Friday, April 23, 2010

04/23 Quickie: Tebow, Obviously

Ironically, I don't have a ton to add from last night's post-draft post.

The overall reaction seems to be "What a surprise!" I know I'm impossibly biased, but by yesterday morning, I really didn't see Tebow not getting taken in the 1st round. (Given that I had Tebow going to the Vikings and had heavily discounted him going to the Broncos, I will claim some surprise that it was Denver who got him. I didn't read those tea leaves closely enough, obviously.)

The second most-popular reaction seems to be "What a risk for Josh McDaniels!" I would qualify it as a calculated risk: McDaniels is a QB development guru, so if he thinks he can work with Tebow, I believe he can.

And, in the short term, McDaniels is among the few coaches who I think can creatively design situational plays -- short-yardage or goal-line -- to maximize Tebow's talents. And I think the opportunity is wide open for Tebow to start in 2011.

But the overall vibe is that Tebow was THE story of the Draft last night. Consider that: The 25th pick of the Draft eclipsed not just everyone in front of him, but a draft that was kicked off by a QB being taken with the No. 1 overall pick, usually a lock for "Story of the Draft."

I'm going to dig into all this more on TimTeblog a little later today, but the foreshadowing was in my final tweet last night: Tebow exceptionalism has been proven over and over again. At some point, doubting should become benefit-of-the-doubt. The default should be that he will succeed.

Tebow even influenced the second-biggest storyline of the draft -- Jimmy Clausen's freefall out of the 1st round. It was a study in contrasts, right down to the humiliation of Mel Kiper -- who dogged Tebow for months while putting Clausen as the No. 4 overall pick on his "Big Board."

I'm sure Clausen will go quickly in the 2nd round. Again, this was just a schadenfreudy humiliation -- it's no indication of his future pro success or failure.

More in today's SN column:

*Good morning after for Lions fans. A rare good morning.

*I love the Colts' pick of Jerry Hughes at the end of the 1st.

*Pete Carroll did really well: Solidifies OT and DB.

*That was the best game of Kevin Durant's career.

*That was probably the best game of Derrick Rose's career.

*Ubaldo Jimenez affirms he is an elite starting pitcher.

*I am so underwhelmed by the 68-team tournament (UNLESS they make the play-in game for the 12-seed, which would be kind of awesome).

*Will Elin just divorce Tiger already?

Complete SN column here. More later.

-- D.S.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Tim Tebow Drafted by Broncos

I am still processing the events of the night:

*Tim Tebow was, in fact, a 1st-round NFL Draft pick. Not only that, but he was the only QB taken in the 1st round besides the No. 1 overall pick, Sam Bradford.

*The Broncos are a curious fit: They have Orton and Quinn -- hardly long-term solutions at QB. But McDaniels is a Belichick protege, and Tebow (and Urban Meyer) are Belichick-friendly.

*So I guess I'm a Broncos fan now, hunh? I already got multiple texts from a friend in Denver welcoming me to the fan base. Tebow's Broncos jersey will be a Top 10 seller in the NFL in 2010.

*The biggest loser of the night was not the undrafted Jimmy Clausen -- it was Mel Kiper, who had Clausen ranked as the No. 4 overall prospect of the draft. It is a discrediting moment.

*"Tim Tebow Draft" is the No. 1 most searched term on Google tonight. What a bookend to the "John 3:16" Google domination in January 2009 that convinced Tebow to return to school.

If you want, find more over at

-- D.S.

Tebow Draft Day: Renewed NFL Fandom

Well, everyone knew this was coming: Without a real NFL allegiance -- I think we can all agree the Jaguars thing, um, didn't really work out -- I was always going to adopt the team that drafted Tebow. And, on Tebow Draft Day, here is the post that lays it all out:

Let's start with a confession: I enjoy the NFL -- though not nearly as much as college football -- but I don't have a particular NFL team I root for. I mean: I have my fantasy team. But that isn't the same thing.

This is strange. Everyone should have a favorite NFL team -- it's the most popular sport in the country. It just feels... wrong. I envy the folks with a strong NFL allegiance -- feels like almost everyone has one.

I used to have a team...

The onset of puberty and fan identity happen at roughly the same time. Immersion into your favorite team – into sports more generally – helps to offset the awkwardness of a cracking voice or unsettling sight of hair in weird places; hormones dictate that girls get more interesting – but still socially awkward, you throw yourself into love of your team.

