Remember that scene at the end of "The Wizard Of Oz," where Dorothy wakes up and realizes that her adventures down the yellow brick road were all just a dream? Well, that monent happened Saturday for legions of freshly-minted Tim Tebow fans.
Reality showed up, and it was wearing a Patriots' uniform. The ensuing beatdown wasn't a surprise to football fans anywhere, but came as a shock to Tebow fans everywhere. See, these people don't know, or care, about football -- they just like the guy, or the image of the guy. And that's ok, but it leads to massive disappointment.
The great thing about craziness like Tebowmania is that it presents an opportunity for smart people, through perfectly legal means, to take advantage of folks who are all worked up. Enter Las Vegas, who raked it in by taking bets to the tune of $14.5 million, a record for an NFL playoff game. And nobody put a gun to anybody's head either -- all that cash was brought to Vegas' doorstep by people who were convinced that Tebow's magical powers would defeat Tom Brady and actual skill. Sports books made it tempting by offering gamblers a 13.5 point spread. So when the Pats won by 5 touchdowns, they made out like proverbial bandits.
I for one was happy to see so many people lose so much cash. See, people who had the audacity to suggest that maybe Tebow was way overrated were called haters. Haters of Tebow, haters of common decency, and yes, haters of Jesus himself. Wow. It would have been tolerable if not for the fact that this nonsense came from people who clearly knew nothing about football.
It's hard to imagine anyone who saw the Broncos lose a game to the Chiefs 7-3 make the case that their QB, who completed 4 passes in that game, was Superbowl bound. But then the Raiders choked big-time at home, and the Steelers failed to show up at all. So, Tebow and company fell backwards into the Patriots matchup. And more people watched that game than any NFL playoff game in decades. There was a miracle afoot, and apparently lots of people were afraid to miss it. But they did. That game got ugly in a hurry. Tom Brady, perhaps inspired by all the Tebowing, had a decidedly all-business approach to this game. It showed. And thus, most of the air was squeezed out of the Tebowmania balloon. Real football fans just saw it as order being restored to the NFL universe.
So, what's next for Tebow and the Broncos? Only time will tell. Maybe he'll get better in the offseason and lead his team to the Superbowl, crushing everything in his path. Tebowmania will return with a flourish, bigger and better than ever. Or, he could play the way he did against the Patriots, lose a few games early, and real football fans in Denver will start calling for his replacement. Tebow fans will call those people haters. Which they will be. Haters of hype over results.
I wish the Broncos and Tebow all the best. They're an average team playing in a very weak division, so it won't take much to win a few games. But it appears that playing a real team in a real pressure situation has put a stop to a lot of the craziness. Look -- Dorothy had a blast in Oz, but in the end she woke up to realize that she still lived on a crappy farm in Kansas.