Tim Tebow (And LeBron James) Vs. Merrill Hoge: Who Ya Got?

Tim Tebow has been in a heated battle with Kyle Orton for the starting quarterback job out in Denver, and this week, some voices from around the country (LeBron James, ESPN's Merril Hoge) decided to add their two cents. Whose side are you on? Plus: Looking back at college Randy Moss, looking forward to athlete's offspring, and enjoying a sandwich with Bill Belichick. Talking Points is a series that highlights some of the best stories in sports (and elsewhere). Read the archives here.

To review: Tim Tebow enjoyed a moderately successful finish to his rookie season, and this year he was expected to start for the Denver Broncos, if only because the Denver Broncos were expected to trade their previous starter, Kyle Orton, sometime during the free agency period. They didn't do that, though, and have been staging a quarterback battle instead. Which is (partly) how this happened:

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Indeed, we're now faced with a simple choice: Either side with LeBron James, or Merrill Hoge, the ESPN analyst who went all nuts on Twitter earlier this week. Here's the transcript (via Yahoo!):

Sitting watching tape of Bronco offense from last year! Orton or Tebow? It's embarrassing to think the broncos could win with tebow!!

Orton or tebow? QB play is not just about who works hard gives rare rare college speeches or who is a good guy!! Because orton works hard and is a good guy as well.

It's about who can play!! I just watched Tebow throw 5 out routes to a wide open WR! He was 1 for 5! 2 went in Dirt 2 in the stands!

That throwing motion he changed? U can't change who u r! Just watched 2 throws and he throws like he did in college!!

You must possess a skill set to play! Tebow struggles with accuracy!

And then there's LeBron James, defending Tebow for some reason. "Tim Tebow will succeed in the NFL," he tweeted.  "He's a hard worker, a student of the game, a natural born leader and most of all a WINNER! It takes time and he'll be nice. 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. 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!!"

And... This leaves the rest of us in a tough spot.

On the one hand... Merril Hoge finds himself in a perpetual arms race with Mark Schlereth to see who can be the dumbest analyst on television, and agreeing with him feels like sacrilege. If the NFL's one, big Moron Soap Opera, Hoge is one of the biggest stars.

On the other hand... LeBron James is LeBron James and LeBron James sucks.

Plus, it sorta sounds like Tebow is every bit as overrated as Hoge suggests. As Sports Illustrated's Jim Trotter reported on Broncos QB battle earlier this week, "If it were strictly a football decision, it would be a no-brainer at this point. ... Tebow has just three career starts, completing only 49.4 percent of his passes in them with four touchdowns and three interceptions. ... he clearly has some catching up to do if the objective is to win now."

The lesson here has nothing to do with who's right, of course. Maybe he's overrated, maybe he's not. Maybe the Broncos should start him to find out once and for all this season, especially since Kyle Orton's not exactly poised to vault them into the playoffs. Whatever.

No, what's important to remember in all this is that only Tebow could create this story. And in case you'd forgotten why it's perfectly acceptable to root against Tim Tebow, we now have the perfect reminder. It's never about football with Tebow, because that conversation would always be kinda boring. He may not be overrated, he may be every bit as good as Kyle Orton (woo!).

But no matter how good he becomes one day, Tim Tebow will always be one of the most annoying humans in sports. Can't you picture the stupid grin on his stupid face when he sent this stupid tweet?

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Now, then: Talking Points!

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Reliving An Insane Week In Free Agency. Part one of my free agency recap is over here, and now that things have finally begun to settle a little bit around the NFL, it's time to look back at maybe the chaos we just lived through. This piece from National Football Post provides some good perspective on that front. An agent's perspective, to be exact.

I had one AFC north team call me to tell me they would call me at 10:00 am on Tuesday the 26th to talk to me about my client ... They were under the impression they could not talk to agents and thought they were actually cheating by calling me on Monday.

Meanwhile at 6:05pm est, the Steelers called me in hot pursuit of undrafted safety Brett Greenwood from Iowa. They wanted me to agree to a deal. I said we have to wait until tomorrow after 10:00 am. Their cap guy said “no” because he told me that they just received a memo from the league saying that they can start negotiating contracts but can’t sign until the following day at 10:00 am.

It's still crazy to think that for the first 24 hours after the lockout was lifted, the majority of teams in the NFL's multi-billion dollar business weren't sure what the exact rules and deadlines were for free agency.