For me, that was the unstoppable 1985 Bears. Growing up in a die-hard Redskins town, I was a Bears fan. On its surface, that was because my dad was a Bears fan – there was an early and powerful father-son connection to be made there. But looking back, there was a deeper interest for me: Displaced fandom made me unique, gave me an identity as a fan. I could be a Skins fan like the rest of ‘em… or the only Bears fan in the school.

At this age, I was an outlier: The more typical path of the emotionally and physically awkward 13-year-old fan is to find a new community – commonality – with other fans around them. Fan identity is incubated in a safe environment – not so for me.

And so I was a Bears fan. I suffered through the Redskins' success (often at the Bears' expense) and reveled in the 1985 domination. When it came time to go to college, I was headed to Northwestern, just outside of Chicago. To be able to root for my favorite football team up close seemed like the best kind of bonus.

As it happened, it didn't quite turn out like I expected. I actually became less of a Bears fan once I got to Chicago -- in part in my immersion into a town of crazy Bears fans. It was like I lost the "unique" part of my fandom that was such a big component of my fan identity.

From there, things atrophied further. In 1997, I actually went to go work for the NFL, and if it wasn't seriously eroded by then, upon the conclusion of my one season with the league, the dissolution of my NFL fandom was complete.

Very briefly, I found a new spark of interest -- the emergence of Kurt Warner, which I think is the most interesting story in NFL history. Once I started writing the Daily Quickie, I obviously was immersed in NFL news, but that didn't do anything for my individual NFL team fandom. I was still lost.

In 2006, I tried an odd experiment: Given the assignment from Deadspin to write the Jacksonville Jaguars season preview, I adopted the Jaguars as my own. They seemed an interesting fit: There aren't many of them out there, and the north Florida location seemed like a pretty good fit with my then-5-year-old Florida Gators fandom.

I tried. I really did. (I also recognize if "real" Jaguars fans were offended by my bandwagon-hopping.) But it just didn't take. I couldn't watch them every Sunday -- hell, even fans in Jacksonville can't watch them on TV every Sunday -- and I just didn't have a passion to keep up with them.

But around the same time -- fall of 2006 -- I recognized almost immediately that Tim Tebow was my favorite football player of all time. That only grew in 2007 -- as I'm sure it did for many people. It compounded in 2008, and -- obviously -- my interest in the subject intensified in 2009.

It was sometime after that first season with the Jaguars -- and first season with Tebow -- that I decided that, ultimately, I was going to end up rooting for whatever team Tim Tebow was drafted to.

If you thought it was odd that my fandom for Florida came when I met my wife -- who was a "real," born-and-raised Gators fan -- it might seem even more odd that I would pick an NFL team based on a specific player.

Maybe that's not the case. I know a lot of fans -- particularly ones I see on message boards -- who care about their college team but don't have a particularly strong NFL allegiance who root for their favorite college players on whatever NFL team they end up on.

Now, that's not the same as being a fan of that team -- whoever is on that team. It is actually the opposite: You are a fan of a team precisely because of who is on that team. This can cause complications.

For example: If Tebow is drafted by the Vikings, I will definitely root for the Vikings and want to watch the Vikings play -- as a function of being a Tebow fan. If things go awry and Tebow ends up on the Patriots in four years, I presume I would stop rooting for the Vikings and pick up rooting for the Pats.

This cannot possibly do anything but make Vikings fans cringe -- I'm not even sure they would want me. Then again, this is the fan base that went from loathing Brett Favre to cheering him in the span of a week; they hardly can claim a problem with someone else's bandwagon fandom.

And so in addition to the next phase of Tim Tebow's career beginning tonight, I look forward to the next phase of my own career as a sports fan -- I'm ready to pick up and root for the team that Tebow plays for, whether the fans of that team want me or not. I will buy the jersey. I will read the coverage. I will watch the games.

Does it matter that my interest is focused specifically on Tebow? I don't think a team's existing fan bases are in a position to be turning away new converts.

Obviously, fandom is not just fundamentally social but also intensely personal.

To that extent, the team's existing fans are hardly in a position to judge the level or intensity or focus of my fandom. (Although I'm sure there will be plenty of judging going on -- much of it not positive.)

But they should count me in.

