- Johnette Howard, ESPN.com columnist
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In advance of Tim Tebow's first get-to-know-you news conference for the Jets on Monday, here's a head start on Tebow speaking about Tebow, and a CliffsNotes version on other things you may not know about him (hard as that is to comprehend at this point of human existence).
The Book on Tebow, in a nutshell, reads: He's inspiring, he's inexplicably magical and you absolutely won't believe what he did one summer as a missionary in the Philippines
• The divorce from Denver: Tebow's official Facebook page after his trade to New York read:
Tim updated his current city to New York, New York
Tim added New York Jets to his work (Quarterback)
Tim likes New York Jets
Ended work at Denver Broncos (March) as a Quarterback
• Tebow's money quote about the divorce: Knowing even his 8-4 record as a starter and overtime playoff victory over 12-5 Pittsburgh was not enough to make Denver boss John Elway a convert, Tebow did not appear to shed a tear, saying: "That's over and done. I'm looking forward to a new chapter in my life."
• Perhaps this explains Tebow's reaction, too: Before the 2010 draft, Tebow passionately addressed skepticism about his NFL quarterbacking ability by saying: "A lot of people around the country either believe in me or don't believe in me, either I can do this or I can't do this. You know what, if you want to draft me, draft me, if you want to recruit me, if you think I'm going to be a quarterback then I will be. If not, then don't talk to me, because I want somebody that believes I'm going to be a quarterback and believes I'm going to be good at what I do."
• The Jets sure meet the last criterion: In 2010, Tebow scored his first NFL rushing touchdown against the Jets, and in 2011 he beat them by accounting for 92 of the 95 yards the Broncos covered on their final drive, scoring on a 20-yard touchdown run with less than a minute left after the Jets called an all-out blitz. "I was like, 'That was stupid,'" Broncos cornerback Champ Bailey said. Afterward the Jets' defense blinked like, "Anyone get the license plate of that truck?"
• Tebow Philosophy of Life, Pt. 1: In the same rousing trailer for the 2010 documentary about him called "Everything in Between" in which Tebow describes what kind of team he wanted to draft him, Tebow is shown working out in the wee hours of the morning by pushing an SUV uphill, slamming weights and tossing some medieval ball-and-chain contraption back and forth like a wild man.
A voiceover of him speaking says: "When you die there's going to be a tombstone. It's going to have your name. It's gonna have the year you're born and the day you die. In between there's going to be a dash. And that dash is going to represent everything you did in your life, good and bad. That's how you're remembered. What do you want your dash to represent?"
• Tebow Philosophy of Life Pt. 2: "My philosophy since I was a little boy is hard work beats talent when talent doesn't work hard."
• The 30-second deep background blast on Tim, featuring the Missionary Work Surprise: It is well known that Tebow was homeschooled; that he's the fifth and last child of devout Christian parents who have continued to do missionary work in the Philippines though they moved back to the States when Tim was 3; and Tim was an in-state folk hero even before he arrived at the University of Florida, where he began a career-long pattern of coming off the bench at first to have a huge part in astonishing wins, soon rendering the incumbent starting quarterbacks and his fellow backups -- including a young Cam Newton, who went on to prove he can play a little -- totally obsolete.
(Just sayin', Mark Sanchez.)
But did you know Tebow returned to the Philippines during his college summers and his missionary work there then included um performing circumcisions? No lie! (And hey, nobody shout "Boo!" Promise?) Tebow elaborates in this from Dan Shanoff's indispensable TimTeblog.com: "The first time, it was nerve-racking. Hands were shaking a little bit. I mean, I'm cutting somebody. You can't do those kinds of things in the United States. But those people really needed the surgeries. We needed to help them."
• No wonder on the eighth day, someone created Tebowisms: These are takeoffs that acknowledge you must never say never with Tebow because, let's face it, he is football's most interesting man in the world.
A sampling: Tim Tebow hits blackjack with just one card. Tim Tebow has counted to infinity twice. Tim Tebow doesn't wear a watch, he decides what time it is. Tim Tebow ordered a Big Mac at Burger King, and got one. The boogeyman checks under his bed for Tim Tebow.
But the all-time winner is: "Tim Tebow doesn't have an offseason -- the NFL has an offseason from Tim Tebow."
And the Oscar for Best Tebow-isms Antonym? That goes to the Wall Street Journal's Jason Gay for his hilarious piece, "What Tim Tebow Can't Do."
• But don't forget wholesome: How wholesome is Tebow? This from Deadspin contributor/Brett Favre tweaker Matt Sussman: "Tim Tebow is going to send Jenn Sterger pictures of his smile." And you've heard of YouTube, right? But how about GodTube.com, where Tebow is also a regular? In this recent post, snarky comic Bill Maher is made to look foolish -- in a nice way, of course.
