(Photo: Reuters/Eric Miller)
Tim Tebow doesn't have a guaranteed place in the 2011 NFL Pro Bowl despite being one of the league's most popular quarterbacks.
USA Today reported today that the Denver Broncos star has secured second alternate quarterback status in the annual all-star game marking the end of the NFL season. Scheduled for Jan. 29 in Honolulu, Hawaii, the game pits the best of the NFL's AFC and NFC divisions against one another in an elite football scrimmage. Tebow may take to the field for the big game, but only if three AFC starters and another alternate choose not to participate.
"Even though he didn't make the Pro Bowl’s main roster, it's great seeing Tim Tebow make the cut as an alternate quarterback," said Emilia Huneke-Bergquist, a Berthoud, Colo. native. "He's still a fresh quarterback, especially in relation to the first-string quarterbacks selected."
New England's Tom Brady is the AFC Division's starting quarterback, according to USA Today. Pittsburgh's Ben Roethlisberger and San Diego's Philip Rivers are the team's backups, while Cincinnati's Andy Dalton is the first alternate quarterback before Tebow. They'll face Green Bay's Aaron Rodgers as the NFC's starting quarterback, backed by New Orleans' Drew Brees and the New York Giants' Eli Manning.
Pro Bowl selections are typically decided by a three-way mix of NFL player, coach and fan votes.
Tebow's name popped up in Pro Bowl candidate talk following his breakthrough 2011 season. The former second-string quarterback took charge of the Denver Broncos in October and has since transformed them into potential AFC Division West champions. Beloved by fans for his open faith, the evangelical athlete has also amassed nearly 769,000 Twitter followers and a bestselling memoir this year.
Will Cousins, a Leominster, Mass. native and New England Patriots fan, said Tebow doesn't belong in such circles, he argued, as fans overlook his playing ability for his personality and public displays of Christianity.
“People like Tim Tebow's story and he's a great guy, but he's not a good quarterback," Cousins said. "Putting him in the Pro Bowl would be akin to the movie 'Air Bud' getting nominated for an Oscar. Everyone likes it, it's inspirational but that doesn't make it good. And at least in 'Air Bud,' the dog was good at basketball."
New England and the San Francisco 49ers have the largest number of Pro Bowl selections with eight players apiece.
Nick Plescia, a Green Bay Packers fan, said he admired Tebow's determination but that he wasn't on the same level as a player like Rodgers, a defending Super Bowl champion. Though he said he couldn't imagine Tebow in this year's all-star game, he admitted his work ethics and religious devotion still made him worth emulating.
"Tebow is a very easy person to like," Plescia said. "He reminds us of what the most important thing should be. Not success or football, but our Lord Jesus Christ."