My transformation -- or, I guess, evolution -- continues tonight. And I get the feeling that there are many folks out there who root for Tebow who will be joining me. He presents a cult of personality unlike any athlete in sports right now. I'm not sure any team's marketing department or existing fans understand that yet.

But they will.

-- D.S.

Quick Note on That ESPN Tebow Column

If you saw that column today about Tebow, there was this:
Tebow was in New York making an appearance for EA Sports, which chose him to be the cover boy of its 2010 NCAA video game, hoping to tap into his folk-hero status. Just across the room waiting to talk to him next sat a blogger who had earlier joked (sort of) to me that he'd secretly hoped Tebow might be persuaded to perform a circumcision on his infant son.
But that should come as no surprise to readers here, who would recognize that from this not-so-secret post back in October 2008. (Although yes, the post was a joke. Sort of.)

04/22 Quickie: NFL/Tebow Draft Day

Well OBVIOUSLY I was going to lead today's SN column with a brief overview of Tim Tebow's draft prospects -- which I've given the shorthand "WWTG?" (Where Will Tebow Go?)

Let's start with this: Unless Ben Roethlisberger is traded, where Tebow goes tonight -- if he goes at all (more on that in a sec) -- will be the No. 1 story of the draft, fairly remarkable if you consider that he is hardly considered a Top 10 (even 1st round) talent.

Speaking of which, the big question is: Will Tebow go in the 1st round? Consider that the conventional wisdom, up until a week ago, was "2nd round" -- and that was considered some kind of inflation. Now, the conventional wisdom is presuming he will go in the 1st, with it being a surprise (if not a shock) if he goes in the 2nd.

More personally, let's also remember that tonight marks the start of a new NFL fan allegiance for me. (More on that later today.)

There's tons more in today's column:
*I love the new draft format, and I think there are all sorts of fascinating unforeseen consequences coming in the 18 hours between 11 pm tonight and 6 pm tomorrow.

*Big Ben: Well the Steelers kind of HAVE to trade him now.

*Roy Halladay: 30 wins or bust!

*I'm briefly but earnestly obsessed with Pete Carroll's Twitter feed.

See the whole thing here. More later.

-- D.S.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

2010 NFL Tim Tebow Mock Draft

Given that Tim Tebow is the biggest storyline of the 2010 NFL Draft -- who will draft him? where will he go? is he a 1st-rounder? will someone trade up for him? -- it seems fitting to create a 2010 NFL Mock Draft composed entirely of... Tim Tebow.

1. St. Louis Rams: Tim Tebow, QB Florida. If the NFL Draft was about selecting the most popular or compelling player -- or, say, the best player in college football history -- Tebow is a lock at No. 1. But it's not. It's apparently about selecting some idealized version of "NFL quarterback," despite his flimsy shoulder.

2. Detroit Lions: Tim Tebow, QB Florida.
If marketing mattered as much as winning, the Lions would seriously consider taking Tebow and finding a way to get him in the game -- or certainly on the front of the marketing collateral. As it stands, they have their franchise QB. Detroit fans would have loved Tebow, though.

3. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Tim Tebow, QB Florida.

If the Bucs didn't take the Tebow-esque Josh Freeman in the 1st round a year ago, Tampa would be right up there with the Bills and Jags as teams that might-just-might be convinced to take Tebow as a Top 10 pick. They still flashed a little regional interest back at Tebow's Pro Day. But not for this pick.

4. Washington Redskins: Tim Tebow, QB Florida.
The Redskins were on the original short list of teams interested in Tebow -- one of the first to want to bring him in for a workout. Then they traded for Donovan McNabb, giving up their high-2nd-round pick (more likely to be used on Tebow than the No. 4 overall pick), and the D.C. dream ended.

5. Kansas City Chiefs: Tim Tebow, QB Florida.
"Transitive property" at work here: Chiefs GM Scott Pioli comes from the Belichick Mafia. Belichick, of course, loves Urban Meyer and Tebow. KC has bigger needs here than duplicating a position they invested in so heavily a year ago -- but maybe a Tebow trade partner with the Pats in the early 2nd round?

6. Seattle Seahawks: Tim Tebow, QB Florida
Another team on the short list of teams that originally expressed a lot of interest in Tebow. It makes a lot less sense since Pete Carroll traded Seattle's 2nd-round pick and cash for Charlie Whitehurst as the presumptive heir to Matt Hasselbeck. Vast needs for Seattle here beyond another QB.

