The ultimate clutch player

By Chuck Norris

America has the UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championships) and the UCP (Ultimate Clutch Players). One is mixed martial artists, and the other is quarterbacks of the NFL. They all are athletic warriors who are extremely determined to win.

My favorite in the UFC is Georges St. Pierre. My favorite UCP in the NFL is Tim Tebow.

I know what you are thinking: Tebow has only been in the NFL for three years. True, but Tim’s 2011 season with the Denver Broncos was one of the most remarkable in football history.

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In 2010, the first round draft pick out of the University of Florida, signed a five-year contract with the Denver Broncos. His rookie season he played back up to then starter Kyle Orton. Orton remained the starter the following season, but after a 1-4 start, Tebow replaced him at halftime against the San Diego Chargers. After attempting to rally his team from a 16-point deficit against San Diego, Tim was named the starter for the upcoming game against the Miami Dolphins. It was in that game that we got to see Tebow work his fourth-quarter magic. Tim came back from a 15-0 disadvantage to the Dolphins and led the Broncos to an 18-15 overtime victory.

And what sportsman can ever forget how that amazing rookie quarterback then led the Broncos to six wins in their next seven games and into the playoffs, beating the highly favored Pittsburgh Steelers in a wild-card game? After finishing the game tied and going into overtime, the Broncos won the coin toss, and Tebow threw a perfect 80-yard pass on the first play to win the game 29-23. It was the Broncos’ first playoff victory in six years.

When the Broncos decided to go with another clutch player in Peyton Manning, Tim joined the New York Jets. He was brought to New York to be the backup quarterback to Mark Sanchez and run some wildcat packages.  

Personally, I think the formula of rotating quarterbacks is ultimately a recipe for disaster. That system never works. There can only be one quarterback leading the team. As the old adage goes, anything with more than one head is a monster.

I have been following Tim since he became a quarterback for the Florida Gators, and I have never seen a more determined and inspiring athlete play the game of football. And I’m not alone in that sports assessment.

Akbar Gbajabiamila, analyst for and NFL Network, explained last week in his article, “Tim Tebow’s history as a proven winner should not be ignored”: “Training camps are still a few months away, and already, every team in the NFL has made a major mistake: They’ve overlooked the winning record of Tim Tebow. … Pundits have tried to erase the success Tebow had in 2011 with the Denver Broncos, but make no mistake: it all happened. He did mount multiple fourth-quarter comebacks and notch four overtime victories; he did rush for 118 yards and throw for two touchdowns in one game; he did complete 66 percent of his passes and throw for two touchdowns in another. … In the locker room we had a word to describe that kind of personal highlight reel: ballin.'”

Forbes just released its 2013 list of Most Influential Athletes, and Tim Tebow leads the pack with the No. 1 ranking, followed by Manning at a distant fifth. The only other two NFL players on the list were Drew Brees (No. 6) and Aaron Rodgers (No. 8).

I’ve heard the so-called critics say Tebow has poor technical skills, but the truth is that Tim is a natural-born leader, an amazingly gifted football player, an inspiration to his team and the possessor of intense determination and strategy to bring any team to victory – no matter what the odds. One can improve technique, but leadership is innate. That is why I believe Tebow could be a super star and legend in the NFL.

Take an unprecedented in-depth look at the most celebrated college football player of all time as he defies the odds and astounds critics, making the journey from two-time national champion and Heisman trophy winner to NFL rookie quarterback.

Michael Strahan, Super Bowl champion, Fox football analyst, and now morning show host, recently commented on “The Late Show with David Letterman,” “You can’t measure heart. And you can’t measure how hard a guy’s going to work when a guy starts making money.”

Tebow has proven that he plays with all heart, and his hard work and determination is unprecedented.

Tebow is a player who rises to the occasion and delivers big in critical game moments. He reminds me of myself when I used to compete in martial arts. I would spar with my black belts in class, and sometimes they would outscore me. Yet in the tournaments, I would defeat them. My students used to ask me, “Why can we contend equally against you in class, but we can’t beat you in the tournaments?” My answer was always the same, “When it counts, I rise to the occasion.”

The same is true of the former Heisman Trophy winner: When pressure mounts and the game is on the line, Tim’s turbo turns on! It has been said, “If a quarterback came through with a clutch, final-minute victory, he pulled a ‘Tebow.'” And that is why he is the ultimate clutch player.

I believe we have just begun to see what Tim is capable of doing as one of the best among the NFL’S UCP. But a team must play him and let him lead, like the Broncos did. No warrior can prove his worth if kept from the battlefield.

So what team do I feel should give Tim the opportunity to excel as a quarterback and usher them to Super Bowl status?

My present pick would be the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Why? To put it simply, because Tim could help turn the mediocre team into a championship one.  Tebow works miracles on the field, and his inclusion would embolden the spirit of the Jaguars among the team and fans.

Plus – and this has no reflection on the current quarterbacks – Tim is from Florida, where he bears a victor legacy and an extensive fan base, to boot, from his days with the Gators. Tim was raised in the Jacksonville area, where he became a high-school football star. Then his young, stellar career shot into the stratosphere when he led the University of Florida in Gainesville to some record-breaking wins. Tim won two national championships with the Gators and became the first sophomore ever to win the coveted Heisman Trophy.

So, Mr. Shad Khan – the owner of the Jacksonville Jaguars, David Caldwell – their general manager and coach Gus Bradley, I would give the preceding some serious thought. Whatever you would pay Tebow would be recouped tenfold by the increase in attendance and fan base. With Tim as the quarterback for the Jacksonville Jaguars, they would add thousands (if not tens of thousands) of additional fans to the stadium, including me – even though I don’t live in Florida!

Only one thing that stands in the way, again as Akbar Gbajabiamila, analyst for and NFL Network, wisely retorted: “Here’s the truth as I see it: Many coaches let pride or fear of media and fan scrutiny affect the decisions they make about star players.”

But I was reading another USA Today column last week, headlined, “Trailblazer Khan should set course for hirings.” It reported that Khan, as the first minority owner of an NFL franchise, often cites Martin Luther King Jr.’s work as a contributing factor to his success.

So let me respectfully challenge Mr. Khan to consider these words from Dr. King: “There comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular, but he must take it because conscience tells him it is right.”

I know Khan, Caldwell and Bradley have talked, and they know that hiring Tebow would be right – right for them, right for the team, right for the fans and right for Florida.

Tim isn’t worried about his future. With his skillset, confidence, marketability and Christian faith, his future is rock solid and good as gold – on and off the field. As he himself has said, “I don’t know what my future holds, but I know Who holds my future.”

All that is needed now is an owner, manager and coach of a football team who have the vision and faith to watch Tebow turn around their team. I guarantee that they will see positive results. I have been an athlete all of my life, being a six-time undefeated world middle weight champion in the martial arts, and I know a winner when I see one.

Tim Tebow is a winner – plain and simple!

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