Clearly God has fallen out of love with his disciple Tim Tebow. How else can you explain the announcement today that Peyton Manning will be signing with the Denver Broncos, essentially putting Tebow on the chopping / trade block? Tim Tebow, from his amazing two time Heisman trophy winning college career to his successful if unpredictable 1 year career in the NFL has been one of the most popular and polarizing figures that we’ve seen in sports – without ever having to text himself naked, make it rain , star in a homoerotic reality T.V. show on VH1 or kill a dog. However he’s still out on his rear end likely within the next few months, and while on the surface this is just about football there is a political story here that might be instructive for both parties in the 2012 election.
Tim Tebow is a winner who just isn’t a very good quarterback. There have been questions about his throwing mechanics, footwork and ability to understand complex defenses since he entered the league and his performance over an amazing 8-1 starting career, including a playoff win over the Pittsburgh Steelers didn’t quiet any of the concerns about his play from football experts. But that didn’t matter: Tim, with is boyish good looks and consistent and open conservative Christian faith, became an idol of sorts to some American sports fans and of course a nice cultural palette cleanser to all of those ruffian Black folks with tattoos and locks that had been invading the Quarterback position since the late 1990’s.
John Elway, the president of the Denver Broncos, one of the top 3 quarterbacks of all time and a pathological competitor desperately wanted to get rid of Tebow as the starter. Deep down he felt like the kid’s horrible accuracy and inability to read defenses would eventually cost the Broncos. But how do you get rid of a guy like Tebow? How do you crucify the Mile High Messiah? How do you bench Jesus in a Football helmet? How do you play the villain in the inevitable ABC Family Channel Movie “4th and God” that you just KNOW was being made about this guy’s life? You trump him with likely the only man in the NFL that could replace Tim Tebow without starting a statewide riot in Colorado: Peyton Manning.
I’ve got to give John Elway credit. It takes a pretty thick, surgically altered neck to stick it out there on the chopping block and replace a playoff-winning, incredibly popular young QB with a 36 year old Hall of Famer who just missed a year of football due to spinal surgery.
But that’s the lesson here. When your goal is to win, instead of satisfying the fans or the pundits or jersey sales, you pick the best guy out there, flaws and all and you ride with him to the Promised Land. This is a lesson that the Republican Party would do well to emulate.
The party doesn’t have a supreme leader a-la John Elway to make commands from on high. RNC Chair Reince Priebus doesn’t have the chops for that kind of gutsy move, yet. However, he must see that Rick Santorum is Tebow and Mitt Romney is Peyton Manning and it’s time to stop pretending there is a competition and just go with the guy who can win it all. Just like Tebow, Rick Santorum is a staunch open conservative Christian who has against all odds, despite some obvious flaws in his political game, managed to run a successful campaign and challenge Romney for the nomination.
But let’s be honest. You can win a nomination, but you can’t win a presidential election with Rick Santorum – just like you can win some games with Tebow, but you can’t win a Superbowl with a guy who barley completes 50% of his passes. Now clearly Peyton Manning is one of the most beloved and successful quarterbacks of all time, and Romney is certainly not the political version of Peyton, but there is an allegory. Even at 36 with several spinal surgeries behind him and nearing what is often the twilight of a football career Peyton still gives Denver a better chance to win than Tebow hands down.
Along the same lines, Mitt Romney has spinal problems ( as in he has no political spine and will take any position he needs to win) but he’s got money, a good resume, no scandals and gives the Republican Party a better chance to win the presidency than Rick Santorum under any and all circumstances.
The Broncos know well enough that they need to ship off Tebow in order to get the best out of Peyton when they sign him and then shoot for a Superbowl this season in a weak AFC field. The Republicans should realize that they need to do whatever they can to dump Santorum and throw all they can behind Mitt Romney if they’ve got any chance of beating a weak incumbent president like Obama. Does the GOP have that kind of hail mary in them? They better hope so, or Obama will be spiking the ball on the White House lawn during his inauguration next year.