7. Cleveland Browns: Tim Tebow, QB Florida
The Browns seem as interested in Tim Tebow as any team in the league -- right up there with the Bills. They need a QB to develop. They need a face of the franchise. Tebow offers both, but the No. 7 spot will simply be too much for Mike Holmgren. But that doesn't mean Cleveland won't get him.

8. Oakland Raiders: Tim Tebow, QB Florida
Another team on the Tebow short list. Al Davis is a little crazy -- but not crazy enough to take Tebow with the No. 8 overall pick. (Keep reading down to my special 2nd-round preview, because I think that Oakland still offers the floor for Tebow's draft position.)

9. Buffalo Bills: Tim Tebow, QB Florida
At least a few mock drafters have put Tebow here; that's how interested the Bills supposedly are. I don't even rank this on my Tebow Draft Scenarios, but I do think that there is a better chance than for any other team that Buffalo exits the first round of the NFL Draft with Tebow in tow.

10. Jacksonville Jaguars: Tim Tebow, QB Florida
Gosh, remember when "Tebow to the Jags at No. 10" was it? Done deal. Case closed. The Jags would follow the marketing hype -- and, to be fair, the idea that in 3 years they will need a franchise QB to replace Garrard. But now? Basically zero buzz that the Jags will take him here.

11. Denver Broncos: Tim Tebow, QB Florida
Lots of discussion when Denver brought Tebow in for a workout on Monday, but given that they just traded for Brady Quinn, it is entirely unlikely that the Broncos would use the No. 11 on Tebow. If they want him, they have two 2nd-rounders (43, 45), but will need to package them to move up.

12. Miami Dolphins: Tim Tebow, QB Florida
Fins QB coach David Lee got a first-hand look at Tebow while coaching him during the Senior Bowl. Tebow shares an agent with Dolphins head coach Tony Sparano. And Tebow is a classic "Parcells QB." But there is no way that the Dolphins use this pick -- or any -- to take Tebow.

13. San Francisco 49ers: Tim Tebow, QB Florida
The last time the 49ers used a 1st-round pick to take a highly touted QB that was mentored by Urban Meyer, they got Alex Smith -- where was the draftniks' skepticism on THAT one? -- which might make both the team AND Team Tebow (which includes Meyer) disinclined to meet up here.

14. Seattle Seahawks: Tim Tebow, QB Florida
So let's assume that the Seahawks use their first 1st-round pick on an extreme need, like offensive line. Their fans are happy. Maybe they decide they want to reach here and take Tebow -- or maybe trade out, for extra picks, to a team hot to get him, like Buffalo?

15. New York Giants: Tim Tebow, QB Florida
Bob Tebow predicted that Tim would go in the first 15 picks of the 1st round. Well, we are here. The Giants won't take him, but that doesn't mean that Tebow won't be selected by the time we get here -- if a team that wants him badly enough is able to trade up with New York... or earlier.

16. Tennessee Titans: Tim Tebow, QB Florida
When it comes to Tebow's 1st-round prospects, the name you hear come up a lot is Vince Young, who the Titans picked with the 3rd overall pick of the 2005 Draft and whose college style wasn't necessarily going to translate to the NFL. VY is the template for TT: Context is critical. (But taking Tebow here is not for Tennessee.)

17. San Francisco 49ers: Tim Tebow, QB Florida

This isn't unlike the Seahawks: Let's say the 49ers pass on Tebow on their first 1st-rounder. Maybe they take a flier on him here -- or, more likely, they are given the opportunity to trade down for extra draft picks, which they need more than Tebow. But the Bills might be willing to do it.

18. Pittsburgh Steelers: Tim Tebow, QB Florida
A running joke has been the notion of pairing Tim Tebow and Ben Roethlisberger in some kind of "perfect strangers"-style buddy comedy reality series. This part is no joke: The Steelers have an image problem at QB and might very well trade Big Ben. But not for Tebow, even if he is the anti-Ben.

19. Atlanta Falcons: Tim Tebow, QB Florida
Well, here is one team where you hear absolutely no discussion of interest in -- or fit for -- Tebow. Which makes them a solid candidate to field offers from teams that want to trade up before things get a lot more unpredictable in the 20s.

