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Tebow vs. Newton: The Tale of the Tape

By Dave Bruning

I have never been a particular fan of sports talk radio at any time of the day. Recently, though, I have to admit I have become a fan of JT the Brick, airing late nights on Fox Sports Radio. I work nights and his show is spirited banter for my ride home. On a recent evening before the NFL season began, JT solicited thoughts on the long term success of Tim Tebow vs. Cam Newton. This invitation inspired me and prompted me to put together the “Tale of the Tape: Tebow vs. Newton.”

Tebow and Newton are very interesting character studies as potential NFL quarterbacks. A trip to the library is in order to study, dissect and predict the future of these two charismatic athletes.

I think a normal comparison of two athletes or individuals begins with what they share in common, generally positive attributes. The case of Tebow vs. Newton dictates their differences be addressed first. I say this because I believe their differences will largely dictate not only their potential success, but also the opportunity each is given to succeed.

Cam Newton is starting as a rookie because he does not have an established veteran making $9 million to compete with. Newton’s competition is former Notre Dame quarterback Jimmy Claussen. Tim Tebow is not starting because veteran Kyle Orton commands that $9 million salary and is clearly better prepared to play

Newton was the first pick in his draft class. Tebow was the 25th overall draft pick the year before Newton. Newton was not initially thought of as the #1 pick, but came on strongly. Tebow was never considered #1 overall, and most feel his selection in the first round was a HUGE reach by then head coach of Denver, Josh McDaniels.

Newton is the quarterback of the Carolina Panthers. The great college basketball rivalry of Duke vs. North Carolina is at the top of the Carolina sports pyramid, chased closely by NASCAR. This is a cozy back drop for Newton to develop his skills. Newton is going to have the opportunity to mature and develop as a quarterback. Denver lives, breathes and bleeds Bronco football. Lunatic Bronco fans want to spend $10,000 on billboards to promote Tebow as Denver’s starting quarterback when the consensus is he is currently the third string quarterback. This suffocating environment is akin to trying to breathe with a burlap potato sack over one’s head. Tebow probably longs for the brutal humidity of Florida for some clean air.

Newton has a very strong NFL arm. Tebow does not. Newton’s delivery is solid. Tebow’s is elongated and slow. Newton possesses better speed than Tebow.

This dialogue is not meant to be a negative breakdown of Tebow’s skills when measured against Newton’s. As I mentioned earlier, I believe the differences in their skill sets are telling. Let’s look at some differences that favor Tebow.

Tebow’s work ethic is unquestioned. There is not a single NFL fan who does not know how Tebow will respond to adversity. We all know he will dig his heels in deep and work harder than anybody. We don’t know that about Newton. He seems to have taken the easy way out and escaped without much scrutiny. He left Florida after involvement in a theft scandal. His time at Auburn is shrouded in mystery and doubt regarding his father’s dealings to secure the playing future of his son. Mystery and doubt are two words never associated with Tebow. Both men won a Heisman Trophy and led their team to a national championship. College is a plateau for some; a stepping stone for others.

Maybe the answer to their respective futures lies in the above paragraph. We seem to know what Tebow can do, and it is limited on the NFL level. On the other hand, Newton just seems to be scratching the surface of his NFL ability, despite doubts about his character. His situation in Carolina definitely seems to favor his development as an NFL quarterback over Tebow’s situation in Denver. A sad reality for this Denver fan.

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