Too Big For His Britches

TebowGQLast year this time, I was hoping that he would be long gone by now, but the boy just couldn’t take a hint. You know, that boy: Captain America, Jim Thorpe and Billy Graham all rolled into one.

I was hoping that he would be safely tucked away on the sideline of some 2nd tier NFL team, doing whatever it is that former triple option quarterbacks do in the NFL (Hint: think headset and clipboard). Well, hope can do a lot of things, but it’s not going to stop Tim Tebow when he starts churning those Sequoia Tree trunk-sized legs of his for yet another run up the middle, and it’ll make little difference on 3rd and 5 when he flings a laser-guided cruise missile that comes screaming in, low to the ground, just past the outstretched fingertips of a cornerback and into the hands of a diving teammate.

No, there is only one thing that will stop Tim Tebow, and it’s not hope and good intentions, nor is it a Kryptonite-laced virgin daiquiri. More on exactly what that might be in a moment.

But first, let me say that when it comes to Tim Tebow, I am a conflicted man. I like the guy, I really do, and I’m sure I would be among the throng of True Believers if he had opted to don crimson instead of Gator blue. I’ve always said that if he had come to Alabama, that Mike Shula would still have a job there. That might be a good thing or a bad thing, depending on your perspective.  He’s a great player (THE GREATEST EVER? Meh. I don’t know about that. There’s been a lot of those) and perhaps an even greater person. From all indications, he backs the talk by walking the walk.

I know I’m taking my chances by panning Tebow even just a little bit (in The Bible Belt, it’s a little like admitting you voted for Barack Obama), but there is still just something that makes me a little uncomfortable about all the Tebow hype. I’ve expressed my misgivings before, both here and here. But I’ve tried to take it in stride, stay above the fray, and not resort to tawdry (and all too easy) Tebow-bashing. He’s just a kid, I tell myself. Granted, one that looks like a hypermasculine, cut-from-titanium, football cyborg, but a kid nonetheless.

It’s probably not so much an aversion to Tebow himself, and certainly not to what he stands for. We wear different colored jerseys on Saturday, but come Sunday I’d like to think we’re on the same team, albeit with a different style offense. Wearing scripture-inscribed eye black and pointing toward heaven every time I nail a refraction or stop a case of blindness dead in its tracks may not be my cup of tea, but who’s to say there’s not a place for that somewhere.

No, I think it’s  probably more a phobia of hype in general. Probably comes from all those times I’ve bought into some myself, only to get burned by a poor return on my money. It’s just hype, I tell myself. It’ll go away, like hype always does. Just batten down the hatches, hold on tight, and this too shall pass…

When I was a boy, my Mama (pardon the down-home colloquialism, but I’m trying to become a Southern writer after all, y’all) used to have a way of knocking me back down to size when I started riding my high horse. “Somebody’s gettin’ too big for his britches,” she’d say in that tone of hers. Those words were like the freight train just prior to a tornado–if you wanted to save your skin, better dive in a hallway closet and duck and cover. Even if you somehow managed to avoid one of her patented smacks-across-the-mouth, she could still shoot you down with one of her laser beam looks. Those were intense enough to burn your retinas if you looked her in the eye, but you never did because you had your head hung low and were on your knees, groveling for mercy.

It may be part my raisin’ (oops, there I go ag’in), and part disposition, but I have a hyperacute, pretension-detection meter wired into my skull, and last Saturday it started going off so loud during Senior Day at The Swamp that it made my head throb like a Geiger counter at Three Mile Island. I know I shouldn’t have watched it, that I should have just turned the blame thing off and walked away. But it was like crawling past a 6 car pile-up on I-65 with a dozen emergency vehicles in the median strip.  I just had to crane my neck like one of those pretty blue herons at Lake Guntersville and gawk.

It was that grandiose music that they piped in full blast over the loud speakers as Tebow ran onto the field that put me over the edge as much as anything. I don’t remember enough of my music appreciation class to tell you the name of it, but it seemed like something straight out of Aaron Copland, a Fanfare for The Uncommon Man, the kind of overwrought, arching, soaring, double-rainbow, fireworks-in-the-sky overture that should only be played when one is standing, eyes abrim with tears, before an awesome work of God, like the rim of The Grand Canyon at a burnt-orange sunset.