20. Houston Texans: Tim Tebow, QB Florida draft guru Gil Brandt has been as bullish on Tim Tebow's draft prospects as anyone in the draftnik industry, and as recently as last week, Brandt has been insisting that he sees Tebow going in the Top 20. If he isn't gone by now, Houston will be getting offers to trade out for picks.

21. Cincinnati Bengals: Tim Tebow, QB Florida

Entirely unlikely to take Tebow, but certainly a willing taker if a team wants to try to trade multiple picks to get Tebow here. Beyond that, the Bengals are a great example of a team that let its franchise QB sit for an entire year, no pressure, to learn. And it worked out great. Template for Tebow?

22. New England Patriots: Tim Tebow, QB Florida
I have always felt in my gut that Bill Belichick would do anything reasonable to get Tebow -- I think Belichick is sincerely intrigued by the intellectual challenge of scheming ways to get Tebow to contribute. Here would be a surprise -- but you know Belichick would love to confound the draftniks.

23. Green Bay Packers: Tim Tebow, QB Florida
Green Bay is a team that spent a late 1st-round pick on a QB with a lot of upside; gave him years -- three long years -- to sit and observe and develop; then unleashed him on the league -- quite successfully, actually. They won't take him, but the team that does could learn from Green Bay.

24. Philadelphia Eagles: Tim Tebow, QB Florida
Plenty of circumstantial evidence that the Eagles wouldn't mind having Tebow on the roster, but with the new commitment to Kevin Kolb, QB isn't a need at No. 24. However: Trading out to a team that wants to give up multiple picks to move into this spot and take Tebow? Possible.

25. Baltimore Ravens: Tim Tebow, QB Florida
Every team's beat writers have tried to find a Tebow hook -- it's worth the traffic to the Web site. And thus: The so-called "Purple Wildcat," which the Ravens could run when not letting Joe Flacco throw to the revamped corps of WRs. Still: Balto hasn't been on anyone's Tebow radar.

26. Arizona Cardinals: Tim Tebow, QB Florida
Well, it's not like the Cardinals don't have questions at QB: Kurt Warner is gone. Derek Anderson has been imported. Matt Leinart's struggles have continued to prove that draftniks' "grades" are far from conclusive. A very early mock draft (Don Banks, had Tebow here. Distant memory.

27. Dallas Cowboys: Tim Tebow, QB Florida
"He'd never get on the field." That was Cowboys owner Jerry Jones about Tim Tebow's prospects with the Cowboys. Even if he was inebriated when he said it and since back-tracked a bit, let's agree that he was being honest about his feelings. And as GM, that's what will stand. (Trade out?)

28. San Diego Chargers: Tim Tebow, QB Florida
They don't need a starting QB and Philip Rivers doesn't look like he's going anywhere for a long time. Plus, they have plenty of other holes to fill as they try to keep pace with the Jets and Colts in the AFC. Does that make them a contender to trade out for multiple lower-round picks?

29. New York Jets: Tim Tebow, QB Florida
I don't think anyone is suggesting that this wouldn't be a wild development -- Tebow on Broadway, playing for the voluble Rex Ryan. Of course, the Jets have a starter for the future (and now) in Mark Sanchez, plus a Wildcat guy in Brad Smith. Another contender to trade out, especially because....

30. Minnesota Vikings: Tim Tebow, QB Florida
If there is a scenario that would make teams like the Bills or Browns antsy to trade up into the 20s, it is the very reasonable prospect that the Vikings could take Tebow here, in a move that would instantly become the sensation of the draft -- if only for the concept of "Favre-Tebow" media overload.

31. Indianapolis Colts: Tim Tebow, QB Florida
If the Vikings pass and Tebow is still on the board, the Colts will get plenty of offers to trade out of this pick, allowing the Bills or Browns or anyone else to avoid the extreme uncertainty of the 18-hour hiatus between the 1st round and the 2nd round.

32. New Orleans Saints: Tim Tebow, QB Florida
The champs can afford to be bold and take Tebow -- it would be the draft equivalent of an onside kick in the 3rd quarter of the Super Bowl. But, more likely, they will be hit with plenty of offers from teams desperate to avoid a Day 2 bidding war for Tebow. If Tebow is still around, it's a seller's market.

Bonus 2nd-round coverage!
The new draft format creates a fascinating dynamic -- with 18 hours to sift through the prospects on the board, if Tebow is still available, plenty of teams will be jockeying to try to get him -- competing with teams trying to trade up for any "value" picks left.

