The sentiment of Denver Broncos fans last Monday night at Sports Authority Field at Mile High seemed to be a common one. After a lackluster performance in the 20-23 loss to the rival Oakland Raiders, Broncos quarterback Kyle Orton heard what the fans were chanting.
“Te-bow. Te-bow. Te-bow.”
It had to be beyond frustrating for Orton. The Raiders defense was seemingly meeting you in the backfield on every passing play. While you stand on the sideline after another unsuccessful drive, you have to watch Oakland do with relative ease what your team hasn’t been able to do all night…run the ball. After the skies open up and make things wet and more miserable, you finally see a possible break and an opportunity to get back in the game when an open tight end crosses in front of you. All he lacks is the ball. As you attempt to make the pass for the sure touchdown, the football slips out of your hand. You fumble the ball and give up the turnover. You walk to the bench, already in disgust over the botched play, when you hear the Broncos faithful, who it seems have never really been behind you since you were brought here to replace a star in the making, chant your back-up’s name.
If the second string guy isn’t who he is, Orton wouldn’t hear anything from the fans at the stadium except the traditional boos and jeers that come with a rough showing in a game. It’s said that the back-up quarterback is always the most popular guy on the team when it struggles, but in this case, the fans are calling for change, by name, before the first game of the season is even over. It seems to be too much, too early. But alas, Tim Tebow is who he is, and it is what it is, and Orton can thank Tebow’s past accomplishments for his current unpleasant treatment.
Tebow’s success at the University of Florida created an almost cult-like following of devoted fans, who’s sheer number of members far exceed the amount of fans any other single football player could ever boast of. Tebow helped lead the Gators to two National Championship victories, as well as earning a personal victory by being named the Heisman Trophy winner in 2007. Along with his elite play, his wholesome demeanor and the seemingly constant attention from the media helped fuel his fans love for him. Then when it was time to go pro, Tebow’s fans followed him to the Denver Broncos after the team selected him in the first round in 2010, where the prominent display of #15 jerseys in the stands were a sure sign that not only did the Tebow fan base fail to lose any steam in the transition, but it gained momentum with new, longtime Broncos fans jumping on the Tebow bandwagon.
Orton’s prior achievements before coming to Denver were far less spectacular. While he had success at Purdue University, he won no Heisman’s, no National Championships, no major honors that would put him in the spotlight to be cherished. He was only a fourth round pick by the Chicago Bears in 2005, but he had a fairly successful run at quarterback in his three seasons there. But still, no love from the fans or media. Then he came to Denver, where he put up very respectable personal numbers, including throwing for over 3,500 yards and 20+ touchdowns in both 2009 and 2010, respectively. But still, he is thought of by most fans to be nothing more than a serviceable quarterback until someone better can be brought in.
A large majority of Broncos fans believe that someone better is Tim Tebow. They saw his success and his leadership abilities from college and they feel that it will carry over into the professional ranks. The images of Tebow hoisting Lombardi Trophies and giving Hall of Fame speeches have already rolled like a movie in fan’s minds, and that could make the reality hard to live up to the vision. Whether or not these images will actually take place is yet to be seen, but the expectations of Tebow being a great NFL quarterback are just as great as the amount of love given to him every Sunday by his fans.
Tim Tebow has achieved great success in his football career, and with it came the deserved admiration of those who are in awe of it. Due to these achievements, his fans believe that he is owed a fair shot to show what he can do in the NFL. Until he gets that chance, Kyle Orton will be under his shadow, with every bad pass, every sack, every interception, and every fumble bringing more and more chants for the back-up.
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