Inaccurate thrower? I can buy that.
Goofy throwing motion? Sure.
But he is a lot of things most of us can appreciate, if not admire. He is a full-bore competitor. His image is that of a fan-friendly, religious guy who just gets how to conduct himself the right way. Tim Tebow is difficult to hate because he just doesn't give anyone any reason to do so.
That doesn't mean he's immune from criticism. On ESPN Wednesday, former NFL running back and current analyst Merrill Hoge lit into Tebow's NFL skills.
"He is awful as far as accuracy goes and what's kind of even more disturbing, he's probably worse moving and running around with the football and throwing than he is from the pocket," Hoge said. "Can you get better there? A little bit. If everything is perfect, the pocket, your feet are good, all your fundamentals come into place, the coverage is what you want it, you can be successful. But that doesn't happen at the National Football League. Rarely does that happen."
This isn't a critique of Tebow as a football player. Hoge isn't saying he doesn't like Tebow the man. He's saying he doesn't like Tebow's football skills, and he doesn't think Tebow can be a successful NFL quarterback without making marked improvement in his skills.
Tebow took the high road, tweeting "Hey Merril...... 'ppreciate that" in response to the criticism.
NBA star LeBron James was apparently watching ESPN at the time. I guess he has nothing else to do with the NBA locked out until potentially the end of time.
James is clearly a fan of Tebow, and -- on Twitter -- he took the Hoge criticism of Tebow worse than Tebow did.
"Listened to Merril Hoge today on SC and he was just blasting Tebow. The man hasn't even play a full season and its only his 2nd year in," James wrote. "Guys get on that TV and act like they was all WORLD when they played. How bout encouraging him and wishing him the best instead of hating!!"
(I'll save the rant on how this is another example of the awesomeness of Twitter and how it's changed the sports world for the better. Needless to say, it's quite unlikely that we'd get such a strong -- and entertaining -- reaction from an NBA star regarding an ESPN commentator's criticism of an NFL quarterback were it not for Twitter.)
I understand James trying to defend someone he likes/respects/admires. To a certain extent, I also admire Tebow, and it's a reaction to look at Hoge's words and lash out.
But Hoge was simply doing his job.
If he sees the Denver Broncos employing a guy -- potentially -- as their starting quarterback who he doesn't believe has the skills to be a successful NFL starter, it's his job to lay that case out to his viewers. To not do that is a disservice to the viewers, and ESPN already does more than enough stuff that is a disservice to the viewers.
Debate the case Hoge made, but there's no debating his right or obligation to make that case, if that's how he really feels.
I know Kyle Orton was good last season, but the Broncos were 4-12. It's not like using Tebow as the starter will make them worse. That doesn't mean Tebow is the long-term solution, but given that teams aren't banging down the door trying to get Orton (Miami signed Matt Moore instead of making a trade), I don't think it's so easy as to just say Orton is the answer.