Yes, I understand. Peyton Manning is a four-time MVP, a Super Bowl winner, and a sure-fire first-ballot Hall of Famer. He commands a game like nobody else. Even when he’s just at 75 percent, he’s still better than everybody else. And by all accounts, he’s an even better man off the field than on it. It’s great to have him in Denver.
But I’m still going to miss Tim Tebow.
I’m going to miss the energy he brought, which had been missing from the Mile High City since No. 7 retired more than a decade ago. I’m going to miss the fourth-quarter heroics. I’m going to miss the way he started each interview by giving thanks to a power higher than himself. I’m going to miss his positive example and relentless sunny attitude.
Sure, there’s a circus-like element to Tebow-mania. Tebow’s powerful appeal attracts those who try to hitch their own agenda to his popularity — most recently, televangelist Pat Robertson said that a Peyton Manning injury would “serve (the Broncos) right” for trading Tebow. But none of that came from Tebow himself, and he shouldn’t be blamed for it.
Critics pick apart Tebow’s throwing motion, his accuracy, his decison-making. They carp about this or that inadequacy, and always have some reason to discount his extraordinary accomplishments. But all of them miss the real essence of Tim Tebow’s appeal — his character and outlook.
As a dad, I’m a huge Tebow fan. Having a winning pro sports team in your city is nice, but having positive role models for our kids is on another level altogether. The influence of celebrity in our culture is pervasive and at times overwhelming. How wonderful it is to have a pro athlete with a strong work ethic, who treats the women in his life with respect, gives his time and money to the poor, and isn’t ashamed to acknowledge his faith in God.
Whatever happens on the football field, I’ll always appreciate the positive contribution Tim Tebow made to this community. And I’ll always root for the guy.
Rob Witwer is a former member of the Colorado House of Representatives and co-author of the book, “The Blueprint: How Democrats Won Colorado and Why Republicans Everywhere Should Care.”