Archive for the ‘TEBOW!’ Category

Tebowmania

Posted: November 21, 2011 by Keith Stone in Denver Broncos, football, Hulk Hogan, NFL, TEBOW!, wrestling

Whatcha gonna do when Tebowmania runs wild on you?

With Tebowmania running rampant around the country and dare I say, the world, my buddy Matt takes a look at the phenomenon and how Tebow compares to a certain icon from the past:

The babyfaced athletic hero takes the stage with great fanfare. Women and children scream for him. Grown men wear his outfit. The air is thick with anticipation of the history that is about to unfold. But then our hero spends most of the contest looking entirely inferior to the competition, bringing virtually nothing to the table. He makes his adversaries gain a sense of superiority, makes neutral observers scoff, and makes even some of his backers start to question why they bothered investing their emotions in this guy in the first place. Yet like clockwork, just when all hope seems to be lost, it happens. Our moribund hero springs to life and lets loose in a storm of fury on his tiring opponent. In the blink of an eye, it is over. Somehow, in the closing minutes our hero made a remarkable rally and added to his growing legend. Music blares over the PA and fans go wild as he assumes his trademark pose, victorious.

If the character we know as Timothy Richard Tebow didn’t exist, someone would have to create it. As it turns out, someone already did create it more than a quarter-century ago. But in its initial incarnation, the character wasn’t an NFL quarterback named Tim Tebow. He was a WWF wrestler named Hulk Hogan.

As I watched Tebow lead the Broncos on their improbable game-winning drive Thursday night, culminating in a 20-yard touchdown run to upset the Jets 17-13, I began searching through my memory. Precisely who did this unorthodox (perhaps that’s the wrong word given his devout faith) phenom remind me of? We hear a lot of Doug Flutie comparisons, but that doesn’t quite fit. As anyone who’s ever seen film of his Hail Mary pass to beat Miami while at Boston College can attest, Flutie had a fantastic arm. He had trouble getting a crack at a NFL starting job not due to a lack of arm, but a lack of height.

I realized that I had never seen a quarterback quite like Tebow, that I’d need to search outside the world of football to find an apt comparison. And finally, it hit me. Tim Tebow is the closest thing the NFL has ever seen to the Hulkster.

Before his public life degenerated into aging, balding, wrinkled, steroid-addled, reality show-starring, womanizing, wife-divorcing farce, Hogan was a cartoonish grappler who inspired kids across America to do the right thing. Clearly, the mid 1980’s were a different era in both the WWF and our nation for this situation (pro wrestler as role model) to even be possible. His mantra to America’s youth was to “train, say your prayers and eat your vitamins.” The children watching him didn’t imagine the “vitamins” to mean steroids. We assumed he meant Flintstones chewables, especially the purple Dino shapes. Those  were tasty.

Tebow’s persona is similarly straight out of a comic book. I’m tempted to call him a throwback, but to what? He’s a throwback to a past that never existed even in the popular imagination. Perhaps baseball superstars were once imagined to be as wholesome as peanut butter on whole wheat with a glass of milk, but quarterbacks were generally rough-hewn gladiators at best. At worst, you’d expect them to show up drunk on national TV asking Suzy Kolber to kiss them.

With more than two decades since his heyday to blur the memories, it would be easy to recall Hogan’s character in the ring as that of an irresistible force. We remember the bulging eyes, the driving “Real American” entrance music, the yellow shirt ripping off as if it were effortless. But here’s the thing: Hogan almost always struggled through his matches. In fact, he often brought virtually nothing to the table. He was a big, muscular guy to be sure, but if Mel Kiper Jr. scouted 80’s WWF wrestlers Hogan would’ve been given the dreaded “tweener” tag.  He would have underwhelmed at the combine. He had decent size for the WWF, but was no Andre the Giant or Big John Studd. He never was particularly quick on his feet. I’m fairly certain the Ultimate Warrior could have destroyed him in a bench-press competition. And he had no aerial moves anywhere near the class of a “Macho Man” Randy Savage or a Jimmy “Superfly” Snuka.

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