The current playoff season has proven to be one of the most exciting and talked about seasons in recent NFL history. One quarterback, however, was at the center of it all. This time, it wasn’t the glorified Tom Brady or Eli Manning getting all the news coverage. Instead, it was Tim Tebow, the Denver Broncos backup quarterback who led his team to an 8-8 season and 2 playoff games after taking the number one spot from Kyle Orton five weeks into a losing season.
I’ll admit, I was one of those individuals who got on the Tebow bandwagon. Throughout the rest of the season, I rooted for him to win (except when playing the Bills), used the word “Tebowing” as a verb, and was thrilled to see him defy the odds and beat the Steelers on the first play of overtime. Fans rallied around Tebow as he went on to win 5 straight games, despite the fact that he often failed to make big plays until the fourth quarter and had the lowest completion rate in the NFL.
So what was it about this quarterback whose spirals often failed to spiral that made him such a celebrity?
After giving this some thought I realized the cause of Tebowmania. Tim Tebow’s positioning in the football market was unlike many star quarterbacks, and marketers took advantage of it.
Tebow wasn’t a football player with a jail record. He was never accused of a crime and didn’t have an arrogant attitude. He was a player that was upfront in his belief in Christianity, was heard singing religious hymns while warming up, and spread motivating words to his teammates when plays didn’t go as planned. Finally, the “good guy” was winning and fans wanted to believe in him.
The positioning of Tebow as the good, religious, comeback quarterback proved successful. According to Ad Age, Tebow’s win over the Steelers was the highest rated first round NFL playoff game in 24 years, his name was mentioned in 9,420 tweets per second on Twitter, setting a peak record after the game, and his marketing income is expected to increase from $3 million to $5 million in the next year. The name “Tebow” became a household phenomenon as politicians such as Rick Perry and Michele Bachmann made reference to him, skits were aired on SNL, and ESPN spent countless hours discussing the quarterback.
After the defeat of the Steelers, it was reported that Tebow threw for 316 yards and averaged 31.6 yards per completion. Both numbers paralleled Tebow’s favorite scripture John 3:16 and prompted even greater coverage on the already famous quarterback. According to Time, the top three Google Trends on the Monday following the game were “John 3:16,” “Tebow,” and “Tim Tebow,” which further proved his popularity in the football market. Most recently, Tebow was approached by CBS to commentate on the AFC Championship game which, if he agrees, will continue to keep him in the spotlight even after being eliminated from the playoffs.
Even now that Tebow’s road to the Superbowl has been cut short, the debate over whether or not he can be considered a “great” NFL quarterback will most likely continue. Maybe he was a one season wonder or maybe he will continue to shine into next season. However, regardless of how people feel about his football playing abilities, one thing stands true. The marketing of Tim Tebow was undoubtedly successful. The coverage he received and the popularity he gained was unlike any other player this season. From his ESPN presence to his social media presence, Tim Tebow was known to fans way beyond Mile High Stadium.
Allison Sirica is an intern in the Account Service department. She is a senior at SUNY Geneseo, majoring in Communication with a minor in Business Studies, and will graduate in May 2012.