I Haven’t Left!

For those of you used to my regular posts from this summer, sorry I haven’t been around here too much. My work at Bengals 101 and Colts 101 has been pretty consuming.

Make sure you stop over and get the latest Bengals and Colts coverage. If you haven’t yet, get over to our parent site, Sports Media 101 for all the best sports coverage. We’re still looking for some writers too. Contact me if you’re interested in representing a team not yet covered at SM101. As always, thanks for the support.

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Media and NFL Should Emulate Tebow’s Example

Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow has been on the receiving end of some pretty incredible criticism since entering the NFL. Critics such as ESPN’s Merril Hoge have called him “embarrassing” and have insisted that he “can’t play” in the NFL. After yesterday’s 45-10 mauling at the hands of the Detroit Lions, those voices have gotten louder. An unnamed Lions’ player called Tebow’s performance yesterday (18-39, 172 yards, 1 TD and 1 INT) “embarrassing” and said that the “Tebow experiment is a joke.” Two Lions players mocked Tebow and his praying after Denver turnovers.

In over 40 years of watching football I’ve never heard this level of vitriol directed toward an individual player, especially not a player like Tim Tebow. Tebow won two national championships in college and a Heisman Trophy. Denver no doubt reached to select him in the first round, but that Tebow is on an NFL roster is no “joke.” That he’s getting a chance to start when his competitors for the job are the legendary Kyle Orton and Brady Quinn isn’t really all that surprising. So why all this extreme criticism.

Tebow’s numbers aren’t Hall of Fame material, but they hardly qualify for embarrassment. He’s played in all of 14 games for Denver, starting only five. In that time, he’s completed 76 of 158 passes for 1066 yards, nine TDs and only four interceptions. He’s also rushed for 5.6 yards per carry over that time for seven touchdowns. He’s lost one fumble. So who we have here is a second year pro with less than a half dozen starts under his belt who’s accounted for 16 TDs to 5 turnovers with a QB rating of 78.7. After yesterday’s loss, he’s 2-3 as a starter. These numbers won’t get the sculptors ready carving his bust for Canton, but neither do they warrant such outlandish and public criticism either.

Let’s take a closer look at some worthy comparisons to Tebow, quarterbacks who were much ballyhooed coming out of college (and thus subject to some inflation of their potential) who were, in hindsight, reaches for their teams. Akili Smith was selected third overall by the Bengals in 1999. Smith started 17 games for Cincinnati, throwing only 5 TDs and 13 interceptions. His QB rating was 52.8. Yet he started the better parts of three NFL seasons and was never subject to this type of criticism. Selected first overall that year by the Browns was Tim Couch. Couch started for all or part of five seasons with Cleveland with a career rating of 75.1. Never did he have a season with a QB rating as high as Tebow’s current 82.1. And never did opposing GMs suggest starting Couch was an “embarrassment.”

Ryan Leaf was allowed to start 21 games and even the Dallas Cowboys gave him a shot on their roster. Heath Shuler made 22 starts for two different organizations. Never was either mocked publicly the way Tebow has been.

Perhaps the Lions players should be reminded that their own Matthew Stafford, in his first year as quarterback, completed only 53.3% of his passes and had 20 interceptions to only 13 TDs. Was his 61.0 QB rating a joke? Or how about Tebow’s teammate, Brady Quinn who, like Tebow, has played in 14 NFL games. His QB rating is worse, 66.8 and has only one more touchdown but five more interceptions than Tebow. Kyle Orton’s first 15 games in Chicago? A 59.7 rating, 9 TDs and 13 interceptions. He also lost five fumbles. I don’t recall the outrage over Cleveland and Chicago starting these players.

So what makes Tebow different from these quarterbacks? Why is he the subject of derision and ridicule despite having better statistics? Could it be his openness about his Christianity? Tebow has been the subject of media attention since arriving at Florida. He has always been portrayed in the media narrative as the “golden boy.” As a non-Gator fan, I can attest to finding all the hyping of Tebow more than a little bit irritating.

So now that Tebow has arrived in the NFL, it’s time for the backlash. Now that Tim isn’t winning national championships or Heismans, the media is reconstructing its narrative, this time painting him as a failure.

