Denver quarterback Tim Tebow is set to make his first start this season when the Dolphins play host to the Broncos at Sun Life stadium on Sunday.
Tebow’s rise to the top of the depth chart was made possible by the mediocre performance of Denver’s former starting quarterback Kyle Orton and the pressure of a fan base which wanted nothing more than to see the former Florida Gator become the next John Elway.
Through his book, television commercials and speaking engagements, Tebow has made it a point to let the world know that he has always been an underdog who was able to beat the odds and prove his doubters wrong.
However, Dolphins players are not buying into the hype.
“I can’t call him an underdog. He’s been ordained as the starter of that team,” Miami linebacker Karlos Dansby said Thursday. “If that’s the way he views himself that’s his own personal opinion. He had the number one selling jersey in the league.”
Tebow passed for 79 yards and a touchdown and rushed for 49 yards while nabbing another score on the ground against San Diego on October 9th.
“He’s an athletic dude,” said Dolphins defensive end Jared Odrick. “He sees rushing lanes real well. We have to keep mind of the rush.”
To drive up ticket sales, the Dolphins are honoring Tebow and the 2008 Gator football team which won the national title in Miami’s stadium.
Since Tebow is from the Jacksonville area and with no Gator football game this weekend, there will be a huge University of Florida contingent in Miami.
“It is whatever,” said defensive end Randy Starks when asked about the Tebow celebration set to take place at his home stadium. “I know he’s going to have a lot of fans here because he’s from Florida blah, blah, blah, but I’m not paying attention to that. I just want to go out there and get a win.”
The 24-year-old has heard a flurry of comments about his perceived inability to be a productive passer in the league.
Harsh criticism about his style of play by guys like ESPN’s Merrill Hodge and CBS analyst Boomer Esiason add to the mindset that the young quarterback is an oppressed figure who has never really been given a real opportunity to prove what he can do at the pro level.
But not everyone sees it that way.
“I think the same thing goes for a lot of national and public figures,” said Odrick. Everybody knows he’s got a strong following and everybody knows he’s got a strong amount of critics. It’s something you have to deal with.”