That's why I think a team serious about Tebow will need to trade into the back of the 1st round to get him; there is simply too much competitive uncertainty if he drops into the 2nd round.

33. St. Louis Rams: Tim Tebow, QB Florida.
34. Detroit Lions: Tim Tebow, QB Florida.
35. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Tim Tebow, QB Florida.
36. Kansas City Chiefs: Tim Tebow, QB Florida.

I group these as a "Gang of Four." None need Tebow -- the Bucs made a courtesy call in Gainesville during Tebow's Pro Day in March. All need more talent, and they could get extra picks by trading out to a team that wants to jump the line and snag Tebow.

Look at the Bills, Browns, Raiders, Broncos and Patriots for trading up here. The Gang of Four will also have plenty of offers from teams looking for other value picks that are surprisingly left on the board overnight -- or they will keep their picks to snag that talent themselves.

(Keep an eye out for the Chiefs at 36 -- GM Scott Pioli has a working history with both Pats coach Bill Belichick and Broncos coach Josh McDaniels.)

37. Philadelphia Eagles: Tim Tebow, QB Florida.
The moment that the Eagles traded Donovan McNabb, I added them to the short list in the Tebow Derby. If Tebow is still around here, they will seriously consider taking him -- but with the Browns, Raiders and Bills jockeying for him, there will be plenty of interest to trade out.

38. Cleveland Browns: Tim Tebow, QB Florida.
If the Browns don't take a QB at No. 7 -- and there is no indication that they will -- and Tebow is still on the board here, I think Mike Holmgren takes him and trusts that he can develop him into a starting QB just as the rest of his rebuilding starts to click. No pressure to start/win immediately.

39. Oakland Raiders: Tim Tebow, QB Florida.
Mel Kiper may list Tebow's "floor" as the Bills at No. 41, but I think that Al Davis can't help himself if Tebow is still available when Oakland picks here. I think this is the lowest he will go.

40. San Diego Chargers: Tim Tebow, QB Florida.
If Tebow is still on the board -- and everyone knows that the Bills are going to take him next -- there will be a frenzy of deal-making to try to trade up and get him. In this scenario, watch the Patriots here.

41. Buffalo Bills: Tim Tebow, QB Florida.
Armchair psychological analysis of Al Davis aside, if Tebow is still on the board here -- and the Bills didn't take Jimmy Clausen with the No. 9 overall pick or elsewhere in the 1st round, there is no way Tebow drops further than this.

43. and 45. Denver Broncos: Tim Tebow, QB Florida
Again, given the signals of Denver's interest, if the Broncos really want Tebow, they will have to use one or both of these 2nd-round picks to get ahead of the Browns at 38 or the Raiders at 39 -- or the Bills, at whatever price they're willing to pay.

04/21 Quickie: NFL Sked, Draft, Ben, Tebow

Let's get right to the point: I did, in fact, meet Tim Tebow face-to-face last night. I'm still trying to organize my analysis of the experience. I will say this: It is an understatement to say that he had never heard of ""

Aside from that recap, I've got one more Tebow-related post before the Draft that I will publish here. Bear with me.

As for today's SN column, there is a ton of ground to cover. Start with the thesis: This week showcases the NFL at the height of its power.

*The schedule release yesterday was AN EVENT (the NFL knows what it's doing kicking off the season with Saints-Vikings).

*They will do their best to mitigate the Big Ben suspension today by wedging it between Schedule Hangover and the climax of pre-Draft insanity.

*And then there is tomorrow's Draft, unprecedented in format and likely to draw the biggest audience in the history of the event. I had already thought that Draft Day was the single-biggest day of the NFL year besides the Super Bowl -- tomorrow will reinforce that.

(Speaking of the Draft, will Tebow show? As of last night, he still wasn't sure. I can make a compelling argument both ways. I would argue that the NFL needs him there more than he needs to be there for the NFL.)

More you'll find:

*The 2010 Thunder remind me of the '86 Bulls.

*Totally surprised by the Celtics rout.

*Unsurprised by the Suns rout.

*It's a farce that the NBA plays a playoff game on Sunday then doesn't play Game 2 until Wednesday. If MLB tried that, people would freak.

*Expect nothing from Big Ten commish Jim Delany today.