• Tebow on playing with a higher purpose: The speculation that Tebow chose New York rather than a trade to his hometown Jacksonville Jaguars to gain a bigger platform for his good works is well-founded. As Tebow has said, "Everything I do I do it all for the glory of God."
• Why you should not bet against Tebow: Yes, he has unorthodox skills but he has made doubters look silly before -- never more so than when he led Denver to eight wins, six of them with fourth-quarter comebacks or in overtime. ESPN compiled stats showing in his first eight NFL starts Tebow did better than -- ahem -- one John Elway when it came to wins (5 vs. 3), passing yardage (1,281 vs. 1,041), touchdown passes (10-3) and interceptions (four to Elway's 10).
Now if Tebow can just keep it up for 15 years, that'll really show him.
Tebow is used to thriving amid skepticism. As he's said: "I just have a passion to play football. When you do things different than other people sometimes do them and you don't settle for just being average, you open yourself up for criticism. But I'm ready for it. I've learned to live with it. I never just wanted to do things the same way everybody else does. I love it when someone tells me that I can't."
• The pre-college scouting report on Tebow: Does this sound familiar? From Rivals.com's JC Shurburtt, in a post from 2006:
"Brings big-time athletic ability to the table for a quarterback prospect. Has a strong arm and above average speed and elusiveness. Showed positive leadership ability in quarterbacking his team to the state title as a high school senior. Physical enough player to also play linebacker or fullback should quarterback not work out. Needs to work on accuracy, touch, and gain a better grasp of the fundamentals of the passing game."
• Ex-NFL star's scouting report on Tebow: Boomer Esiason, former Jets quarterback and current CBS commentator, said this on "NFL Today" before Tebow became Denver's starter six games into 2011 season: "What [former Broncos coach] Josh McDaniel saw in him, God only knows. Maybe God does know. Because the rest of us don't."
• Ex-NFL star's revised scouting report on Tebow: Why yes, that would be Esiason on the extreme right in this photo, joining the rest of the "NFL Today" crew in "Tebowing" after Tebow led the Broncos to another miracle win.
• What is Tebowing? Wait you don't know about Tebowing.com? Or that Wikipedia explains Tebowing as "the act of kneeling on one knee in prayer with one's head resting on one's fist. It is derived from Tebow's propensity for kneeling and praying. The origin of the phrase is credited to [New York-based] fan Jared Kleinstein, who posted a picture with friends on Facebook, in which they mimicked a pose of Tebow following the Broncos' comeback overtime victory over the Dolphins on October 23, 2011. The popularity of the picture led Kleinstein to set up a website. After two and a half-months, the site received 20,000 photograph submissions from all seven continents and 20 million page views from 2 million unique visitors."
In mid-December, the Global Language Monitor website -- a sort of online equivalent of Webster's Dictionary -- said it acknowledges that the word "Tebowing" is now part of the English language.
• What other admirers/believers say about Tebow:
Broncos cornerback Champ Bailey: "Everybody looks at him from the outside. They don't see what he has on the inside. Yeah, he might not be the greatest passer. But give him a chance at the end? I've never seen anything like it."
Broncos head coach John Fox: "He's a competitive dude. He's super competitive. He never lays his sword down. He'll fight you to the death. That's just his nature."
Denver running back Willis McGahee: "He showed he's a quarterback in the NFL -- case closed."
• This is a compliment, too we think: "Inside the 20-yard line, he's got to be the best threat in the NFL. If the game was only 15 minutes long, and the field was 25 yards long, he'd be the MVP" -- Dan Henning, former Dolphins offensive coordinator under Tony Sparano, speaking to the Newark Star-Ledger Jets writer Jenny Vrentas the other day.
• Moral of the story -- he's half man, half phenomenon: Twitter announced that 9,420 tweets per second were sent immediately after Tebow's overtime TD pass that beat Pittsburgh in the playoffs, which set a new sports record for the social media site. After Tebow wore John 3:16 on his eye black in the 2009 BCS Championship Game, that Bible verse was the highest-ranked Google search term over the next 24 hours, generating more than 90 million searches.
• Is there anything Tebow is not good at? Yes. Lying, for one. Tebow made headlines before his last college season when someone asked him if he was "saving himself" for marriage and he answered yes, he was still a virgin.
In hindsight, Tebow was probably not wise to name the dog he got in Denver "Bronco." But an airport sniffer dog named "Tebow" -- no relation -- did make headlines in December for catching a drug trafficker at the Orlando airport who was trying to smuggle a kilo of cocaine stuffed inside a child's toy.
• So how does Tebow himself explain all this? "If you believe," Tebow has said, "then unbelievable things can sometimes be possible."