I have been with the Denver Broncos for 34 years and in pro sports for 37, and in that extensive time span I have seen a lot.
People often ask, “Have you ever seen anything like this before?” The answer is no, and I always add that the reason for this is not that I have not been paying attention—it is just that no one has seen anything like this before.
I am not going to sit here at this keyboard and pretend to project accomplishment and development—we do not know the future other than to say it sure looks positive right now.
But one of the things that struck me right away, and continues to do so each week—literally, each week, so far—is that in every game Tebow has started and won, he has accomplished something for the record books, something that either he alone or very few other quarterbacks have done.
That is part of why it is called a phenomenon. A phenomenon is described in the dictionary as “a rare or significant fact or event.” Halley’s Comet would never have been given a name if it came every night.
Last year when Tim Tebow started and led the Broncos to a victory over the Houston Texans, in a game the Texans badly needed to win to help secure a playoff berth—which our dear friend and Houston coach Gary Kubiak never got—Tebow earned his first win as a starting quarterback and became just the second Broncos since Frank Tripucka (who did it twice in the early 1960’s) to lead the Broncos to victory after a 17-point or greater halftime deficit.
After taking the starting job in Miami, Tebow helped the Broncos become the first team in National Football League history to win a game when trailing by 15 points or more with just three minutes remaining. Denver won.
Two weeks later at Oakland, he rushed for 117 yards to join Norris Weese (also an SEC player, as Weese attended Ole Miss) as the only Bronco quarterbacks ever to rush for 100 yards in a game.
Again, Denver won.
Three weeks later at Kansas City Tebow became the first quarterback with more rushes than passes in a game since Joe Ferguson did it back in 1974 with the Buffalo Bills. Again, Denver won.
Four weeks later against the New York Jets, Tebow led the Broncos on a 95-yard game winning touchdown drive in the game’s closing minutes. And when he dashed 20 yards for the game-winning score with 58 seconds remaining Tebow became the NFL’s only quarterback in history to have a touchdown run as long as that in the final minute of the fourth quarter in history. Somebody asked me how far back history went in that case, and the answer is entire history of the game.
And five weeks later, one week ago, the Broncos swept the AFC West on the road with a win at San Diego and in that game Tebow had 22 rushing attempts, the most by any quarterback in a game since 1950, which was the starting point for the delineation of rushing attempts by position (that is, defining that they all came as a quarterback, rather than some having occurred from the halfback or fullback position). And the Broncos won.
So this has all happened in a five-week span this year, five weeks in which this year’s Broncos became just the third Denver team to be three games under .500 (in this case, 1-4) and come back to the .500 mark.
Since Tebow became the starter Denver has gone from 23rd in the NFL in rushing to first, with an average of 201.4 yards per game over the last seven—by the way, that is the most productive seven-game span in Bronco history on the ground.
The running attack has seen a tremendous performance by Willis McGahee, who last week went over 100 rushing yards for the fifth time this year, the first Bronco since 2006 to have five 100-yard games in a season. McGahee is averaging an excellent 4.8 yards per carry this year.
But Tebow leads all qualifying NFL players with a 5.8 yards per carry average—78 rushing attempts for 455 yards, a total that also stands as the most rushing yards by a quarterback for a single season in Broncos history.
A lot of fans and media observers spend a lot of time pondering future seasons, but my advice is to prepare for the future, but live the moment. Don’t spend all your time cleaning your telescope in advance of the next visit of Halley’s Comet—you might miss it streaking across your sky right now.