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Dr. Saturday

Doc Five: Greatest college players with quietest NFL careers – No. 1, Tim Tebow

Frank Schwab
Dr. Saturday

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(USA Today Sports Images)

This offseason we will count down various topics from Monday through Friday, bringing you the top five of the important and definitely some not so important issues in college football. It's the Doc Five, every week until we will thankfully have actual games to discuss.

GREATEST COLLEGE PLAYERS WITH QUIETEST NFL CAREERS

NO. 1, TIM TEBOW

Let's assume Tim Tebow's NFL career is over, as some around him apparently believe, or that he won't become a NFL star. Maybe he has a Doug Williams or Doug Flutie type revival in him, but that would be an upset at this point.

If that's the case, how should we remember Tebow, next year or 30-40 years from now?

Here's how I think he'll be remembered, at least to most people: As a punchline. As a NFL bust. Michael Silver, in the first sentence of a story about Peyton Manning this week, said Manning's journey "was as choppy as a Tim Tebow pass through a stiff Mile High breeze." That's what he is, a synonym for bad quarterback play. The attention to Tebow has been so intense, he has been so polarizing as a player and his critics have dug in so hard that his NFL reputation will be hard to shake.

Here's how I think Tebow should be remembered: As the greatest college quarterback of all time.

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(USA Today Sports Images)

Fine, let's have the argument quickly. Who's better? Tebow finished first, third and fifth in the Heisman Trophy balloting his last three years. His first year, he was responsible for 13 touchdowns on a national championship team. He was part of three 13-1 seasons, and a 9-4 season. As a junior, he led the Gators to another national championship. He had a SEC record 57 rushing touchdowns, eight more rushing touchdowns than Herschel Walker. He also threw for 9,285 passing yards. He left Florida as the SEC's all-time career pass efficiency leader, better than Peyton Manning, Eli Manning or Archie Manning. If you want to argue against Tebow as the best, it'll be tough to come up with a more complete resume.

That's not what comes to mind when Tebow is mentioned anymore. I'm still not sure why there is such venom towards Tebow, by all accounts a good person who has been entirely overexposed through very little of his own doing. One media outlet in particular seemed to make it an inside joke to see if it could turn every fan against him by discussing him incessantly. There was simply no legitimate reason to give so much air time to the Jets' backup quarterback.

So that's probably Tebow's legacy now, at least to casual followers. The greatest college quarterback of all time will be known as a terrible quarterback, because he failed in the NFL (and he did throw for 316 yards in a playoff win over Pittsburgh once, which is more than many quarterbacks can say).

Like everyone else on this week's list, and others like Ron Dayne, Colt McCoy, Troy Smith, Danny Wuerffel, Matt Leinart and scores of others, it doesn't quite make sense why a player's college career needs to be validated by the NFL. They are two separate games. Tebow's lack of accuracy and inability to operate in the pocket kept him from being successful in the NFL. Then he got stuck with the Jets, getting caught in a personal war between the front office and coaching staff with a franchise that has no idea how to develop a quarterback (have you seen Mark Sanchez play? Good luck, Geno). None of that changes Tebow's college accomplishments, which stack up well with anyone who has ever played. They won't take his statue down at Florida because he didn't win a Super Bowl.

Maybe over time Tebow will get the Archie Griffin treatment, and his college greatness will overshadow a disappointing NFL career. But Griffin played in a different era, and he had a lot less attention paid to his inadequacies as a pro. When someone thinks about Tebow now, they'll probably roll their eyes or snicker. For those who remember how great he was at Florida, that just doesn't seem right.

Previously on "Doc Five"
5. Pat Fitzgerald
4. Ken Dorsey
3. Rashaan Salaam
2. Jason White

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