American Culture

Does Tim Tebow get a free pass because he’s a moron?

Image (1) jesustebow.jpg for post 6741In the space of 24 hours, we’ve now heard three sports reporters finally come out and call Tebow stupid. There was the article yesterday that said that he was so dyslexic and ADD he couldn’t keep the letter-number sequence straight between leaving the huddle and reaching the line. Now dyslexia is one of those words that sometimes means what it says and sometimes means something else, like dumb. Which is why Merrill Hoge said the problem was “an IQ problem, an intelligence issue,” and now Will Brinson has said that Tebow’s “no Braniac.”

Leaving aside for a moment the fascinating question of whether intelligence matters in football, this brings up a thorny moral question. I’ve long argued that people should be on the hook for behavior that is controllable. That is, it’s unfair to criticize or penalize people for sex, race, height or sexual orientation because none of those are controllable by the individual. (Having said that, there are some uncontrollable sexual orientations, e.g., pedophilia, that we as a society choose to hold people accountable for because their effects are so heinous. It may not be completely fair to the pederast, but not to do so would be unfair to the victims.)

The flip side of my argument is that it is fair to criticize people for things they can control, like smoking, obesity, laziness, and rudeness. Controlling those may be hard, but enough people have done it that we can reasonably draw the conclusion that it’s doable.

But what about just being plain stupid?

I’ve criticized Tebow heavily for using his faith to essentially steal a job from a more deserving athlete when it was obvious that he was unable to fulfill the requirements of the position. But what if he was just too plain dumb to know what he was doing?

It’s not surprising that he’s stupid. He’s very religious and numerous studies have shown a strong correlation between lack of intelligence and religious fervor. This is not to say, of course, that all religious people are stupid or that all smart people are atheists. That’s not the way statistics works. It just says we shouldn’t be surprised when religious people are fools.

Tebowistas have argued that he deserves a job in the NFL because he has a set of vague non-athletic and non-mental characteristics like “leadership” and “being a winner” or “goodness.” (All of which is code for being a white Christian, by the way, but never mind that.) The truth, however painful it may be, is that economics rewards talent. If you want to earn out-sized rewards in life, for the most part it helps to have some innate and highly prized skill, usually athletic or cognitive ability. And it is necessary that skill be very specific. For example, it’s not enough to be smart, you need to smart in certain ways, like mathematically, to get rewarded. Or it’s not enough to be fast and quick, you need hip flexibility to be an NFL cornerback.

That’s not particularly reassuring. It would probably be a nicer world if economics rewarded made-up stuff like emotional intelligence instead of real intelligence. If so, caregivers in nursing homes would earn more than hedge fund managers instead of minimum wage. But sadly, that’s not the case. Goodness may lead to happiness or any other number of factors, but it doesn’t get you a top slot in pro sports. Indeed, many of the most admired athletes out there demonstrably lack one iota of goodness, e.g., Tiger, Roger Clemens, Ben Roethlesberger, ad infintum and ad nauseam.

So it’s more than fair to criticize Timmy for conning his way into a job (and conning someone else out of one) if he knew what he was doing.

But what if he’s just too stupid to know he sucks? I would never, ever, ever criticize or make fun of the mentally handicapped kids at the pool.

Maybe being a Christian doesn’t let Tebow off the hook, like his many fans believe, but perhaps being dumb does.

14 replies »

  1. I don’t know if Timmy is dyslexic or whether this is the Tebow Brand Machine cranking up an excuse that can be leveraged to some advantage. I don’t know how smart he is, although his Wonderlic score suggests that he isn’t a rocket surgeon

    What we do know is that he has been hyped well past what his actual capabilities could justify and we know that this has been 100% a function of race and religion.

    I can also say that I hope he gets another chance in the NFL. I hope he gets SEVERAL more chances, so long as none of them happen in Denver or Carolina. I’d love to see the Raiders or Cowboys or Washington Racist Nicknames bring him in. Ditto for the Chargers and the Chiefs. And gods, would I love to see him backing up the dog killer in Philly.

    • Thank you for not suggesting Cleveland. We have enough problems with our idiot owner. And I do NOT need another moment like the one when I realized that John Rocker had been signed to the Indians.

