s no difference in these men. The difference lies in the way you see them. The difference lies in your eyes. If you looked less at Tebow, and more at yourself, you’d see even Tebow more clearly.
Take heart. I believe you can mature as a self-aware analyst. But then, I also believe that Tim Tebow can make a fine NFL quarterback. My faith in both circumstances has nothing to do with being fanciful. It has everything to do with being hopeful. The hopeful man is the true realist in the world. He sees men for what they may be because he sees that men may be something other than they are. Reality constrains us to confess that whatever a man is, he may change, grow, or even transform. Such things happen all the time. And so the blasphemer Saul became a preacher. When it comes to Tebow, who knows? Strange things have happened in the world, and are even now happening. Tim Tebow may grow into an excellent quarterback. I can’t guarantee he will. I can certainty hope he will.