I’ve never seen anything like it.
In my twenty-six years of covering NFL football in the booth as the spotter for ABC’s “Monday Night Football”, and now for NBC’s “Sunday Night Football”, nothing can compare to the excitement that has been generated by Tim Tebow. Sure, there have been phenoms, great performances and shooting stars, but never before has the country been as captivated by the performance of a single NFL player as it is currently by the Denver Broncos quarterback.
Consider that the rating for Sunday afternoon’s game on CBS was the highest since CBS began keeping records 24 years ago. Between 8:00 and 8:13 PM EST the game had a 29.4 rating with a 44-share, meaning that nearly one third of the nation’s homes had TVs tuned to Tebow. According to Nielson numbers, more 54 million people watched Tebow throw a perfect pass to Demaryius Thomas on the first play of overtime to beat the Pittsburgh Steelers 29-23.
Mashable reported that the Twitter-sphere erupted with users generating Tebow related tweets at a remarkable 9,420 tweets per second. Surely there is something besides football driving this drama and making it must-see TV and must “tweet-twitter”.
The Tebow story has been well chronicled, but in case you missed it, here are some of the details:
- Tim Tebow is the son of Christian Baptist missionaries. He was born in the Philippines while the family was on a religious mission. Though home schooled by his mother, he played football for a public high school in Florida where he led his team (Nease HS in Ponte Verde, FL) to the state championship and was named “Mr. Football”, the highest individual honor in the state.
- He matriculated to the University of Florida where his team won a National Championship and he was awarded the Heisman Trophy as a sophomore.
- Despite obvious deficiencies in his game, his slow passing delivery being chief amongst them, he was selected in the 2009 draft by the Denver Broncos with the 25th pick. He played sparingly until the fifth game of this season when, due to losing record and frustration among Bronco fans, he was tapped to start the second half of a game against the San Diego Chargers. He nearly led the team to a dramatic comeback, falling short as San Diego won 29-24. But the die had been cast and the following week Tebow started at quarterback against Miami.
- During the next eight games, Tebow led the Broncos to seven wins, in the most improbable, jaw dropping fashion. And then, just as he was capturing the public’s imagination, the dream season hit the skids. Three straight losses down the stretch returned the focus to Tebow’s weaknesses as the experts again pointed to his inability to throw complete passes.
This past week he completed just 10 passes out of 21 attempts but the one that mattered, the one that has America talking, was the final 80-yard touchdown pass that beat Pittsburgh, and sent the Broncos on to the next round of the AFC playoffs. The completion moved his yardage total for the game to 316 and his average yards per completion to 31.6. An eerie number, as it evokes the biblical verse John’s 3:16 which Tebow had written in eye black on his face during the 2009 BCS Championship game.
Never seen anything like it.
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Malibu Kelly Hayes is the spotter for NBC’s “Sunday Night Football” and looks forward to their broadcast of Super Bowl XLVI no matter who the quarterback is.
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