Tim Tebow proved you all wrong, you haters, you. He ended all the talk that said he couldn't succeed in the playoffs. He proved yet again that he's a winner and that anybody who doesn't think so is a loser or an atheist or whatever.
Look around. Listen in. That's the message being sent in the wake of the Broncos' 29-23 overtime victory over the Steelers in Sunday's AFC wild card playoff game. In the minds of his defenders, Tebow has once again silenced his critics.
Tebow was excellent on Sunday, but it's time for a Tebow defender to admit that, by now, the "haters" no longer really exist. The irrational hatred for Tebow is all but gone.
The stereotypical "Tebow Doubter" is now just a straw man that his most ardent defenders make up so they have someplace to direct their ire.
For sure, there are still those on the fringes who despise — or love — Tebow unconditionally. No matter what he does on the field, as long as he keeps being vocal about his religious beliefs and stays true to his faith, he'll have his reliable defenders and critics.
Just about everybody else who cares about NFL football, though, lies in the middle, far from those extremes. If you're really looking, it's difficult to find a rational fan who isn't impressed by Tebow's results but admits his technique is problematic.
Tebow's not a popular guy in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, right now, but that doesn't make Pittsburghers "haters" or "doubters." Tebow's religion has nothing to do with their disdain; they dislike him because he beat their team, which is more or less the way it goes for a playoff quarterback.
Even in New England, where we have our own quarterbacking deity in Tom Brady, there are quite a few Tebow fans who are putting aside their admiration of No. 15 for one week to root for their Patriots and No. 12. We didn't suddenly transform into heathens; we're simply football fans (although some people might argue there's not much of a difference).
Tebow will be analyzed all week, in the same manner Ben Roethlisberger, Joe Flacco or Andy Dalton would be. The analysts and experts will remark on how the Patriots will react to Tebow's long throwing motion, just as they would predict a certain defensive approach to Roethlisberger's balky ankle.
Tebow's game, not his character, will be the subject of the debate, which is what reasonable people have been trying to talk about for the past 11 weeks. Let's stop doing Tebow a disservice and allow that conversation to take place, without chasing the red herring known as the Tebow "doubter."
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