Florida Gators' Tim Tebow should sit out LSU game

For almost as long as he has been a football player, Tim Tebow has been a folk legend.

His life has been so charmed, he seems as if he has been fashioned from mythology. His body is so big, it seems to be ripped from the pages of comic books. His career as the University of Florida quarterback has become so much larger than life, it seems as if he is indestructible.

Perhaps that is why some people are having such a hard time feeling Tebow's pain.

Perhaps that is why so many seem to prefer risking his health rather than the national championship.

Perhaps that is why so many people argue so zealously against the most logical assumption of them all: Tebow should sit out Saturday's game against LSU.

I know, I know. You disagree. Over the past week and a half, a lot of fans have been prepared to dismiss Tebow's concussion as a mere inconvenience. To them, it is a foregone conclusion that Tebow will start, and anyone who suggests otherwise, by golly, is part of a national conspiracy to derail the Gators on their way to another championship.

For 10 days, the debate has raged. Suggest that the Gators should be cautious with Tebow, and you are likely to hear this injury isn't near as big a deal as the media imply. Say the team should be worried about his health, and some fans are going to demand just where you went to medical school. Suggest that maybe, just maybe, Tebow shouldn't be allowed to play, and you will hear loud swearing, followed by this statement: "Hey, this is Tim Tebow we're talking about.''

It is there, I fear, the basic problem lies.

After all of these years of suggesting that Tebow is superhuman, some people seem to have forgotten that he is not.

That's the trouble with turning a football player into an icon. Somewhere along the way, the myth overtakes the man. Remember how Superman wears Tim Tebow's pajamas? Remember how Tebow grinds his coffee with his teeth and boils the water with his rage? Remember there are no doors in Tebow's house, just walls he has walked through?

The hyperbole goes higher and higher, until everyone buys in, until it hardly seems something as mortal as a concussion could stop him.

Tebow has not turned an ankle here. He has not bruised an elbow. He has damaged his brain, the most important organ in his body. He spent a night in a hospital. He wasn't allowed to watch television or read for a week. Just because he returned to pads on Tuesday shouldn't you make forget any of that.

Have you seen the NFL studies? Concussions lead to depression, to dementia, to degenerative brain injuries, to Alzheimer's.

Given that, why not play it safe? Why not let Tebow sit one out?

So who should make the decision here?

Tebow? No, of course not. Players always want to play. This decision isn't about courage. Goodness, none of us needs any more evidence of Tebow's toughness.

Urban Meyer? No, of course not. Coaches are paid to win football games, not diagnose health. Even coaches will tell you that.

The team doctors? Partially. But when you go over the long list of players who have had concussions — from Steve Young to Troy Aikman to Merril Hoge — you should remember this: Most of those guys were cleared to play, too.

If it was my son, or if it was my concussion, here is what I would like for a college to do. Any college. I would want it to gather as many opinions from as many experts as possible. I would talk to outside neurologists. I would talk to former players. I would talk to anyone who didn't know the point spread to Saturday's game.

Most of all, I would want the school to be sure.

If that meant sitting for a week, or for more, that's someone else's headache.

Florida Gators' Tim Tebow should sit out LSU game 10/06/09 [Last modified: Tuesday, October 6, 2009 11:09pm]

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