Also interesting to see the free agent business behind the scenes, with anecdotes like this:

On Tuesday, veteran DT Kelly Gregg called to tell me he was being released by the Ravens and that they may want to sign him back. I called their cap guy to see if they would make a run at him and at what price, but I never received a return call so I assumed they were done with him. I then put out press release alerting the league that Kelly will be available come Friday after the waiver period ends. Teams were not allowed to talk to me officially until after 4:00 est on Friday. So I waited until then hoping more teams would show interest. Sure enough I had 4 calls between 4:00pm and 5:00 est. About three hours before 4:00 I received a call from John Harbaugh letting me know they wanted Kelly back but at a reduced amount (less than half of his original salary of $3.5 million).

For more, check out National Football Post.

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An Old, Great Read On Randy Moss. Imagine if the most electrifying player in college football played Division 1-AA. Sure, you'll see plenty of NFL guys that come from 1-AA and go on to NFL success, but Randy Moss was just as good back in college as he was in the NFL. It'd be like creating the perfect player in a video game, and then, just to see what happens, putting him on some random team like Delaware. Or Marshall.

So, since hindsight makes things like this ten times cooler, here's a profile of Randy Moss, back when he was tearing things up for the Thundering Herd. Still kind of surreal.

Marshall took Moss in last summer after his chances elsewhere had dwindled to nothing, and he was instantly recognized as the best player on the practice field. He then strolled through Marshall's Southern Conference schedule like a grown man dropped into Pop Warner games. His teammates called him the Freak. In the Division I-AA title game, a 49-29 rout of Montana, Moss caught four touchdown passes to tie the single-season college record of 28 set by Jerry Rice in 1984 as a senior. Then, in February, Moss entered the Southern Conference indoor track championships after only three days of practice and won the 55 meters in 6.32 seconds and the 200 meters in 21.15—just .02 off the conference record.

[...]

Coming off its second Division I-AA national championship, Marshall will this year complete a remarkable resurrection with a trio of milestones. The Thundering Herd, long overshadowed by upstate rival West Virginia, will enter the Mountaineers' class on Aug. 30 by joining Division I-A, rejoining the MAC and opening the season with its first game against West Virginia since 1923. Yet nothing legitimizes the Marshall program more than Moss...

So how good was Randy Moss? Good enough to almost single-handedly vault a D-2 program into Division 1. Also, really loved college-aged Randy droppin' some knowledge: "There's a lot of jealousy, man, and jealousy is downfall. ... Jealousy, player haters—you've got 'em all in Huntington."

Anytime you can use Biggie lyrics to describe small-town West Virgina... Hey, go for it.

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In Keeping With The "1997 College Football" Theme... Over at EDSBS today, Spencer Hall is a sportswriter from 1997, breaking down the 2011 Top 25 rankings that came out today.

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Get To Know Shawn Kemp, Jr. A reminder that we're in 2011, not 1997: almost 15 years after Shawn Kemp owned the NBA, Shawn Kemp, Jr. is now one of the most sought-after recruits in America. Over at Yahoo!, Jeff Eisenberg put together a nice profile of Kemp, who actually grew up without his father.

That Kemp can shrug his shoulders and insist his father's absence "really didn't affect me at all" is enough to elicit a slight chuckle from his mom. She remembers a time when Kemp all but boycotted basketball out of the desire to carve a different path than his father's.

Although his dad was a six-time NBA All-Star, his uncle played professionally overseas and his mom also had a passion for basketball from growing up in a hoops-crazed family, Kemp neither played nor watched the sport as a kid. The hoop his mom put up in their front yard soon after they moved to Georgia sat mostly unused until Kemp finally expressed interest in joining his school's basketball team in eighth grade.

I'm not sure who I'm more excited to root for in the coming years: Shawn Kemp Jr., Barry Sanders Jr., or Ray Lewis III. And why haven't we heard anything about Allen Iverson's kids yet?

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Um, Here's Taylor Swift Covering An Eminem Song. If hip-hop wasn't dead already...

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And Here's Knicks Owner James Dolan... Making a fool of himself.

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Finally, Here's Bill Belichick Teaching You How To Make Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwiches. Moments like this are why I'm glad the internet exists. A few notes.

  1. Only Bill Belichick would have a "secret" recipe for PB&J.
  2. His co-host seems like an old SNL character. Just imagine Chris Farley saying everything that the host does, and you'll see.
  3. "Mothers are divine, aren't they?"
  4. "Ohhh, and chunky peanut butter, that's quite a risk!"
  5. It really seems like one, big parody, especially when the giddy host says, "Maybe next week you can share the recipe for that ham and cheese I've heard so much about." Parody or not, though, this is how I've always imagined all local programming in Cleveland.

Without further ado...

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