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Much too early to write off Tim Tebow

GAINESVILLE -- How harsh is the criticism about Tim Tebow these days? Even a Jacksonville Jaguars offensive lineman is calling out Florida's former quarterback. Here's what the Jags' Uche Nwaneri wrote recently on Jaguars.com after apparently becoming annoyed by so many friends and fans asking him if he's excited about the chance of Tebow being drafted by Jacksonville:

"1. He can't throw, PERIOD.
2. He can't read any coverage other than probably cover 2 or man.
3. The QB Wildcat WILL NOT WORK IN THIS LEAGUE. PERIOD.
4. He doesn't know how to take a snap from center.
5. HE CAN'T THROW, and that's really something you either have or not."

Nwaneri apparently wants out of Jacksonville Municipal Stadium faster than Georgia coach Mark Richt. Let's look beyond that, however, and focus on something interesting that Tebow might have to deal with when he first reports to rookie mini-camp this offseason. Not everyone is going to like him and, apparently, not everyone is going to even think that he deserves to be there. Initially, some pro football players might even resent Tebow. These opinions will not last. Let me explain.

Tebow is not a phony. He still seems pretty innocent. His perception of reality is slightly skewed about some things (that's to be expected) but it's not like his public image is much different than his actual personality. Sure, he likes MMA and stuff like that but whatever. (Mental note: Begin preparing Tebow-should-become-MMA-fighter blog if this whole football thing doesn't work out.) The point is this: NFL players are professionals and they're going to respect Tebow once he shows up and starts working.

As for Nwaneri's comments, let's run down the line:

1. Tebow can't throw, QUESTION MARK? Yes, Tebow can throw. It's not like his arm is weak. Anyone who says Tebow has a weak arm is wrong. It's simply not true. Anyone who says Tebow is not an accurate passer has no video evidence to prove that statement. I've watched Tebow play quarterback for the last four years. He's accurate. And what the heck does this offensive lineman know? He's an offensive lineman. He blocks defensive lineman and linebackers.

2. Everyone says Tebow can't read defenses. I've even had reporters who know nothing about football or quarterbacking or defenses try and tell me this. This is absurd. Tebow started in the Southeastern Conference for three years. His interceptions totals were always the lowest in the league. His efficiency rating was always the highest. Tebow can read defenses. People act like reading defenses is a hard thing. My 10-year-old kid reads defenses on EA Sports and has the mental capacity to audible at the line of scrimmage. I realize this is a ridiculous comparision, but that's the point. You're telling me Tim Tebow, who watches countless hours of tape and lives for football like no one else, can't read a defense? Wrong.

3. The Wildcat does work in the NFL. Teams have already proven this. If anything, the Wildcat will be a good way for Tebow to acclimate himself to the speed of the game his first one or two seasons in the league as a back-up.

4. Come on, seriously? Taking a snap from center? Next.

5. We've already established the fact that Tebow CAN THROW. If anything, he CAN THROW despite his atypical throwing motion. Just think what he'll be like once he gets that cleaned up a little bit. And don't try to tell me that Tebow can't correct whatever is wrong with his arm motion. I'm not buying it. I'm not even convinced it's really that big of a problem.

And what's this about Joe Theismann saying Tebow should quit football? What a goob.

It's much too early to write off Tebow based on one or two bad practices at the Senior Bowl, a couple fumbles in the game and the constant vomit flowing from the front of Todd McShay's face. Here's what I love about the good folks of ESPN. They've made a ton of cash flashing Tim Tebow's face on television screens over the years. It started in high school, when the network dubbed Tebow "The Chosen One." It continued through college, when ESPN seemingly camped out in Gainesville. ESPN helped Tebow win a Heisman in 2007. The network had exclusive one-on-one access to Tebow in 2008 and 2009.

