The myth of The Winner is a powerful one in sports.
Just ask Tim Tebow, who might be the worst passer in the NFL, yet somehow the most popular. After last week's "Miracle in Miami" you could have renamed Twitter "Tebwitter" after all the talk about the Broncos' improbable comeback. So how could a kid with a goofy delivery inspire people to buy Tebow billboards or start a hilarious new internet meme called Tebowing (tebowing.com)?
Part of it is Tebow's aw-shucks, nice guy persona, but a lot of it has to do the way we rationalize things that aren't easily digested.
Point out that Tebow routinely looks like he's trying to chuck footballs at referees instead of his own receivers, and his fans will bust out the "he's a winner" trump card where they'll point out his two national championships with Florida (even if those Gators teams were basically college all-star teams).
If that sounds familiar, it's because it used to be the way some Chicagoans described the player Tebow replaced in the starting lineup.
Kyle Orton was part of a Bears team in the mid-2000s that won because of good defense and special teams. The passing game struggled, but when Orton was criticized, people pointed out his stellar record as a starter.
Orton actually had a career year last season for Denver, but the team finished 4-12 and the "winner" label faded. So when the Broncos stumbled to an ugly record this season, the team opted for the ultimate in perceived winners: Tebow.
The lesson: Being a quarterback of an NFL team is a lot like being president of the United States. You get way too much credit and take too much of the blame.
President Obama continues to get blitzed in the polls because he's being blamed for every problem in America short of global warming and Justin Bieber's career. Orton was damned due to an overly conservative offense and because he had to battle the same myth that got him a starting job in the first place. Now that's irony.
Ryan Smith is a RedEye special contributor.