- The Washington Times - Monday, August 15, 2011

There is no such thing as proportion when the topic is Tim Tebow. Discussions are neither reasonable, rational nor relative. Whether one believes in him or denigrates him, the arguments are always outsized, out-of-scope and over-the-top.

Tebow brought this on himself, of course, by fully embracing the role of living legend during four years at the University of Florida, before the Denver Broncos shocked pundits by making him a first-rounder in 2010. He could’ve shunned the mantle as he won two national titles and a Heisman Trophy. He could’ve kept his faith and his morals to himself.

But Tebow had to be himself, which means letting everyone know exactly where he stands, consequences be damned. Essentially he drew a line that separated him from everyone else - not in a better-than-thou sort of way, but a marked distinction nonetheless - and we’ve been picking sides ever since.

Along the way, we’ve had difficulty in keeping our opinions unencumbered. Thoughts on Tebow the Christian get mixed with Tebow the Quarterback. Tebow the Hyped is entangled with Tebow the Great Guy.

There’s no other explanation for the fascination with a second-year QB who started three games (winning one) for his 3-13 team. Otherwise, such a player would never have the league’s third-best selling jersey in 2010, right ahead of Peyton Manning and Tom Brady. He’d never have nearly 246,000 followers on Twitter, or 6,000 per each of his 41 career completions. And he’d never have countless media providing endless coverage to drive supporters and detractors into their respective camps.

Both were out in force for the Broncos‘ preseason opener last week, their appetites whet by a sequence of events that saw Denver keep QB Kyle Orton and list him No. 1 on the depth chart; Tebow reiterate his faith (in God and himself) that he’ll prevail to win the starting job; and a series of negative articles that condemned Tebow’s ability and suggested his religious pronouncements are inappropriate.

Being an outspoken Christian isn’t Tebow’s main problem. After all, former All-Pro QB Kurt Warner was never shy in expressing his beliefs and never experienced the same intense backlash. Then again, Warner was a prolific passer who won an MVP award while piloting “The Greatest Show on Turf.”

I suspect that folks on either side of the Tebow divide are unduly influenced by the hype machine. It’s what led the Broncos to choose him with the 25th pick, smitten by his high character and history of winning. But the hype machine also leads true believers to overlook obvious flaws in Tebow’s mechanics, accuracy, and pocket presence.

If you subtract all the intangibles that make Tebow an intriguing prospect, you’re left with someone who looks like a career backup, at best, who perhaps might get snaps for “Wildcat” plays to take advantage of his athleticism.He appears to be the latest in a long line of successful, run-oriented college quarterbacks whose games didn’t translate too well on Sundays.

But if you subtract all the nagging, tangible qualities associated with his position - basically, anything to do with passing, reading defenses and reacting quickly - you have an undeniably tough and charismatic leader who always has found a way to win.

Put it all together and you’ve got the anomaly that is Tim Tebow. He’s an outstanding young man, yet he’s widely mocked and despised. He’s a marginally talented pro prospect, yet he’s hailed as Denver’s savior and franchise QB.

The accelerant in this debate is religion, which along with race and politics forms our trinity of third-rail topics. Tebow isn’t a litmus test for faith in God and belief in Jesus Christ, but that won’t stop the saints and the aints from issuing grades.

If Tebow beats out Kyle Orton and Brady Quinn, and/or develops into a winning quarterback, it just proves that scouts and personnel executives and our own eyeballs can be wrong. If Tebow is relegated to a career on the sideline, holding clipboards and wearing caps, it just proves that being the nicest, most-devout guy with impeccable integrity isn’t enough alone.

But we’re talking about Tim Tebow.

Why let reason get in the way?