"I was told specifically, you can't talk enough Tebow." – former ESPN employee Doug Gottlieb on his time in Bristol.
It was a year ago when ESPN President John Skipper pulled back his network's bizarre obsession with Tim Tebow by admitting they went a teeny tiny bit overboard in their near 24/7 coverage of the quarterback's every move. Predictably, a year later, Tebow is now an ESPN employee after the network hired him as a college football analyst for the SEC Network.
How did one athlete send one of the most powerful, richest, most successful companies in the world to its knees at the mere thought of his name? It's one of the more curious studies of the sports culture any of us have ever seen. Tebow wasn't an athlete at ESPN. He was an icon. A larger than life figure. A myth. Yes, even a god. From the fall of 2011 when he led the Broncos to the playoffs until his release by the New York Jets, not a day went by in Bristol, CT without someone thinking about how they could work Tebow into the daily sports conversation. Many of those days were spent with multiple hours of ESPN covering, debating, discussing, and analyzing Tebow as if he was the only athlete in the world.
ESPN is still trying to recover some of its reputation that was lost with its TebowMania frenzy. The proud network that likes to call itself "the worldwide leader in sports" became a laughing stock thanks to their obsessive coverage that had little basis in reality and was driven by a fanatical, fantastical thirst for all things Tebow.
To commemorate ESPN finally fulfilling their destiny as a billion dollar corporation and signing Tebow to be a college football analyst, let's look back at how the network lost a bit of its soul by remembering the most ridiculous moments of ESPN's Tim Tebow obsession…
1) NEWSFLASH: Tim Tebow throws ball in trashcan from medium distance
A trashcan! 25 yards! Tebowwwww! Incredibly, this is far from the most ridiculous Tebow-related topics ESPN has debated in the last 2 years.
2) Could Tim Tebow have led the 49ers to the Super Bowl?
An equally useful and relevant question would have been whether or not Tebow could have led the Greeks against the Persians at the Battle of Salamis.
3) Tim Tebow meets ESPN meets Glee
May God have mercy on our souls.
4) Bottom Line updates on every pass thrown by Tim Tebow
BREAKING: INCOMPLETION NOT THE FAULT OF TIM TEBOW.
5) Tim Tebow speaks with Jeremy Lin! Gasp!
Hopefully he gave him advice on how to lose the Bristolites following his car.
6) ESPN dedicates an entire episode of SportsCenter to Tim Tebow
This actually happened in the midst of TebowMania 1.0 while he was still with the Denver Broncos in December of 2011. I know what you're thinking – only one???
7) Hulk Hogan calls out Tim Tebow, only on ESPN
My childhood just died.
Once the restraining order was lifted, ESPN built an entire campaign around Skip Bayless "meeting" his idol Tim Tebow, even creating a clever, vomit-inducing hashtag around the event. Of course, Bayless had already interviewed Tebow long before, but when did facts ever matter to First Take?
9) Tebow runs shirtless in the rain gets more coverage than the NHL
I just think it's best to avoid commenting here and move on.
No, actually, we can go inside ESPN's thinking into how it made "man running in rain" into a national news story. TBL talked to the ESPN cameraman who filmed the video at Jets camp, and you can see the Tebow sickness that infects people like it's some sort of zombie virus.
I spoke to the cameraman, Brian Franney, who is actually a producer but said he’s started to dabble in camerawork to keep down costs. “I said to myself, ‘who is this guy with no shirt on? It’s pouring!’ Then I saw it was Tebow, and I knew it would be big. We had it on Sportscenter 10 minutes later.”
Truly a billion dollar company at its most efficient.
10) The Tim Tebow autotune
Autotune is basically the devil, and this mashup video that was played on ESPN airwaves 137,000 times to celebrate Skip Bayless becoming a fictional television character confirmed that. Take a step back and think of the hundreds of professional athletes that accomplished more than Tebow without getting the autotune treatment from Bristol.
11) Proof that evolution is a myth
No "evolved" species could ever think a television program about a man typing on his computer about a press conference in another state could be appealing in any way. Yet there was ESPN devoting an episode of First Take to Skip Bayless tweeting about Tim Tebow's introductory press conference with the New York Jets. And there was humanity taking a backwards step.
12) "Tebow free" edition of First Take mentions Tim Tebow more than once a minute
This "Tebow free" edition of First Take managed to mention Tebow's name over 125 times. False advertising, maybe? I would say these two hours of First Take was the low point in the 34 years, 3 months, and 24 days of ESPN. The worst of the worst. Absolute rock bottom. An episode of television that made Honey Boo Boo look like it belonged in the Smithsonian. But then came…
13) Happy Birthday Tim Tebow!!!
The absolute low point in ESPN's history – Tim Tebow's 25th birthday celebration in August 2012. At least for his 27th birthday, he'll be there in person to celebrate with all of his
stalkers close friends in Bristol. Maybe we'll get lucky and the cameras will be there to document it all. I can't wait for the 3 hour special for #WhenSkipMeetsTebow in the ESPN cafeteria.