I watched all that, recognizing full well that Tim Tebow is a great player and probably an even greater person, that he deserved an appropriate sendoff on Senior Day, one commensurate with his long resume of awards and accomplishments, and yet I felt that he didn’t deserve that. Really, that nobody did. Except maybe Jesus. And only then after he rose from the dead.

It was at that moment that I felt that maybe Tim Tebow had become too big for his britches. I’m not suggesting that he scripted  any of that. I’m sure his handlers in the UF Athletic Department and the media gurus at CBS crafted The Grand Exit, right down to the choice of music and the color of the fireworks. But in that moment, things seem to shift, like the earth was wobbling just a little off its axis. I felt then, and I haven’t been able to shake it since no matter how much I’ve tried to talk myself out of it, that Bama is destined to win.

Some believe in Karma and some believe in The Lord and some in a pantheon of football gods–Rockne, Heisman, Robinson, and of course, The B’ar–but we all know that when things get unbalanced and out of alignment, unseen forces move in mysterious ways, righting what is tilted, mending what is torn, tearing down what has been built and lifted up.

But this is about more than cosmic justice. This is about winning the line of scrimmage, and there will be blood. I can tug on Superman’s cape until the cows come home, but ultimately the only thing that will stop Tim Tebow is a well-stuck tackle, like tick on hound dog. The only fool-proof missile defense system is to have a throng of burly, well-fed boys in his grill on every passing down, so that 3rd and 5 suddenly seems like 4th and 40 (and we do have some stout young men).  Lloyd Carr and the Wolverines proved 2 years ago that if you keep flashing that kind of kryptonite, Tim Tebow wilts just like the rest of us mortals. If they can do it, there’s no reason why we can’t either.

Enough with the hype already! I’m ready for some balance to be restored to college football. I’m ready for a return of the day when players were players and coaches were coaches, and neither stood there on the sideline, cheek to cheek, looking all doe-eyed at each other. I’m ready for some old school trench warfare, and may the best team win.

Tim, nothing personal brother, but I hope Bama beats the living heaven out of you. If I was of sound enough body and they’d toss me one of those crimson jerseys, I’d run out there and try to do it myself.

Roll Tide, Roll.

  1. That Girl

    I’m not normally a Tebow fan but I hadn’t seen that photo before either!  Dear Gussie!!!  I’m going to go back and read all those words you added now… I might find a bigger copy of that photo before I read.

  2. Mike the Eyeguy

    TG, just Google “Tebow, GQ” and you’ll find the full article. It was quite good, actually. The article that is, not the slide show.

  3. Jeff Slater

    Well said!  And I hope you’re right…..Roll Tide Roll!

  4. Greg "Stoogelover" England

    Amen! I’m not sure God really cares who wins football games, so I don’t pray about these things. But I do HOPE Bama can shut down the QB Gator-god.

  5. Eyegal

    Read your blog…it was good. 
    I liked it that you didn’t trash Tebow.  It’s in all our best interest if
    he holds up morally against all that hype.  Now, I’m not saying I want him
    to hold up against Bama…I’d love to see Bama win!  

    And that picture…my, my, my…he’s
    a kid? Yikes!

    love, me

  6. Mike the Eyeguy


    “My, my, my…” what exactly?

  7. Kristi Sweeney

    I want to not be skeptical of Tebow.  I really do.  So I’m trying to not be.  That being said, Roll Tide.  Cause if it can’t be Arkansas, it should be some team from the West that’s not LSU.  In fact, it should never be LSU.  

  8. JRB

    This may be off topic a bit, but do you know who I think is too big for its collective britches?  Notre Dame, that’s who. They seem inclined to decline a bowl invite because it would be embarrassing to play “in Mobile or Detroit” as one article I read said it.  I used to have a little sympathy, on behalf of my Catholic family in Indiana, but I think that’s a little tacky.  Oh yeah, Roll Tide. 

  9. Mike the Eyeguy

    Wow, I had heard the ND players were going to put it to a vote, but I hadn’t heard the outcome. I totally agree. You’ve got to man-up and eat your humble pie and play in the Detroits, Mobiles and Shreveports of the bowl world before you’ve earned the right to be back in The Show. Voice of experience.