      • No, but it’s only a matter of time before the Tebowistas suggest you get Jimmer Fredette to make up for Lebron, because Jimmer is a “hell of an athlete,” who’s “a proven winner” who won the Wooden and Naismith Awards (the bball equivalent of the Heisman)

        Jimmer has all those intangibles unlike guys like poor Lebron who only have tangibles.

  2. A quick word on emotional intelligence. I took an EQ test once, and it was so insipidly simple that, in outrage, I contacted one of the researchers responsible for it. He was actually quite nice, and assured me that scores on the test fall on a nearly perfect bell curve.

    And that, everyone, is scary as fuck.

  3. I think there’s a point here that hasn’t been explored and that I’m “curiouser and curiouser” about – maybe because the Tebow camp guards against any real perusal of Timmy (I doubt I’m the only person who wonders why we don’t know Tebow in any real way) – and that point is this: how much of the “Tebow story” is who Tim Tebow is and how much of it is a PR campaign carefully orchestrated by UF, his and his mom’s advisors, et. al.?

    The guy is a cipher. I’ve read and heard about his proselytizing, his “learning disabilities,” his stupidity. Here and other places. But I’ve yet to read anything that tells me who Tim Tebow is – an entitled, self-deluded egotist who refuses to accept others’ estimations of his athletic talent, a man-child dummy who truly doesn’t get how the real world of pro sports (or anything else) works, a cunning manipulator who is playing a part to set himself up for a lucrative career either in pro sports or in mega-church style religion sales.

    If we knew even slightly who he is, maybe all this drama would go away – and he and we could get on with putting him and his saga in our rear views….

    • Jim, the fact that you don’t really have a clue who he is after he’s been the hottest media topic in the free world for the last three years ought to tell you something. Something meaningful.

      • I think Jim has a point. He is to some extent a human whiteboard, reflecting whatever his nutcase parents, manipulative coach, etc have written on him today. The only real thing we know about Tim is that he loves and craves attention, and that no attention grabbing stunt is beneath him. My guess is he’s a very shallow and limited young man and there’s just not much to know. His brain has all the depth and nuance of a road sign, not a Dostoevsky novel.

  4. Facts you cannot deny:
    – He led Univ of Florida to BCS Championship in 2008
    – Won Heisman Trophy in 2007 as a sophomore
    – Set SEC records while playing at the Univ. of Florida and GRADUATED in 4 years – a rarity among hig profile college athletes and, not exactly a sign of stupidity)

    While I’m not a fan of his proselytizing, it’s his choice and as citizens of the USA, everyone is entitled to freedom of speech. The guy’s a hell of an athlete. The fact that he hasn’t yet found a team to settle into isn’t his fault. (Had it not been for a guy named Peyton Manning, he’d probably making his niche with the Broncos now).

    • Don

      Thanks for the polite post, but you’re wrong.

      1. Winning a national championship and/or Heisman is not a predictor of success in the NFL. Nor is he a hell of an athlete, not by NFL standards. He’s decidedly mediocre by NFL standards. Those Heisman quarterbacks who succeed in the NFL are physically superior to Tebow. People say what you just said, but they’re denying the facts when they do. Here’s the analysis.

      2. It’s been widely reported that John Elway despised Tim Tebow. If Manning hadn’t arrived, Bronco fans would be watching Alex Smith or Brady Quinn or Matt Ryan or Kevin Kolb or some-guy-we-never-heard-of, but they wouldn’t be watching Tebow.

      3. Pro sports is about adjustments. The New England Patriots showed the league how to defense Tebow–don’t blitz him and disguise coverages. How’d Tim do when he was on the field for the Jets? That’s the real Tebow

      4. If he could play, he’d have a job, period. This is the NFL, a league that has given jobs to sexual predators, wanna be drug lords, wife beaters, thugs, PED cheats, murderers, con men and even people who try to run down cops with cars.

      How are things in Gator Nation?

