Thursday, November 17, 2011

Roll Over, Ambrose Bierce! Make Way For Gonzo Matt!

Disclaimer: Ye with no tolerance for blasphemy, so not enter here. That said, Gonzo Matt Taibbi goes nuts over Tebowmania and the resulting article ain't pretty. Tonight, the Denver Broncos play the NY Jets on the WTF-NFL Network. Disclosure: this blogger will honor the memory of his late Bronco-diehard father by going to his favorite sports bar ("Cover 3") to view Tebowmania versus the 46-Defense. While the Detroit Lions made short work of The Chosen One a few weeks ago, the Jets will be in a fever-frenzy and the faithful had better pray for The Chosen One. In the meantime, if this is (fair & balanced) "assassinative prose," so be it.

[x RS]
God Fumbles
By Matt Taibbi

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God must not know shit about football if Tim Tebow is his idea of an NFL quarterback.

We all saw this coming. A year and a half ago, every NFL fan base in the league held its collective breath before the draft, praying fervently that their team would not make the
fatal mistake of selecting Florida Gators icon Tim Tebow with a high draft choice.

If football is America's real national religion, then the faithful knew that Tebow was born to play the role of the backup QB, the clipboard-carrying Savior, the first-round pick who spends the early years of his career being the knife end that impatient fans plunge into the starting QB's back every time he takes a dumb sack or throws an ill-advised pass.

Nobody has ever been better cast for this role than Tebow. We've had our share of plucky, try-hard athletes who dominated in college and brought huge fan bases with them to the pros — think of Doug Flutie, J.J. Redick and Tyler Hansbrough — but Tebow has inspired more Great White Hope cliches than all of those guys combined.

Before he even set foot on an NFL field, it was football gospel that the beatific Gator was a "great competitor" with "great intangibles," who was a "born leader," breathless descriptions that, in addition to being a galling overt insult to the thousand-plus other true NFL tough guys who apparently have been shallow, half-assing jerks all these years, carried with them one powerful underlying message: Tebow sucks.

Every man on Earth knows what it means when a guy describes a woman as having a "great personality," and yet somehow tens of thousands of grown men didn't know what it meant when one football analyst after another kept talking about how Tebow was a "special person." Watching Tebow play quarterback is an embarrassing, painful experience; the poor kid takes 10 minutes to pass the ball, and if he has to make more than one read in a play, his brain locks up like a truck axle caught on a tree branch, and he ends up either throwing the ball straight into the ground or running face-first into the defensive line.

In that respect, Tebow's first start, against the hapless Miami Dolphins, was one of the most amazing sports contests ever shown on television, with Tebow freezing at the sight of one open receiver after another while Dolphins coach Tony Sparano similarly stood dumbfounded, like a man whose brain was being eaten by beetles, as he made one catastrophic call after another. Seeing Sparano's late decision to go for two, despite being up by two scores, was like watching a man stand up in the middle of a live-fire exercise."

Yet when it was all over, and Tebow had "won" the game when his counterpart Matt Moore fumbled in field-goal range in overtime, the media orgy was fully on.

TIM-TASTIC! shouted The Denver Post. A new website appeared, celebrating the act of "Tebowing," defined as kneeling in celebratory prayer, "even if everyone else around you is doing something completely different." People around the world sent in photos of themselves "Tebowing" — soldiers abroad Tebowing, guys on forklifts Tebowing, old ladies and their miniature dogs Tebowing, etc. And the NFL's official website stooped to a new low when it marketed Tebow's next game, against the Detroit Lions and their fearsome front seven, as "Good versus Evil."

The NFL, of course, has seen plenty of extremely religious athletes before, including all-time stars like Reggie White and Kurt Warner, but it never sunk to marketing those players' godliness — for the obvious reason that you don't have to market a player's religion when the guy can, you know, actually play.

None of this, was Tebow's fault. A twentysornething kid who's just trying to make it in sports has no control over millions of fans and armies of sportswriters turning him into a symbol of righteousness and a warrior in the fight against cultural relativism. Nor does Tebow have any control over all the preposterous things that have been said oflate in a desperate attempt to preserve his legend, not the least of which being a Fox Sports columnist who hinted that Tebow's failures were the result of a Denver coaching staff bent on "sabotaging" him in order to escape from the media frenzy.

And yet, when Tebow came out in his next game and lost to Detroit, 45-10, turning in one of the worst performances in the history of quarterbacking, there was something perversely satisfying about the spectacle.

Witnessing the Tebowmania phenomenon get pulverized under a torrent of ruthless hits by Detroit's Ndamukong Suh, Cliff Avril and Stephen Tulloch (who deliciously "Tebowed" after a sack of the Chosen One) was a little like reliving Clarence Darrow's savage cross-examination of William Jennings Bryan at the Scopes Monkey Trial. In both cases you came away feeling sorry for the defeated, but it was just something that had to be done, like putting away an old dog with cloudy eyes. Ω

[As Rolling Stone’s chief political reporter (and sometime sportswriter), Matt Taibbi's predecessors include the likes of Hunter S. Thompson and P.J. O'Rourke. Taibbi has written Spanking the Donkey: On the Campaign Trail with the Democrats (2005); Smells Like Dead Elephants: Dispatches from a Rotting Empire (2007); The Great Derangement: A Terrifying True Story of War, Politics & Religion at the Twilight of the American Empire (2008); and Griftopia: A Story of Bankers, Politicians, and the Most Audacious Power Grab in American History (2011). Taibbi graduated from Bard College in 1991.]

Copyright © 2011 Rolling Stone

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