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Post Leadership
Posted at 03:00 PM ET, 12/12/2011

Tim Tebow mania hits the Denver Broncos

Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow prays near the endzone prior to their NFL football game against the Chicago Bears in Denver December 11, 2011. (RICK WILKING - REUTERS)
Tebowmania hit new highs on Sunday. Denver Broncos starting quarterback Tim Tebow wowed football fans with an overtime win against the Chicago Bears Sunday, after being scoreless with just minutes to go in the fourth quarter. Now that he’s got six wins in a row, the Heisman Trophy winner may just be the subject of more media coverage than Kim Kardashian, Newt Gingrich and Alec Baldwin put together. From his atypical approach to running the football to his on-field evangelizing, the attention surrounding Tebow is outsized, even by professional sports standards.

What gets less attention in all that coverage than it should is that it’s not just Tebow making the wins happen. It was kicker Matt Prater, after all, who kicked two 50-plus yard field goals to both tie and win the game. The Broncos’ defense is putting up good numbers, too. As the Post’s Brandon Benson put it, Tebow may deserve credit for making the big plays when they counted, but his teammates are making all those last-minute victories possible.

Tebow has been admirable at keeping the mania in check. “I don’t think it’s Tebow time,” he said magnanimously following Sunday’s remarkable come-from-behind win. “I just think it’s Bronco time.” And the Broncos appear to be behind him in their support. “Tebow is an amazing player,” Broncos defensive end Jason Hunter has said. “He's a playmaker. …We support him.”

But it will be up to head coach John Fox to keep Tebow’s attitude and the team’s rally behind their young quarterback going. Tebow’s staunch religious beliefs and seemingly bottomless pits of humility shouldn’t make the first one a problem. This is a guy who kneels in prayer following good plays on the field and quotes Proverbs to his team.

Fox’s bigger problem could be making sure that all the attention on the team’s quarterback doesn’t start to rub his other players the wrong way. It’s Tebow’s offensive line, after all, that’s giving him all those opportunities to find holes to run the option. It’s Tebow’s kicker, mind you, that’s getting the ball through the uprights on long kicks at the last seond. And it’s his defensive teammates who are keeping the Broncos’ opponents’ scores low enough that he can keep coming from behind to win. Tebow, the Post’s Cindy Boren points out, now has the most game-winning drives — six — in overtime or the fourth quarter by any quarterback over his first 11 starts.

Yes, quarterbacks can make a huge difference—one need look no further than the 0-13 Indianapolis Colts and their star Peyton Manning, who is out for the 2011 season after neck surgery, for proof. But in most cases, they do not single-handedly resurrect a team from the ashes, even if they do paint bible verses on their eye black. As long as his young quarterback keeps a good head about the attention, Fox’s job should stay relatively easy. But without careful attention to making sure the team gets recognition for their work, Tebowmania could all too easily hurt the Broncos as much as it’s helping them.

Update: The original post incorrectly identified Tim Tebow as a rookie starting quarterback. The current text reflects the correction.

More from On Leadership:

Putting faith in Tim Tebow

In sports, there’s no faking leadership

Coach K’s leadership ABCs

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