In 2010, ESPN has changed up it's coverage ever so slightly. Still plenty of Tim Tebow, but now the network is making money by telling people how Tebow will fail in the NFL. Gator Clause was in Mobile for the Senior Bowl. It was like everyone who has ever covered Tebow was waiting for him to mess up so they could finally write something critical about the guy. There's nothing wrong with being critical, but let's be realistic. It was the Senior Bowl and Tebow was sick for most of the week. You think every single GM, coach and scout in the league is going to hold that against him? No.

And now some advice for Tim Tebow
Tebow needs to change some things in the next few months in order to transition smoothly into the NFL. These changes don't have anything to do with his throwing motion or five-step drop. They have to do with his family and the people surrounding him. Bob Tebow, Pam Tebow, Brothers Tebow and all the other people hovering around Tim Tebow need to take a step back. Take two steps back. You know what, just go away. Leave this kid alone. Don't show up in public with him. (OK, Brothers Tebow seem to be OK. But lose the camera crew, for crying out loud! More on that in a second). For now, no more orphanages or hospital visits. No more speaking engagements at churches or universities or Charlie Crist fundraisers (that last one is just me getting carried away). No more Super Bowl commercials! Seriously, a Super Bowl commercial? About pretty much the most controversial thing in our society? Right during the Super Bowl? Right before the Combine? Right before the Draft? Stupid. Not stupid that Tebow is taking a stand. I congratulate him on that -- Hooray! A high-profile athlete who isn't afraid to share his opinions! -- and hope he's a role model for other athletes. It's just poor timing, in my opinion. Too much pressure. Too much of a distraction. Make that commercial next year.

You know what else is a bit odd? That "documentary" crew that was following around Tebow at the Senior Bowl. The crew has been following Tebow since the end of the Sugar Bowl. You know who is directing this "documentary?" Chase Heavener, the son of Bill Heavener, whose name is on the side of the UF football complex. This is not helping Tebow, guys. It's counterproductive.

But you know what's worse? Bob Tebow allowing ... no, allowing would be the wrong word. You know what's worse? Bob Tebow wanting this "documentary" to be made right now, at this very important time in Tim Tebow's professional career. Bill Heavener is a family friend of the Tebows and yada, yada, yada. He donates plenty of cash to the Bob Tebow Evangelistic (apparently, soon to be Tele-Evangelistic) Association. I understand the obligation to the Heaveners and the opportunity to spread the Tebows' message and help people. That's great. But not right now. Again, let me be perfectly clear about my description of what is happening. A "documentary" crew is following around Tebow like he's some kind of reality-show celebrity. The film team hovered around Tebow the entire time at the Senior Bowl. How can Tebow earn respect from NFL coaches, GMs and players with that nonsense taking place? Tebow is no phony. You remember me writing that at the beginning of this post, right? Tim, here's some advice. No more "documentary" crew, no more favors to friends, no more anything except football until you actually do something in the NFL. Tebow is going to have dozens of media obligations in the coming months. He doesn't need an in-house film crew documenting his every move as he prepares for the NFL.

The Tebows' non-profit organization is a family affair. I get that. It's great that the Bob Tebow Evangelistic Association is benefiting from Tim Tebow's success. It really is and I'm not being sarcastic. Anything to help orphans is great. Make 100 "documentaries" if it's going to help orphans, but for now, the Tebows need to step back and give their son some space to develop professionally. Bob Tebow needs to stop being his son's shadow. He did it for four years at Florida and that's fine, but Tim Tebow is a professional now and needs to be treated like one. Bob Tebow doesn't need to be a part of the story any longer. After all, he's got Tim. But give Tebow some time to himself to improve his game. Let me be clear. The Tebows do great work and the Tebows are great people. The intentions are good and for all the right reasons, but the people close to Tim Tebow need to remove themselves from the process and limit the clutter and distractions at this very important stage in Tim Tebow's professional career.

Of course, these are just my opinions. I could be way off. Being surrounded by a loving family like the Tebows is never a bad thing, of course. I just think Tebow needs to focus all his time and energy into preparing for the Draft. Love to see McShay and Mel Kiper Jr. eat crow the first day of the Draft.

-jo-

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