Could Tim Tebow eventually work his way into gridiron greatness?
It's a question more football fans are asking as the Denver Broncos quarterback racks up wins during the 2011 season's closing stretch. After a rocky start, Colorado's football franchise is now 5-5 and second place in their AFC West division. Given Tebow has taken his team to 4-1, many players old and new have started singing the young athlete's praises.
"We're on the edge of our seats saying, 'knowing Tim, this is the time he's going to make that one play or get that drive going,'" said Brian Dawkins, a Broncos safety, in an interview with NFL.com posted Friday. "He's a hard worker. He just doesn't stop. There aren't too many people in this league who can step up in crunch time like he does."
Nowhere was this tenacity more present than the Broncos' close victory over the New York Jets last Thursday. Neck-and-neck for four quarters, Tebow took the reins with 5:54 remaining and led a 12-play, 95-yard march down the field. He next won the game's war of attrition by giving the Broncos a 28-yard touchdown run with less than a minute left in the game.
As Dawkins describes it, Tebow could take credit for such a miracle comeback. In contrast, the Broncos quarterback has often described his success as God's bounty instead.
"Tim has a belief in what he believes in," Dawkins said. "He's a man of faith and he leans on that faith continually. That's where he gets everything he needs."
It certainly seemed this way prior to last Thursday's skirmish. Posting to his Facebook hours before the game, Tebow cryptically wrote "Colossians 3:15 GB²" as his status. Colossians 3:15 NIV reads, "Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful."
Such serenity has helped Tebow weather criticism as fans and detractors alike debate his stock off the field. Given he replaced former Broncos quarterback Kyle Orton mid-season, not every Denver fan finds the new status quo satisfying.
"Criticizing Tebow is practically a sport in itself these days," said Ann Bolin, a Castle Pines, Colo., native. "He's young, inexperienced and makes mistakes even with his winning record. Timmy's still looking like he needs more time to learn what he's doing."
Besides Dawkins, Tebow has another big defender in football legend Raymond "Zeke" Bratkowski. An NFL veteran of a combined 40 seasons as player and coach, Bratkowski maintains that Tebow's best times are still coming.
"Tim Tebow is a warrior," he told the Denver Post yesterday. "He will be a Pro Bowl-caliber quarterback. Timmy's unlike any other quarterback or person I've ever been around."
Bratkowski said he's offered Tebow one-on-one training sessions and encouragement to keep his spirits high throughout the Broncos' rollercoaster season. Citing Denver's gradual growth into winning status, he said he believes Tebow could replicate his past successes at the University of Florida. While playing for the Gators, Tebow took home the 2007 Heisman trophy and a 2008 national collegiate football championship.
"Timmy's going to have a breakout passing game soon, and somebody will be in deep trouble," Bratkowski said. "I went over to (the University of Florida) to meet with (coach) Urban Meyer, who was talking like Timmy could walk on water. After what I've seen, I think he can."