*Of the three big men who declared for the NBA Draft yesterday (Gallon, Babbitt, Samuels), one will be a break-out NBA hit. My bet is on Gallon.

*I'm not a big Mike Shanahan fan, but I'm glad to see him steering clear of T.O. in DC.

*I'm not a big Jason Taylor fan, and it's fair to wonder if he signed with New York to be near the media spotlight.

*Who didn't put Dwight Howard on their Defensive Player of the Year ballot? Transparency!

*I don't doubt that Edinson Volquez took fertility drugs. I doubt he took them for -- y'know -- fertility.

*I am fully on board the Jason Heyward Bandwagon.

*After all that stalling, Reggie Bush settles. He oozes.

Complete SN column here. More later.

-- D.S.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

When Dan Shanoff Met Tim Tebow

There is a scene in the classic movie "A Christmas Story" where Ralphie finally -- finally -- gets a chance to meet Santa Claus to ask about the Red Ryder BB gun, only to blank in Santa's presence.

Santa says: "How about a" (In Ralphie's own head: "Football? Football? What's a football? With unconscious will my voice squeaked out 'football'. A football? Oh no, what was I doing? Wake up, Stupid! Wake up!")

Ralphie nods his head, and Santa sends him down the slide. Halfway down, Ralphie realizes what is happening, stops short, clambers back up the slide and announces his interest in the gun. Santa replies: "You'll shoot your eye out kid!" Then taps his boot on Ralphie's forehead, sending Ralphie down the slide into oblivion with a whimpering "Nooooo....."

That's a very real scenario for me, because tonight, there is a pretty good chance that I am going to meet Tim Tebow. Finally meet Tim Tebow, I guess you could say. Or, the way many of you might characterize it: Awkwardly meet Tim Tebow.

There is a 100 percent chance that I will be standing in a room with him as a frenzy of media folks jockey to interview him at a launch party for EA's NCAA Football 11. The closest I have otherwise been to Tebow is about 20 rows up from the field at the Swamp at the Tennessee game last September.

So then the open question is whether or not I will actually talk to Tebow myself -- as part of the group or, perhaps, even a brief 1-on-1 interview. If so, the even bigger question is: What would I talk with him about?

In my Ralphie moment, the handlers will nudge me into a one-question interview with Tebow and I'll sputter "Football...." Tebow will answer pleasantly about making a difference or finishing strong or the effort he will bring to whatever NFL team he is lucky enough to be drafted to. And then he'll move along, and I'll realize the brilliant, thought-provoking question I should have asked:

"Wait, wait: How can one reconcile the "relationships-over-championships" attitude with the tears of disappointment on the sidelines of the Georgia Dome? What do you think is the most applicable secular interpretation of your religious beliefs? What's your favorite piece of Tebow mythos? What role did growing up a Gator fan play in your college career? AndhaveyoueverheardofTimTeblogdotcom?"

Let's be realistic here: I don't exactly have the typical media person's perspective on Tebow. Everyone else will attend tonight and ask him the standard questions about his college career, draft status, NFL prospects, video-game expertise, faith, etc. And, more than likely, Tebow will reply with standard answers.

But what about the guy who has the blog focused entirely on Tim Tebow? The guy who has written nearly 800 posts about Tebow over the past 9 months? The guy who has dissected and analyzed practically everything Tebow has said or been said about him?

To be totally honest, the entire prospect of talking with Tebow freaks me out. Not just because of the obsessive coverage or the faux-journalistic distance I've maintained from Tebow (for example, not getting media credentials to cover him up close in G'ville or his trips to NYC).

And, no: Not because of the awkward moment when I mention -- if I even have the chutzpah to bring it up -- that only to have him say "Wow, hm. No, can't say I've heard of it." Probably followed by something chipper like "But sounds fun!" Either that, or a quick safe-word alerting the PR handlers to take me back to the media holding pen.

(Quick digression: The most common question I get when I talk with people about the blog is that they ask me if I think Tebow has seen or read it. With absolutely no false modesty, I tell them that I am 100 percent sure he has never even heard of it, let alone read it. I think he steers clear of coverage of himself, no matter what the form. If his family or the Florida sports information department has set up a Google Alert for "Tebow" -- and I'd be shocked if they didn't -- it would be hard for them to miss the blog. But really, bank on it: He's never seen it or heard of And I'm not even sure how I could bring it up without sounding like a complete tool.)

