Tebow bridges gap between cult and folk heroes

Updated: November 29, 2009, 8:50 PM ET
By Bruce Feldman

There is an intersection that very, very few athletes ever find themselves at. It's the cross between being a folk hero and being a cult hero.

The folk hero is the all-time talent, the Peyton Manning, the Vince Young, the Deion Sanders; the guy so gifted you think you may never see another quite like him. The cult hero is different, a guy who in some cases is quirky but always seems to connect with a fan base for reasons beyond simply performing on the field. Owen Schmitt is one of the best examples I can think of for Mountaineer Nation. Tim Dwight at Iowa is another one. Maybe to a lesser degree your team had some walk-on special-teams ace or a DB with a knack for highlight-reel-worthy collisions.

You can see the cult hero emerge perhaps more in the college game than in a lot of other places because there tends to be less packaging involved. We get more of a grass-roots marketing vibe that spirals off these athletes.

Tim Tebow is the best example of the blend of folk hero and cult hero we have ever seen.