Tebow has come to expose something weirdly profound in our culture. This is America, circa 2012: 43 percent of the people who know about Tebow believe divine intervention is a factor in his success. African Americans (60 percent) and Latinos (81 percent) believe God’s hand is reaching down to create more perfect spirals for #15.
Exhibit A in the case of our failed education system.
The inevitable end of the Tebow train. The New Orleans-San Francisco game was obviously the better game, but Denver-New England was equally compelling. For a second. The thing about the way the Broncos have played with Tebow of late is that it allowed anyone so willing to suspend their disbelief. “They can’t really hang with the Patriots.” “Yeah, but have you seen what he’s been able to do? You never know.” This is the real Tebow Legacy—and it’s why we love sports. Not because we want to see Tebow fail and not because people call him a “winner,” “gamer,” “underdog” or any other euphemism for “not very good.” We love watching sports because we love watching crazy shit happen. Sometimes that crazy shit is a wildly over-matched team beating its superior. Tebow and the Broncos piloted that roller coaster ride for half the season and made people think that the crazy shit happening before their eyes was actually more than just crazy shit happening before their eyes. It’s true, you never do know, even when you should know better. There’s no way the Broncos had a chance but even the most die-hard anti-Tebowists out there couldn’t have felt completely confident saying that going into the game. There is always that doubt—or hope, depending on your perspective—that something crazy and inexplicable will happen (Like Alex Smith and Vernon Davis looking like Steve Young and Terrell Owens). Eventually though, it becomes too much to handle and we want the world to right itself and last night it finally did.
But the intensity of the derision strikes me as unwarranted, in that it outdoes anything directed at, say, the Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, accused repeatedly of sexual assault, or other players actually convicted of burglary, gun possession and other crimes. In a league full of blithe felons, Tebow and his oppressive piety don’t seem like such horrendous affronts at all.
In the end, the old coach could not live up to his own ideal. In a moment that called for courage, Joe Paterno was all too human. He lost his nerve. I wish I knew what he was thinking, but I don’t. All I know is that what he did wasn’t enough.
In life Davis was rightly seen by the media as devious, vindictive, mercenary, and “the crown prince of paranoia,” all just fancier words for asshole.
Having gone to the other side on the Day of Atonement, Davis has apparently been exculpated of his sins entirely. His negative traits have either been softened or simply disappeared. The words that keep getting batted around now to describe Davis are “controversial,”; “rebel,” “maverick,” “passionate,” and “complex.”
There were some excellent accounts of the true nature of his complexity (see Bill Plaschke’s obituary in the LA Times) in the print media. But the television networks, which I guess were bound to produce superficial coverage, for the most part ignored one of the most important aspects of Davis’s legacy: his assholery.
I’m not suggesting I don’t believe Jeff Pearlman’s reporting for “Sweetness: The Enigmatic Life of Walter Payton;” Pearlman’s a pro with two best-sellers to his credit. And he had on-the-record conversations with longtime Payton representative Bud Holmes and former personal assistant Ginny Quirk. The point isn’t to question Pearlman’s accuracy, but to question his purpose in writing the book. What’s the literary mission here?