      • FYI…I am not now nor ever have been a UofFL fan. In fact, regardless of their success, I generally despise all the SEC teams – I believe that the SEC leads the country in the % of teams whose players don’t graduate. I simply stated the facts. And…given his work ethic and competitive nature, he will make it in the NFL (QB or elsewhere). BTW…Elway is the guy who signed Tebow in the first place. You obviously don’t like the guy and let your personal feelings toward him dictate any kind of rational perspective. Even tho I may not be a Tebow fan myself, it does not mean I don’t recognize his talent.

        • And…given his work ethic and competitive nature, he will make it in the NFL (QB or elsewhere).

          He has a fantastic chance of making it in the NFL if he’s willing to switch positions. But he has made it abundantly clear that he isn’t. He will never make it as a true QB – he simply doesn’t have the skills.

          BTW…Elway is the guy who signed Tebow in the first place.

          You are badly misinformed and factually wrong. Tebow was drafted and signed by former head coach Josh McDaniel before Elway joined the Broncos organization (which happened when McD was fired for being both incompetent and corrupt).

        • No, Don, you’re wrong. I don’t dislike Tim Tebow. I can’t. I don’t know him. Everything I hear says he’s a very likable young man, so I’d guess I would like him if I knew him.

          I don’t like two things.

          1. I don’t like the cynical overhyping of white Christian athletes by the league and the media. It’s not just Tebow. Jimmer Fredette won all three of the major basketball awards, that’s like three Heismans, and he was sold as the next coming of Larry Bird. The media conveniently forgot to mention that he’s six inches smaller than Larry. He’s spent two years in the league and sits on the bench, exactly where a short, slow shooter who can’t defend belongs. But the media and the league know that there’s a segment of the population that loves these sorts of stories and panders to them. For the professional sports leagues, it’s a chance to sell lots of jerseys (both Fredette and Tebow set records) and tickets to unwatchable pre-season games, so they hype these kids up then dump them a few years later, like they just did to Tebow.

          2. I also don’t like people who support Tebow and say they want to argue facts, but make stuff up. Then when called on it, they stick stubbornly to their same stupid position. You said Tebow would be successful because he’d been successful in college and was a “hell of an athlete.” I proved both of those things untrue. Instead of admitting you were wrong, you make up more untrue facts (Elway drafting Tebow) and made it personal, accusing me of bias. If you say you want to argue facts, jackass, then argue facts. The fact is that Tebow is out of a job and neither Elway nor the guy who really did draft him, Josh McDaniel of the New England Patriots, has offered him a job. The fact is that a Hall of Fame quarterback, Warren Moon, said today that Tebow would never be a quarterback in the NFL because: He. Cannot. Throw. Accurately. Them’s the facts.

          Now you’re right that he is said to have a great work ethic. But the problem with that argument is that to succeed in pro sports you need tremendous physical talent and a great work ethic. It’s not either/or, it’s and. Jamarcus Russell, Ryan Leaf, Todd Marinovich, etc all had great talent, but no work ethic, and they all failed. Tebow has a great work ethic, but no talent (as a QB.) That’s not enough, because there are plenty of guys with talent AND a great work ethic–the Mannings, RGIII, Wilson, Kaepernick, Rodgers, etc.

          By the way, you’re not right about the SEC either.

    • Tebow graduated with a degree in Youth and Community Service. I reviewed his college course schedule, and it was essentially one “community service” class after another. I don’t think he is too bright. I used to think Ryan Lochte was the dumbest UF jock of all time. But now I am not too sure.

  5. The Gator nation should enjoy the memories of Tebow and let it go. He had a great fun at Florida but never had any great talent that I saw. Had some intangibles that undoubtedly helped the success but there is no reason to believe those intangibles will have any place in the NFL — great leaders in the NFL are talent first leaders. I don’t watch a lot of football any more but when I saw him most of his success came from him running mostly up the middle. That is on the O line not his talent. He tries that behind the Texas O line and he gets his left guard shoved down his throat butt first (Is my Mack Brown fatigue showing?).

    On the other hand, I’m not sure I think it is fair to criticize him for conning his way into a job in the NFL. He’s a 25 year old kid with questionable intelligence and mediocre talent. He acts silly and says it is to show his commitment to Christ. Fine. Personally I find him about as tedious as LIndsey Lohan. But how does that enable him to con experienced, older, hardened NFL managers and owners. That’s on them. Timmy’s just a goofy kid.