  10. Charlie

    Thoughts from your Socialist Gator Friend…..If Tebow had left for the NFL after last year, the script would have ended perfectly and my admiration of him would have remained intact.  Tim has handled all the overexposure extremely well and seems to have remained true to his faith and team too.  For that he deserves enormous credit.  However, the OVEREXPOSURE has gotten to me too.  It started with revelations of Bob Tebow’s ministry which is extremely conservative (fundamentalist, creationist, intolerant?).  As a Catholic, the hair on my neck always rises when I read about fundamentalist preachers “bringing the gospel” to pagans in predominantly Catholic countries like the Phillipines.  Now I’m sure Rev Tebow has provided much needed help to the poor and I can get past the evangelism, but coupling this with the OVEREXPOSURE of Tim this year, and I’m very ready for the Tebow era to end.  Now to football.  UF has three running backs who average around 7-8 yards per carry and they each get the ball 6-7 times per game.  Meanwhile Tebow runs around 20 times per game.  Third and three is a great time for Tim to run, but first and ten?  This year, like two years ago, has been all about Tebow and Meyer has not utilized all of his talent very well.  Tim also has a tendency to hold the ball too long in the pocket.  His competitiveness and confidence doesn’t allow him to give up on a play too easily.  St. Nick has surely been watching.  Expect 5 sacks tomorrow.  If a few of those sacks result in fumbles, Alabama has an excellent chance of winning.I’ve proudly attended four SEC championship games wearing my Orange and Blue, but this year I find myself leaning toward my son’s school in this contest.  Hard to believe but I will join the Eyeguy in a “Roll Tide”.

  11. Mike the Eyeguy

    Dear Mr. Conflicted (aka Charlie):

    I hear ya, vis-a-vis “sheep stealing” from the Catholic Church. My church tradition has been known for that too from time to time.. In fact, they’ve been known to steal a few from the Baptist Church, too. I’ve never bought into that line of thinking either, so I understand completely how that could get on your nerves. 
    If Tebow withstands the kind of schemes that St. Nick and Kirby Smart have cooked up for him today, then I’ll tip my houndstooth fedora to him. And then I’ll bow my head in prayer, thankful that’ll he’ll be gone for good. RTR, Charlie, enjoy the game!
  12. Jennifer Baker

    There’s no crying in football!

  13. Jennifer Baker

    Roll Tide. 

  14. Mike the Eyeguy

    (Heb.)    (12:6)

    Within 2 weeks, TT will be testifying in church, using this same verse. Just you wait.
    As for the crying, I’m just going to do like Saban and McElroy and take a knee while I’ve got ’em on the run, not run up the score, and just let the clock run out.
    Roll Tide, indeed.
  15. Bill Cobbett

    Charlie, of course it would depend on what you mean by Socialist, as that term is flung around in the abstract enough to be completely meaningless, and for all I know you may being identifying yourself as Socialist because you like to be mysterious or subversive or any some such.  But so as the good readers of OF will not be scandalized:  Socialism has been consistently condemned by the Catholic Church for 200 years and is incompatible with Christian Truth (nor is Capitalism accepted unconditionally).  Now I don’t mean to judge, but in order for a Catholic to be in Christ he must believe all that the Church proposes as true and binding for Faith.  This is the necessary condition for salvation.  One accepts the message of the Apostles as a whole cloth or not at all, and since the Creeds declare the Church as Apostolic (and hence the authorized guardian of that message), then as any Catholic ought to know, the same applies to the proclamation of the Church.  It is wise to take great care in professing to disagree with the ordinary magisterium of the Catholic Church (it is in fact deadly for a Catholic), at least if one is Catholic in more than name only.  I love Tebow, and I love the heart the Tebow’s have for people.  I do have a measure of contempt for the form of Christianity they hold to but that is for another discussion.  Best, Bill

  16. Mike the Eyeguy

    Dear Bill,

    You are to be commended for your vigilance in sniffing out the socialists, heretics and other nefarious ne’er-do-wells who frequent Ocular Fusion. Surely, somewhere Senator McCarthy and Tomas de Torquemada are smiling!

    But my friend, you have not gone far enough. You see, Comrade Charlie is not only a socialist, but one of them thar’ Kommunists as well.

    In fact, so am I. And here is my manifesto: That Urban Meyer must share the wealth, and if he refuses, then we will take it from him.

    And that we have done. On to Pasadena. Long live the Crimson Revolution, and Roll Tide, Roll.

  17. Charlie

    Dear Bill,I think you took an idea from the word “Socialist” and ran a little too far with it.  Eyeguy started calling me that when I rationalized my rooting for UA by stating that UF had won enough and it was time to share the wealth.  This is the first time that I’ve ever been called insufficiently Catholic.  My kids won’t believe it!Charlie

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