After observing a week of celebrations in Broncos Country like they just won the Super Bowl, it’s safe to say that the Broncos’ win over the Steelers on Sunday may be the most exciting thing that has happened to Bronco football since John Elway won back-to-back Super Bowls. Other than a 2005 conference championship game appearance (in which they ironically lost to the Steelers), the Denver Broncos franchise has been nothing else but mediocre since John Elway brought home a second Lombardi trophy to the Mile High city, announcing his anticipated retirement shortly after. From there the team struggled, especially when it came to finding a quarterback. There were four pitiful seasons led by Brian Griese, and four tolerable seasons led by Jake Plummer, until he gave the middle finger to a fan. Then came Jay Cutler, who was later jettisoned to Chicago by the notorious Josh McDaniels. While the trade sent Cutler to Chicago, it brought Kyle Orton to Denver. Orton started off strong in Denver with a 6-0 record, but went 7-24 from that point on until October 9th, 2011, the day he was benched by head coach John Fox. I don’t think it was all Orton’s fault. He did have one of the most polarizing football players in history on the bench waiting to take his spot. When it came down to it, Orton just couldn’t handle the pressure. Who can blame him? But neither the fans nor coaches saw him as a long-term answer. Fans had their eyes set on one guy by the name of Tim Tebow.
Five years ago you probably would have never heard his name unless you either lived in
Florida or you were an avid college football fan, but today his name has circled the globe. He is currently the most popular athlete in the world. If you haven’t heard of Tim Tebow by now, you would be living on a different planet. Win or lose, he’s bound to be one of the most popular athletes in our decade. But for now, he keeps winning, and that makes him one of the most popular athletes of, well, all time. I mean seriously, try to think of an athlete that is or has been this popular. Michael Jordan, Tiger Woods, the Williams sisters, Muhammad Ali, Lance Armstrong… the list runs short. There are very few athletes in the history of sports that have captured an audience the way Tebow has. And I’m not just talking about Denver Bronco or Florida Gator fans. Many people from around the world are becoming Tebow fans, people who were before completely unaffiliated with either of his current or former teams.
The most shocking thing about this story is that Tebow really hasn’t done a whole lot yet. Of course winning against Pittsburgh was incredible for Broncos fans everywhere, and his many comebacks this season has been nothing short of miraculous. He’s sparked a new excitement in sports fans all across the Denver area. But lets compare him to the great quarterbacks of this decade. Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers, Eli Manning: they’ve all been to the big dance and won it all. Tebow hasn’t even gotten there yet. But yet he remains more popular than all of them… combined. Perhaps the fans
deserve the credit. They never gave up on Tebow. They continued to chant his name as he sat on the bench as Kyle stunk it up on the field. They continued to stand behind him even after three straight losses. But when Tebow ran down the field at the end of overtime last Sunday to rejoice with teammates, something happened. Not just Broncos fans, but sports fans all across the country started to really believe. The miraculous win-streak that they thought had ended suddenly had a new flicker. And then it began. People started to sincerely believe this time. “Tebow can actually win in the playoffs! He just did it!” And fans everywhere are now picking the Broncos to upset the Patriots, and it’s because they believe. They believe that Tebow brings something that surpasses the dramatic mid-season win-streak. His play and determination has brought hope to fans everywhere. Watching a person achieve something when there were so many doubts is an inspiration to all walks of life. The fans were right. Maybe they don’t always know all the tangibles to look for in a quarterback, but perhaps they sense something more, something that coaches and football analysts can’t. Whatever it is, Tebow has it. And sports fans everywhere now believe.