No player in the history of the NFL attracted as much pure, uncut stupid as Brett Favre, a figure whose appeal for stupid people exceeded all previous attractors.
Favre had an accent, and was proudly Mississippian. Consequently, stupid Southerners loved him for sounding like them, and stupid Northerners either catered to his "authenticity" or stupidly despised him for sounding hayseed. He played a reckless and irresponsible brand of football, and thus appealed to stupid people's important need for daring to overcome planning and discretion, while stupid NFL people hated those moments of improvisation precisely because they were improvised, and anything not catering to the NFL's myth of mechanistic perfection threatened the neatly arranged tool rack of their stupid lives.
Favre capped his long and very stupidly successful career by waffling through two different retirement dramas, stupidly passing two teams out of the playoffs, and stupidly sending pictures of his penis over a phone line to a Jets employee. Stupid people loved this because he was the ol' Gunslinger, and stupid people of another kind entirely got very mad about this and treated the matter of an erratic and aging quarterback as something of actual importance. In the end, he faded away and lives a stupid, happy life in Mississippi, occasionally saying stupid things about Aaron Rodgers.
It was a great run as a lightning rod for high-voltage stupidity, but enter our newest national magnet of stupid energy, Tim Tebow.
Tebow's run as the primary focus of stupid energy cannot possibly last as long as Brett Favre's, or at least sane citizens of these 50 assembled and very stupid states would hope not. For the health of the Republic, we would hope. I'm not saying there is a direct correlation between the two, but remember that Brett Favre's arrival in 1991 coincided with a recession, and that his waffling on retirement and descent into dramatic stupidity coincided with our nation's descent into the worst recession of our lifetimes. Brett Favre is not our famine vulture, but he may be one of its close friends. (You know, just pitchin' it around with Famine Vulture in the backyard.)
Nevertheless, let's examine why stupid people of all kinds feel the need to discuss Tim Tebow, if only so that you can arm yourself against them.
ONE: HE'S A QUARTERBACK.
Oh, man. Stupid people don't know about offensive or defensive linemen, but they expend a lot of energy caring about quarterbacks. "Jay Cutler doesn't have any heart!" they say, ignoring the Detroit LIons linemen stuck in his back. The quarterback has the ball, and therefore is responsible for everything. When he succeeds he is a demigod, and when he fails he is some conflagration of moral failure, character desertion, and "everything wrong about this country." Before you even get to any identifying characteristics of Tim Tebow, you're already cheek-to-jowl with stupid thanks to his chosen job on the football field. Quarterbacks are to stupid people as trash bins are to hungry bears: they're going to attack them with love or with malice, and the results look the same either way in the end.
TWO: HE'S RELIGIOUS.
This cuts two ways. Please note that I am about to type about "stupid religious people" and "stupid non-religious people." There are two groups, and both of them are stupid, an inherent trait having nothing to do with religion. You're stupid if you're on your knees on Sunday morning or laying in bed, and no amount of prayer or lack thereof changes that.
That said: stupid religious people feel very passionately about Tim Tebow because he is indeed very, very religious, and seem to think his entire career is some grand test of his faith. The even stupider assume his membership in a particular faith makes him a more deserving person than someone of equal or greater talent. They will root for him because they belong to the same club, and that is fine.
I do this all the time, too. For instance, I love Rex Grossman because he belongs to two clubs i claim membership in: the University of Florida, and the brotherhood of the error-prone. What I don't do, however, is assume stupid things like this:
"People, especially the media, root against him because of what he stands for," said Cross.
The 3-time Super Bowl champ added: "My personal belief is there are people in the media, people in the stands, who are predisposed to see a guy like that fail ... Just because he's so public about the way he feels."
The stupidest thing about this argument besides the argument itself: Cross is right. Stupid people who are not religious will assume because Tim Tebow is a football player that his religious beliefs are a.) an indictment of their own lack of religion, b.) ignoble because of the attempt to have any faith at all, or c.) ridiculous because of their sometimes dissonant political implications. This last group of people are the worst variety of stupid, mostly because they're getting politics in my football and are thus mixing dips at my party.
(If you mix dips at a party or with a shared appetizer, tell the cops I told you I would stab your hand with the fork before we even started. I want the "premeditated" part of the assault charge. It shows I was committed to a principle, and not just forking your wiggling hand to the table out of random malice.)
The final group of stupid people will say out loud "God wants him to succeed," or "God doesn't care about football," or "There is no God." If you know either of these things, then you are an internet person who likes to argue things on the internet, and there are millions of other people who would love to argue them with you. They're called stupid people, and they're just waiting for you out there so they can drive rhetoric and common sense into the open grave of a message board.
Stupid people like to argue about things they can never prove, while non-stupid people point to his throwing motion and inability to pass the ball and say, "Um, that might be a problem, and there is film to prove it."
THREE: HE IS DIFFERENT.
Tim Tebow is different. What someone is reasonably smart would suggest is that in the land of typical NFL QBs, he has some assets others do not, and lacks some assets others have. His throwing motion is endless: it starts somewhere around Monterrey, Mexico, detours up through Houston, takes a curlicue toward Texarkana, then makes a wild arc over Topeka and across the bison prairie towards Denver, where it's release point sends a clearly trackable ball somewhere between Los Angeles and Seattle.
Does this visual drive it home? That his throwing motion is long, and that it leaves the ball vulnerable to swatting defensive ends on the delivery, and open to interceptions by nimble NFL defensive backs on the other. This is a mechanical element, and one that will change only by degrees. He also is developing his defensive literacy as a pattern-reader, and will--for the moment at least-- require some tweaking in order to function effectively as an NFL quarterback. These are all reasonable things to say about Tim Tebow.
This does not mean that this conversation is not happening.
STUPID MERRILL HOGE: TIM TEBOW IS NOT A QUARTERBACK AARRGGGHHH HE IS A FULLBACK WHO THROWS THE BALL AND THIS CAN NEVER WORK IN THE NFL AAAAHHH I WANT TO KILL THAT GUY SO BAD JUST FOR NOT BEING ANDREW LUCK IT MAKES ME SO MAD I COULD TIE A TIE PROPERLY--
You're right! Tim Tebow isn't an NFL quarterback. He's better than an NFL quarterback, and he'll lead the Broncos to 11 Superb Bowls!
I HATE ANYTHING DIFFERENT FOR INSTANCE AT APPLEBEES THEY SAID TWO FOR TWENTY AND I SAID I'LL TAKE THAT AND BOOMER AND JESSE DIDN'T SHOW UP SO I HAD TO TALK TO MYSELF THE WHOLE TIME AND PRETEND I WAS SPLITTING TWO MEALS! DO YOU KNOW HOW EMBARRASSING IT IS TO GO THROUGH A WHOLE MEAL TALKING TO AN EMPTY BARSTOOL PRETENDING IT IS JESSE PALMER? AHHHHH THINGS MAKE ME ANGRRYYYYYYY--
This can and will go on long after any evidence contrary to either point has been proven misleading. For the moment Tim Tebow is a developing and likely doomed property in a league of tight personnel groupings and unforgiving speed. He could become something else, and that something else definitely being absolute in either direction is of extreme importance to the stupid of all persuasions.