What’s sad about all this is that Tebow hasn’t invited any of it. Throughout his career at Florida, he remained even-keeled, simply going about his business winning football games, and more importantly, his priority of being a positive Christian light. Tebow has never shied away from speaking about his faith, nor has he personally elevated it or shoved it in others’ faces. The media have sensationalized it, but Tebow has simply lived as who he is.

For his troubles, he has fellow NFL players openly taunting that faith and members of the media taking potshots about his virginity and other attributes of his faith. Tebow doesn’t deserve that.

It’s time for the media, and more importantly, the NFL to treat Tebow like any other quarterback in the league. Personally, I think Kyle Orton’s a better quarterback at this time and gives Denver a better chance to win. But Tim Tebow’s performance thus far has been far from “embarrassing” or a “joke.” What’s not a joke or at all embarrassing is the way Tebow has carried himself during all this. Not only has he represented Christ well, but he’s handled himself as a professional as well. Perhaps other journalists and players should follow suit.

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Toy Story 4

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Bengals Come Up Short in Denver

Andy Dalton and company came up just short in their attempt to start the season 2-0, dropping a 24-22 decision to the Denver Broncos Sunday. Check out Bengals 101 for all the post-game news and analysis.

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Buckeyes Reeling After Getting Bounced in South Florida

After beating Akron 42-0, we thought it might be all right. After struggling with Toledo, there was concern. Saturday’s disaster in South Beach removed any and all illusions of another successful season for Ohio State football. The Buckeyes were manhandled on both sides of the ball and showed that this off season’s turmoil has, in fact, hurt the program.

Miami rushed for over 200 yards against the Buckeyes’ defense. Not since Tim Biakabatuka has the Ohio State defense been gashed for chunks of yardage the way the Hurricanes did Saturday night. The Buckeye linebackers and secondary missed tackles all night. The only saving grace was Miami quarterback Jacory Harris’s propensity to throw to Ohio State DBs.

Speaking of that, perhaps Luke Fickell might want to suit up a few defensive backs at receiver while he waits for DeVier Posey to return from suspension. While Joe Bauserman conjured up images of Austin Mohrman, he didn’t get a lot of help from his receivers who appeared to have coated their hands in silicone. Not that Bauserman found many of them in position to catch the ball. The leading target for Bauserman seemed to be sitting in row four as he threw the ball away all evening. Head coach Luke Fickell appeared dumbfounded as to what to do with his quarterbacks, taking a page out of John Cooper’s playbook by alternating Bauserman and freshman Braxton Miller not just on series, but on downs. It worked about as well for Fickell as it did for Cooper.

Fickell’s deer-in-the-headlights sideline demeanor is perhaps most disconcerting. In his first game under the bright lights as head coach, Fickell wilted. Faced with whether or not to call a timeout with Miami leading 17-6 and the clock running with little over a minute left, Fickell stood paralyzed on the sideline with hands poised to call a timeout that he ended up taking home with him. Not that that decision impacted the outcome, but it was instructive of Fickell’s overall fecklessness as the leader of the team. When asked afterwards about his decisions about Bauserman and Miller, Fickell deflected that responsibility to offensive coordinator, Jim Bollman. Really? The head coach is ceding personnel decisions in a big game to an assistant. Somehow, I don’t see Jim Tressel doing that.

Ohio State is in trouble. Bauserman can’t make the throws and Miller is still wet behind the ears. Getting back Posey and tailback Boom Herron will help, but not enough to save this team from at least three or four losses. I can’t see last night’s team stacking up in Lincoln, against Wisconsin, or possibly (gasp!) in Ann Arbor.

If the latter happens, and the Buckeyes limp into the Insight.com Bowl or some such pre-New Year’s exhibition, the Urban Meyer rumors might just turn out to be more than that.

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“The Shame of College Sports”: Atlantic Monthly Has it All

If you’ve read any of my pieces on the problems with the NCAA, you’ll find the Atlantic Monthly’s seven-page history/expose’ fascinating. This piece tells the whole story, painstakingly detailing the history of college athletics. It’s what I’ve been writing about here at MT since I started. It’s well worth your time.

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Who Dey!!! Bengals Drop Browns to Open Season

How’s that for a start? For all the post game wrap up and analysis, follow me at Bengals 101.

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