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September 11, 2013

LINDLEY: Tebow's NFL failures don't diminish previous success

The NFL is one game into the 2013 season and Tim Tebow is somewhere he’s not been for a long time — out of football, wondering if he can get back in.

Has he taken his last snap? Thrown a final spiral to a receiver open in the end zone? It’s hard to imagine that’s the case. Then again, for one of the most popular and polarizing figures to play the game, it’s difficult to envision how he could make his way back onto a pro team and produce winning results as a quarterback.

Tebow is not a story about success and failure. From his high school days, where he was a Parade All-American and Florida’s Player of the Year, he went on to the University of Florida where he won the Heisman Trophy and played on two BCS winning teams.

Some might say that’s all well and good, but he’s been a flop in the NFL. Tebow’s game didn’t suddenly change. His approach to running an offense wasn’t altered. It’s just a case where the abilities that worked so well in previous seasons weren’t the same required to succeed in the NFL.

I recall listening to a radio show one winter night in the mid-1990s when Rick Pitino was coaching at the University of Kentucky. The caller was expressing doubt about a player who had had great success earlier in his career but failed to live up to future hype and expectations.

Pitino said it was wrong to minimize a player’s past achievements because he didn’t continue to dominate at the next level — either from high school to college or college to the pros. He lectured the caller, and said fans should recognize a player for what he or she did accomplish and not for what they didn’t.

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