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Tim Tebow and Broncos Humiliated; Tebowmania Remains Strong
Thousands of years ago, the ancient festival of Samhain marked the beginning of the "darker half" of the year, when the harvest ended and daylight became scarce.
With the traditional date for Samhain just two days away (November 1), Denver Broncos fans are having a hard time imagining this year could get any darker, with an embarrassing loss to the Detroit Lions, 45-10.
Yes, at this point the costumes are about as good as the execution gets for the Broncos and their fans.
Of course the most popular costume at Sports Authority Field was easy to guess: there were more no. 15 jerseys than any other Broncos player in history.
And while the blame certainly can't all be put on Tim Tebow, it likely will be, at least by most. He wasn't the one that missed his coverage assignment when Titus Young(notes) was left wide open for a touchdown in the first quarter. He wasn't the one that hit Matthew Stafford(notes) as he threw, only to see him complete the pass to Calvin Johnson(notes). He wasn't on one of the best defensive lines in the NFL, giving himself fits throughout the game.
But none of that matters here in Denver—it will be all about Tebow, whether chastising or excusing.
As long as I've lived here, I've never seen another sports figure as popular and as polarizing as Tim Tebow—aside, of course, from John Elway. And just like we did with Elway, the citizens of Denver are ready to put either every single success or every single failure on Tim Tebow's shoulders.
And not just the successes and failures in the game of football: Sweet deal on a used car? Tebow it. Coffee spill on the way to work? Tebow's fault.
As the closing seconds of the first half ticked away, and Tim Tebow closed it out with a long ball launched well into the Lions' sideline and out of reach, fans were holding out hope for another magical comeback. But as the second half opened with a Tebow fumble returned for a touchdown, it was indeed looking like Samhain was near. As the sunlight faded on Sports Authority Field and an autumn chill set in, a sense of darker days ahead settled over the crowd.
But let's be clear about this: none of this—the mistakes, the poor throws, the struggles—means Tim Tebow and his polarizing, cartoonish level of fame are going away anytime soon. If anything, it means the conversation will only heat up.
It won't matter. Tebowmania isn't going anywhere.
For some, the idea of Samhain sounds like it's all doom and gloom. But it is still a celebration—it marks the Celtic New Year. It's a time to reflect on the past, and look forward to what the new year will bring.
If there's one message Tebow has always brought with him, whether in the game of football, in an autobiography or at the bedside of a sick child, it's that you should never stop believing that things will get better.
And that's why, despite the fact that at one point in this game the number of sacks outnumbered the number of Tebow completions, his fans haven't given up. Whether you're a Christian like Tebow, a Celtic druid or a member of any other number of belief systems represented in the stands of Sports Authority field on Sunday, it's extremely difficult not to root for his message:
Just keep believing, and it will get better.
Tomorrow there will be a lot of talk, a lot of told you so's. Tebow will, as usual, be equally excused, exalted and defamed.
But it won't matter. He won't go away.
He, and his fans, will continue to believe.
And, perhaps foolishly, I will probably be one of them.
For those of us who have been through dark times—not just in terms of a football team struggling with the extremely poor personnel decisions of the previous administration, but life-changing events—Tim Tebow's message reminds us why we watch the game.
Even if Tebow only gets one more start, or no more starts, he brought something to Denver that hasn't been here in a long time. He got us talking with each other, arguing with each other, engaging with each other. He got us to remember that we don't come together just to watch men play a funny game; we come together for football because it means participating in something bigger than ourselves. It brings us back to the most fundamental aspect of what being human means: spending time with each other.
Kyle Orton(notes) never could have provided that. Sure, he would have had more completions against the Lions, but he couldn't have provided the fans with talking points, or the viral website, all of which—regardless of today's outcome—have given the City of Denver something to look forward to.
Even if Tebow fails miserably in Denver, whoever comes after him will be expected to have the same level of fortitude. Even when it was well out of hand, Tebow was willing to put his body on the line, just to give the fans something to cheer about. What remained of the crowd erupted wildly when Eric Decker(notes) finally broke through for a Broncos touchdown in the fourth quarter. They wanted the team to know that they, too, believe.
This Samhain, in the midst of nationwide protests, a shaky economy and all of our own personal crises, a sense of hope is making its way into the thin air of Denver. We know things need to change, we know there are a lot of problems with this team—but we're all secretly Tebowing inside. Whether the answer lies in Tebow, a draft pick in 2012, or even more likely an as of yet unforeseen event, we're finally looking forward and enjoying ourselves. We're enjoying being with each other and having something in common to talk about.
The fervent fanhood of Tebow is certainly shortsighted, unrealistic and a case of viewing life through rose-colored glasses. But maybe that's OK.
It reminds us that even in the face of darkness there is opportunity for joy. And for that reason, no matter how bad it gets, don't expect Tebowmania to go away.
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