Best player ever? I'll take Tebow
Published: Friday, January 9, 2009 at 6:45 p.m.
Last Modified: Friday, January 9, 2009 at 6:45 p.m.
MIAMI — Tim Tebow wore red welts on his neck, a grass stain on his back and an ice bag on his shoulder. He also wore a different Bible verse under his eyes.
John 3:16 — "For in this way God loved the world: that he gave the unique son, so that all the ones trusting in him would not perish, but have eternal life."
"I knew a lot of people would be watching this game," he said. "It's sort of the essence of Christianity."
Whether he goes to the NFL or stays for another year, we should all realize what this kid has brought to the University of Florida football program.
The best player in college football history.
I used to say it was Herschel Walker. There have been others you can debate. I'll take No. 15.
Show me someone tougher. In a game that was all about toughness, Tebow was the toughest guy on the field. He wanted the ball. At halftime, he told outgoing offensive coordinator Dan Mullen to get it to him.
"I wanted to do whatever I could do to win this game," he said. "If that meant running the ball and trying to run people over to get the crowd up, then so be it."
He was sore. His vocal chords were strained.
"From yelling," he said.
He probably felt like a long soak in a hot whirlpool.
"I felt like I was in pretty good shape coming into the game," he said. "I did a lot of running. They were definitely hitting to the whistle."
Tebow has been a legend ever since he announced that he would be a Gator. From his first day on campus he was one of the best-known players ever at UF.
"I feel like he's been a god ever since he came here," linebacker Brandon Spikes said.
Now, he has the one thing he needed to make his college football legacy complete — being the starting quarterback in the national title game. More than that, willing his team to the win.
He was a passer, a runner and a cheerleader Thursday night. His first half had hardly been the stuff of Superman. Two interceptions, both on passes he never should have thrown. Florida had scored only seven points. The Oklahoma defense was pressing him and stopping the run game.
"I think I was off rhythm a little bit early," he said. "They were doing some really good things and some things that I didn't personally anticipate they were going to do. They did a good job of trying to get to me early on and we had to make some adjustments."
Like, let Timmy be Timmy. Let him barrel over defenders to set up the pass. It was on Florida's second possession of the second half when he ran 15 yards and started screaming at the predominantly Gator crowd to get fired up.
About the only thing he did wrong in that second half was do a Gator Chomp at Oklahoma's Nic Harris and get a 15-yard penalty.
"I didn't trash talk or say anything but I did the Gator Chomp," he said. "I was pretty excited. Just gave it a little Gator Chomp and it was also for the fans. I think they kind of enjoyed it."
They've enjoyed three years of this guy. They've seen it all. The George Gipp speech, the fire, the perfect passes, the toughness.
But what makes him stand apart is that he delivers. A year ago after the Capital One Bowl, Tebow said he had to get better late in games. And in Florida's two biggest games of the season, he did just that. When players mouth off about him, he shuts them up where it counts — on the scoreboard. That speech after the Ole Miss loss was from the heart, but nobody anticipated the way Tebow delivered.
There are leaders who do it by example, who deliver with poise. Tebow is different. He leads like a linebacker. And his teammates will follow him anywhere.
Best ever? I'll take Tebow.
He's the No. 1 quarterback in the Big 12, SEC, America," said cornerback Joe Haden.
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