But let me tell you what freaks me out the most: Coming up with a question beyond the banal. Getting a response beyond what I already know he will say. (Now, I recognize that any speaker as polished as Tebow will always glide back to the talking points, but I can at least make an effort.)

I have been racking my brain -- not to mention the archives of the blog -- trying to come up with the questions that might illuminate Tebow in some new way. Short of that, I am heading in trying to make sense of the larger theses that I have developed about Tebow over the past year about Tebow's football or his faith or his mythology.

I can envision a dream scenario: That my questions are good enough that Tebow would be willing to sit down with me for a half-hour at some point this summer when things are a little bit calmer, for a more extensive discussion. But I'm not holding out for that.

I can also envision a nightmare scenario for tonight: That my question will just be the same old thing. Not even that his answer will be one I've read or linked to a hundred times -- but that the experience won't live up to built-up expectations of the year of attention I have put into the Teblog project.

The reality is that there probably ISN'T a question -- or an answer -- that would validate my unusual dedication to the Tebow beat. And, ultimately, recognizing that is how I'm going to get over the babble in my head, get in the queue to talk with him, introduce myself and ask him a couple questions.

My wife -- the original Gators fan in our family and who has supported the Teblog effort so patiently (most of the time) -- has a pretty interesting theory: That it is very hard to talk with someone you know a LOT about when you don't actually know them. It's a false familiarity that should be recognizable to any sports fan -- or fan of anything, I guess. But I digress.

Some might (appropriately) say that the crucible for shamelessness about all this was defined back in mid-July when I launched a blog devoted entirely to covering Tim Tebow -- that whatever happens tonight is only a function of that.

Still doesn't change the fact that this feels like the culmination of the past year's work, and I'm still not sure how it fits. Maybe after tonight I will enjoy a revelation.


The essay above was republished from a post that originally appeared at And it's worth asking: What would YOU ask him?

04/20 Quickie: Ben, Bron, NFL Sched

I think it's pretty clear that the day of the release of the complete NFL schedule has become a holiday for fans -- part of the league's strategy for a year-round, no-offseason sport.

That's why they won't suspend Ben Roethlisberger today, when he would pull attention from the release of the schedule. They will mitigate the news as much as possible by wedging it between the schedule release and the lead-up to the 1st round of the NFL Draft on Thursday.

Schedule Day is the lead of today's SN column, but it's loaded:

*LeBron goes "Wap. Wap. Wap. Wap."

*But you have to love the Bulls' trash-talking.

*Hard to feel sympathy for the Nuggets.

*Wow, the Red Sox are not good. (And the Rays are very good.)

*Joe Maddon can wear a hoodie in my baseball league.

*Kyle Singler just made Duke the team to beat in March 2011.

*Remember the name: Jeff Driskel, Florida's next great QB.

*I don't mind Big Ten expansion. Super-conferences!

*There is a better-than-good chance that I am going to meet Tim Tebow tonight. Bonus post on that later this morning.

Complete SN column here. More later.

-- D.S.

Monday, April 19, 2010

04/19 Quickie: NBA Playoffs, NFL Draft

Now you all know that I have shown insane levels of restraint in not making the blog a Tebow-NFL Draft hotbed -- I'm glad I have for that -- but we won't be able to help digging into the Draft (and its top storyline, Tebow) starting tomorrow through the end of the week.

But for now, today's SN column leads with the opening frame of the NBA Playoffs and how it sets the tone: KG getting suspended (dirty!), Kevin Durant getting an education in playoff basketball from the Lakers, and the Blazers getting raves for beating the Suns in PHX without Brandon Roy.

Personally, I find the pace of the NBA Playoffs to be interminable -- people gripe when there is a single extraneous day in between MLB playoff games. The NBA by practice puts days between each individual game in a first-round series. I love the NBA Playoffs, but man....

More you'll find in today's column:

*Memo to the Lions: Just draft Suh. Please.

*SN mock drafters don't see Tebow to the Vikings at 30.

*91,000 at Bama's spring game: Hol-eee....

*Mets get season highlight with 20-inning win Saturday (back to reality Sunday).

*Josh Selby is Xavier Henry all over again. Ho-hum.

*Dan Boyle: In for a rough day.... Just a mistake.

Complete SN column here. More later.

-- D.S.