Johnny Football is probably a bigger douchebag than St. Timmy, but they’re more alike than they are different.
He was a blogger’s dream.
First, his situation represented an unambiguous wrong, the perfect high horse upon which to climb. He was given an opportunity he did not deserve because of racial and religious bias. Period. No ifs, ands or buts. If he’d been the same white quarterback, only not as overtly religious, he’d have been drafted in the umpteenth round like A.J. McCarron, who has similar stats to Tebow. If he’d been the same religious quarterback with mediocre skills, only not white, he would never have been drafted in the first place. There was no need for nuance when writing about the Tebow situation because there was no nuance involved. WYSIWYG. Some poor schmuck had his opportunity to play in the NFL taken away because of religious zealotry run amok.
Second, Timmy’s situation provided a platform for discussion of a much bigger issue, the takeover of various parts of our society by the ultra-religious, ultra-right. The judiciary system, the military and the NFL are probably the biggest three examples, although little of professional sports is exempt, as the Rockies and Warriors situations illustrate.
Shoot, Tebow was even a platform for discussion of a meta-meta-issue, the war between faith and science. That’s been going on for at least a thousand years, but there never has been a better case study than Tim Tebow. Science (in the form of 40-yard dash times, release time, etc.) said he had no chance at all. Faith said he did. And despite attempts to bolster the faith arguments with pseudo-science (“intangibles,” winning percentage) science won the day. As it always does. So it was a chance to watch religious zealots contort themselves into pretzels of denial when he was given three chances and failed three times.
Third, any blog about Tim drove hits, because those who liked him really liked him. I mean they really really liked him. Spend a week writing a thoughtful piece on the practical limits of American Exceptionalism and that piece might get fifty hits. Spend a minute dashing off a drive-by hinting that the real reason Tim was still a virgin was because he really wasn’t that interested in girls, and boo-yah, watch the hit-meter spin.
The only drawback to Tebow as a target was that while his followers were complete asses, he doesn’t appear to be. Yes, he took an opportunity he didn’t deserve, but it wasn’t exactly his fault someone offered him someone else’s million dollars and told him it was his. Yes, he could be a little bit pretentious and full of himself, but he’s a kid for goodness sake. All things considered, Tebow as a person is pretty darn admirable. He’s not a brain surgeon, but he works hard, is earnest and sincere, has a sense of humor, etc, etc. You might not want him on your fantasy team, but you’d be delighted with him as a son-in-law.
Those were the good old days.
Now, we have another over-rated, over-hyped Heisman Trophy winner who’s being given a chance he probably doesn’t deserve based on his likelihood of success. Yes, Johnny Manziel has one tangible—big hands—and a bucket of intangibles—“elusiveness,” “winning approach,” “same size as Russell Wilson.” But there are a ton of tangibles he’s missing—most notably size and speed. Not to mention work ethic, a critical intangible for an NFL quarterback. Recent reports say he only knew 60% of the A&M playbook and skipped 28 of 32 off-season workouts.
And by all accounts he’s a complete shit—inconsiderate, greedy, and lazy. (He’s also a liar. An interviewer asked him if he’d been “coached up” before his TV interviews and he denied it. Any first round pick who hasn’t gone through media training should fire his agent immediately.)
But worst of all, from a blogger’s perspective, is there’s no point in writing about Johnny Fuckwit Football. Yes, he got over-drafted, but probably not by much, and by Cleveland, who didn’t draft him to win but to fill seats. So at least there’s some logic involved. Maybe he took Teddy Bridgewater’s spot, but in his post-draft interview Teddy said he was delighted not to have to go to Cleveland. You can’t get too outraged if the guy being wronged is giddy with the outcome.
Nor is any meta-issue involved, unless you’re a 70-year old who wants to argue whether a Fran Tarkenton-style QB could make it in today’s NFL. (If you are, before you make that argument you might want to watch some video of RGIII’s knee breaking into pieces.) And most of Manziel’s supporters are Texans, so they can’t even fucking read. There go the hits.
I’m sorry, Timmy. I am. Please come back.