Conspiracy Theory on Tebow Is Nonsense

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There's a new movie, "Anonymous,'' which is not about who's at quarterback for the Indianapolis Colts, but William Shakespeare.

Yes, that Shakespeare. No, not that Shakespeare, because the premise of the film is the person named Shakespeare had neither the skill nor worldliness to create the works of genius we know.

Yes, another film based on conspiracy theory, something the late Raiders owner, Al Davis, surely would have appreciated.

In "JFK,'' some 20 years ago, director Oliver Stone went so conspiratorial we were all but warned never to stop looking over our shoulders.

This became pertinent Thursday when an announcer on one of ESPN's afternoon radio shows, needing an attention-grabbing subject - don't we all? - suggested there's a conspiracy behind the Denver Broncos' decision to start Tim Tebow at quarterback now.

"They want him to fail,'' said the announcer in as many words. "This way (GM) John Elway and (coach) John Fox can get rid of him."

The Tebow cult will have been placated, according to his argument, and the Broncos can get on with the specific job of winning football games.

Which, of course, is what they did last weekend with Tebow, if not in a particularly elegant fashion. Still, the ultimate measure of any quarterback is the final score.

The longtime football writer from Sports Illustrated and the New York Post, Paul Zimmerman, who played at Columbia and Stanford - and sadly, now is paralyzed from two strokes - contended one of his coaches said beauty didn't matter: "A quarterback's got to be the guy who can take you in in the last two minutes when it's getting dark and the fans are booing and the wind is howling."

The weather wasn't a problem last weekend for the Broncos at Miami, and if the fans were booing, it was against the awful Dolphins. But after doing nothing for some 55 minutes, trailing 15-0, Tebow rallied Denver, ran for the two-point conversation that sent the game into overtime and watched as the Broncos won on a field goal 18-15.

That's quarterbacking.

Whether that's enough quarterbacking to keep him a starter in the NFL remains a question.

Another question is why Tebow is so controversial a figure. Was it because of the way he was idolized at Florida? Was it his personality, his religious evangelism, his seeming attempt to please everyone all the time?

We make decisions from afar, unless you are Broncos management in the 2010 NFL, meaning GM Brian Xanders and coach Josh McDaniel. They took Tebow with the 25th pick in the first round, despite an awkward throwing motion, tendency to run instead of pass and numerous doubts among the football cognoscenti.

Now Tebow is, in a manner of speaking, Elway and Fox's baby. And burden. Tebow is different, unusual, exciting - but unconventional, and in a sport ruled by convention, that may be the harshest indictment of all.

"He's not a rhythm quarterback,'' Mike Maycock, the NFL Network analyst, reminded one week ago. "You need to change launch points. You need to let him run the football."

It wasn't so much an adaptation of the idea, "If you have a lemon, make lemonade.'' It was more like, "We're 1-4 and sinking like the stock market (on alternate days). Let's give the kid a chance."

Denver fans paid for a billboard campaign endorsing Tebow. Elway, not a bad quarterback himself at Stanford or with the Broncos, and aggressive as, well, an old bronco-buster, decided to make the move, replacing Kyle Orton while joking he wasn't persuaded by the messages along the highways.

"I think it's always a case that you do everything as an offense to try and take advantage of the guy that's pulling the trigger," Elway said. "Let's put it this way: I'm his biggest fan. ... He can do all those things, but for us to be champions you have to be able to win it from the pocket and make all those throws from the pocket."

He hasn't made them yet, but he's made an impression. Tebow's performance got him and the Broncos much more time on the highlight shows than a last-place team in the AFC West normally would.

You think Elway and Fox want their quarterback, either Orton or Tebow, or their team to fail? I'm not sure, despite the illogical and preposterous ideas that Indianapolis and Miami are trying to fail to get a shot at Andrew Luck, that anybody on those teams is attempting to lose games.

Although, as the Tebow conspiracy theory, those concepts are well documented.

You want conspiracy? The clever A.O. Scott of the New York Times said the movie "Anonymous'' was "a vulgar prank on the English literary tradition, a travesty of British history and a brutal insult to the human imagination. Apart from that, it's not bad."

Any allusions to Mr. Tebow by a radio sort hardly meets those substandards. In truth, the word for Tim Tebow is not conspiracy but curiosity. Everyone is attempting to figure out what he can do. Or cannot.

Or, as the man who wrote Shakespeare might have said, "To be or not to be."

As a reporter since 1960, Art Spander is a recipient of the Dick McCann Memorial Award -- given for his long and distinguished career covering professional football -- and a spot in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. He's also honored with the Lifetime Achievement Award by the PGA of America. His columns appear in RealClearSports on Wednesdays and Fridays.

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