There are two types of good teammates. Gamers are guys who will do anything, at all costs, just to get a W. They refuse to let their locker room down, and will sacrifice their bodies, health, and pride for the betterment of the team. The second kind is the Good Samaritan. Good Samaritans are players that represent their franchise in an exemplary manner. They give back to the community and are extensions of their teams’ off-the-field product. It’s undeniable that Tim Tebow is a Good Samarian. By all accounts, the man has the heart of a saint. Is he, however, a Gamer?
Since he has turned pro, Tebow has seemed like a reluctant superstar. He does not shy away from the media—as excessive as the press has been—but he is not always forthright. By nature he is a friendly man, so he is always respectful to interviewers. For this he is generally rewarded with softened treatment.
[The Tim Tebow and Mark Sanchez battle: QB coaches stoke the fire]
It is hard to criticize a man’s work without speaking ill of his character. Tebow’s case is especially difficult because he has the constitution of an ox. Modern athletes are a brand—performance, appearance, philanthropy, etc. are symbiotic and make up players’ totality. One negative attribute taints the rest of the pool. Tim Tebow’s quarterbacking acumen has nothing to do with his altruism, but without the skills he becomes less mythic. Too much bad press damages the brand, which, in turn, hurts Tebow’s charities. Sportswriters are very careful to tread lightly and not disrupt the Tebow brand. Sadly, perception is reality.
In the wake of America’s newest wave of Tebowmania, I cannot stop thinking about how poorly Tim Tebow handles controversial, adverse press. Having been treated so delicately for much of his football—this includes high school and college—career, Tebow often deals with issues childishly.
Rather than personally explaining his reasons for choosing New York over Jacksonville, he has leaked information and fanned the flames of speculation. Maybe he was afraid of failure in his hometown and, reluctant to be a hero, chose a role he knew he could fill: good teammate. Only he wasn’t, at least not in Rex Ryan’s malignant locker room.
Currently, Tebow’s newest QB coach, Steve Clarkson, is touting his mentee’s new passing proficiency. He has gone so far as to say Tebow was “broken” and is now “fixed.” Clarkson is also spinning tales of sabotage by John Elway and the Broncos. By yet again abstaining from speaking, Tebow looks like a shy child. His inner circle is making him look like a paranoid reclamation product. Once again, Tebow appears caught between his quiet innocence and his desire to conquer the National Football League.
At what point does Tim Tebow owe it to his teammates to play any position the coaches ask? Up through this point in time he has steadfastly refused any position but QB—reluctantly playing special teams. There is nothing wrong with self-confidence. Hell, the best athletes thrive on it. But, at some point in time, the truly great teammates find a way onto the field. They don’t care about position or minutes, only the win/loss column. Tebow’s athleticism and potential are undeniable, yet they are undermined by his willed ignorance. At what point does Tebow’s struggle stop appearing genuine, and start looking like stubborn egotism.
Tim Tebow’s choices are difficult, exacerbated by his previous success in the league. However, not all people in life call their own shots. Some people cobble together all of their abilities and play the hand they’re dealt. Tebow may have to resign to providence and have faith a chance will come. In the meantime, he should set aside his dream and act in his team’s best interest. At the University of Florida he showcased his ability lead while out in front of a team. He has yet to prove the same leadership when not on center stage. He’s already a Good Samaritan. He must now sacrifice and become a Gamer. Become a truly great teammate.