In 1964, John, Paul, George, and Ringo took a cross-Atlantic flight from London to New York City that would change the hearts and mindsets of Americans everywhere. Before arriving in America, the Beatles already had two number one albums on the UK charts. So when 3,000 screaming fans awaited the band’s arrival at JFK Airport, Beatlemania had landed.
Fast-forward to 2011 where NFL fans are experiencing their own form of Beatlemania: Tebowmania. As Florida’s iconic quarterback, Tim Tebow made his mark on America before he flew across the country and landed in Denver.
Ten career NFL starts and 7 wins later, Tebowmania has gone to new heights. The emergence of Tim Tebow as a winning starting quarterback in the NFL has made fans and analysts scream like teenage girls. “Tebowing” has taken over a patch of land near you. And almost every conversation about the NFL somehow makes a pit stop in Tebow-town.
There is an obvious difference between Broadway Joe and Tim Tebow. For starters, Namath loved the attention and craved the spotlight. During his playing days, it wasn’t out of the ordinary for him to wear a fur coat or pink pants on the sidelines. That’s just Joe being Joe. Today, he’s still making headlines with his controversial tweets towards his former team. He’s even credited as an actor 14 times on IMDB.com.
Tebow is the exact opposite. This humble 24-year old is just living out his dream of being an NFL quarterback. He’s not playing football to have TV specials about him. He didn’t cry for the cameras when the Gators lost the BCS Championship his senior year. He didn’t start “Tebowing” for it to be a Tumblr account. He didn’t call up NFL Magazine asking to take Cam Newton off the cover of the first issue so that he could be on it. We, as the media and fans, put him in those positions.
These two couldn’t be more polar opposites. Joe Namath was a womanizer. Tim Tebow is still a virgin. Joe Namath did endorsements in pantyhose for Beauty Mist and with Farrah Fawcett for Noxema. Tim Tebow appeared with his mom in a Super Bowl commercial for pro-life. Coming out of college, Namath had the skills to be a great professional quarterback. Tebow came out of college with unconventional techniques and teams were not sure how he’d fair in the NFL. But in the end, they’ve both done the one thing that makes them worth talking about: Win.
Ironically, Namath’s win against the Baltimore Colts in Super Bowl III is the only victory Namath accomplished that’s worthy of conversation. After leading the Jets to the playoffs the very next year—only to lose to the Kansas City Chiefs in the first round, he never led his team to the postseason again.
Tebow has proved he’s a winning NFL quarterback, but the question remains: Is he a Championship quarterback?*
The numbers Tim Tebow has recorded so far have captivated the NFL universe. How does a quarterback lead a team to victory when he averages only 10 completions per game? As an unconventional quarterback, I believe it is too early to judge if he is the real deal or not. It’s too early to place him on a pedestal of greatness, yet it’s too early to dismiss his accomplishments. Tebowmania has landed, but far too soon.
When the Beatles arrived in America, they weren’t sure how they would be received. Then, 7.4 million people—over 40 percent of the American population—tuned into for the band’s first live U.S. performance. Their popular became their success.
Tebow’s popularity is unquestioned. But unlike the Beatles, Tebow must succeed in spite of his popularity. And managing those types of expectations is a lot to put on the shoulders of one 24-year old man, no matter how broad those shoulders happen to be.
So what will happen next? We know the Beatles went on to become one of, if not the best band ever. Will Tebow have as successful of a career in the NFL as the Beatles did in music? Will he have one defining moment like Joe Namath, only to realize that in actuality, he wasn’t as great as everyone thought or hoped for? It’s too soon to tell.
Regardless, Tebowmania has arrived and is here to stay—or at least until Brett Favre decides to come back to the NFL.