For roughly three months the Denver Broncos were the greatest show on Earth, or at least the most covered. Late game heroics combined with early game ineptitude combined with opponents mistakes made Tim Tebow and the Broncos a water cooler topic all around the nation.
Television ratings create legends and rumor has it that ESPN was one more playoff victory away from the launch of ESPN 15 (which could be viewed on channels 316 all across the world).
Although millions of “sheep” followed and celebrated Tebow’s every move, it became only a matter of time where the bounce passes and media attention focused on one person would get old in the locker room.
Broncos wide receiver Demaryious Thomas was the subject of much denigration as the blind Tebow followers blamed his shortcomings on the Denver receiving corps.
Thomas participated in one of the most memorable plays of the 2011 season as he caught a game-winning 80-yard touchdown strike from the “holiest of quarterbacks” to give the Broncos their lone playoff victory. Despite the great catch and run, Thomas caught two passes or less in nearly half of Tebow’s 11 starts.
The ascending young receiver sounded off about Tebow in a radio interview in Atlanta.
“It’s a business decision,” Thomas said, via SportsRadioInterviews.com. “I ain’t going to say I was sad because the only thing they remember is that pass. You gotta go back and look at the rest of the games. I wasn’t getting no balls and you had to make some of these plays where some players were open and he is not making the throws, but I don’t want to talk bad about Tim. But, hey, I am happy we got Peyton.”
Thomas elaborated on Tebow’s inabilities to read defenses quickly.
“You would have people calling him out saying, ‘Tim, you gotta make that throw. You gotta read the defenses better.’ Players on offense trying to get him better,” Thomas explained.
If America hadn’t quite grown tired of the endless media attention of the Broncos “savior,” some of his teammates had. A team that was winning close games with most defense and opponents mistakes was watching the world bestow the credit upon one player.
“Everything on ESPN was all about Tim,” Thomas said. “That bothered some players, too, because they would say, ‘Tim Tebow Time.’ I felt like it was a team thing. If it wasn’t for the defense most of the time, there wouldn’t be no supposed ‘Tim Tebow Time.’ ”
It was much easier for the Broncos players to toe the company line regarding Tebow as they didn’t need the inevitable backlash that would come with any sort of criticism toward the chosen one. It was clear that the front office knew he wasn’t the player who could take them to the promised land and apparently Demaryious Thomas agrees.
Although Denver will have a new media circus in town with Peyton Manning, credit for victories and blame for losses will most likely be properly assigned. If nothing else, Demaryious Thomas and John Elway are admittedly “happy,” and the biggest distraction in sports is now on the biggest stage.
Charlie Bernstein is the NFL Insider for ESPNFlorida.com and ESPN 1080 and 1040 in Orlando/Tampa and Editor-in-Chief of Sports Media Interactive, covering the National Football League, NCAA, and National Basketball Association. Charlie covers the Jacksonville Jaguars for FoxSports and has been featured on the NFL Network and Sirius NFL Radio. Charlie is also a member of the Pro Football Writers of America. You can follow Charlie on Twitter @nflcharlie