No number 25 pick in NFL draft history has been built up higher than the Broncos' Tim Tebow. The expectations of him are so oversized that the Mile High Messiah would have to turn into the real thing to match them.
Example: An amusing ESPN.com riff comparing Tebow with Stephen Strasburg, the Washington Nationals pitcher whose scorching major league debut last night actually lived up to the hype.
"Strasburg v. Tebow: A Tale of the Tape," penned by Adam Watson, immediately puts the conflict between the two in Biblical terms. Watson writes that Strasburg's first pitch "might start the Rapture" (it almost did), while "God himself might carry Tim Tebow into the end zone during his first play from scrimmage for the Broncos this fall."
He then compares the pair in terms of nine intangibles. Strasburg comes out on top in four categories: better jersey number, better contract, first pro opponent and number of bracelets worn -- the last prize won because Tebow "has one of those rubber wristbands for just about everyone he's ever met," while Strasburg keeps his forearm au naturel.
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For his part, Tebow bests the Double-S in four different matchups: vital stats (GQ once described him as "all thick polygons and smooth flat planes and inescapable corn-fed handsomeness"); eye color (in person, his orbs are "like looking through a prism or into a waterfall"); greatest award (the 2007 Heisman -- duh); and haircut, which is described as more of a loss for Strasburg than a Tebow triumph.
Yes, Watson cops out on category nine to maintain a tie, awarding first-name popularity to Kobe Bryant. But it hardly matters. Strasburg has spent a year burning a path to the majors, slackening jaws at regular intervals, while Tebow has merely participated in off-season drills, often looking not very good in the process. But that doesn't seem to matter. Tebow is a better story if he overcomes the haters and becomes a pro legend -- and that's the tale many members of the national media will tell until they can't sustain it anymore.
Which may be soon, or it may be never. At this point, only God knows.