The story of Tim Tebow is one of an optimistic young quarterback trying to get a second chance. Despite poor throwing mechanics and the media circus that has followed him around the NFL, he just wants another opportunity to show that he, his great leadership and his winning attitude can triumph, the story goes.
Or does it?
David Fleming, in a piece set to run in ESPN The Magazine, took on the subject of why Tebow has had trouble finding work since being discarded by the Jets. He covers the usual territory, talking about how teams are staying far away from Tebow due to the attention he attracts as well as the considerable work his game still needs, even for a backup quarterback.
But where Fleming’s piece gets really interesting is when he veers off of what everyone knows — that the insane attention Tebow attracts has just become annoying — and touches on what he says is the real reason Tebow can’t find work.
“More troubling for potential employers is that Tebow struggled badly with the mental side of the game, according to a league source,” Fleming writes.
Fleming recaps how Tebow was diagnosed with dyslexia as a child. While forms of dyslexia vary, for Tebow, the learning disability can affect the way he reads playbooks or game plans, Fleming says. No matter how inherently smart, studious or hardworking the quarterback who had a 3.7 GPA at Florida is, it’s harder for him to sift through information and make decisions than it is for his quarterback peers.
“He scored a below-average (for QBs) 22 on his Wonderlic test,” Fleming writes. “As a kinesthetic learner, Tebow absorbs information better through using flashcards and hands-on repetitive experience than the traditional method of memorizing diagrams, notes and Polaroids from a playbook.
“That doesn’t mean Tebow isn’t smart or that he couldn’t develop into a brilliant, quick-thinking quarterback. It just hasn’t happened yet.”
Fleming detailed a few situations that showed how these struggles affected Tebow as he tried to become a successful starting quarterback. He said Tebow would have trouble remembering sequences of plays when coaches handed them off verbally on the sideline. He noted Tebow’s seven delay-of-game penalties in his 11 starts in 2011. He explained that Tebow rarely audibled because he couldn’t read defenses fast enough.
“And of all the deadly sins Tebow committed against quarterbacking, this was the worst: lacking the self-awareness to recognize and fix these shortcomings,” Fleming writes.
Tebow has had a long climb in trying to convince NFL teammates and coaches that he can not only play in the league but also excel. With his strong work ethic, great attitude and lauded leadership, many have wanted to give him a try.
This latest charge, however, changes the story again.
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