Tim Tebow and Tom Brady: Opposite in every way? Maybe not.
The scripture-quoting rookie versus the F-bomb dropping Super Bowl vet. Baby cheeks versus chin dimple. Scrambler versus sniper.
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The story lines for Saturday's matchup between Hall of Fame-bound New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady and Heisman Trophy-winning and Denver Bronco rookie Tim Tebow abound, especially given Tebow's overtime winner against the Pittsburgh Steelers last weekend and the sky-high stakes for Brady, who has lost his last three playoff games.
On paper, the Patriots are favored by a 13 point margin – a prediction only fueled by the Patriots' 41-23 drubbing of the Broncos in November, which stopped Tebow's at-times miraculous seven-game winning streak cold in its tracks. And the Patriots have an .800 regular season win percentage while the Broncos are at .500. The same statistical matchup has led to four playoff victories in a row for the NFL playoff contender with the superior record.
Of course the game will be decided as much by the other players on the field as by Brady and Tebow. But it's impossible not to view the Patriots-Broncos matchup on Saturday as being about two all-American men caught up in an "Odd Couple" matchup of epic proportions.
For all their obvious differences, if anything binds the two gridiron leaders it's that ever-elusive “it” factor that goes beyond athleticism or personal beliefs, to something more essential embodied by both: an intensity and love for the game that inspires teammates to overcome pain and fulfill what they believe, at least at the time, is their destinies.
The epic confrontation should improve on the stunning TV ratings for last week's Broncos-Steelers game, won on the first overtime play after Tebow connected to Demaryius Thomas for an electrifying 80-yard touchdown.
People will watch, writes Chicago Sun-Times columnist Rick Telander, “to see if a running, bare-armed, cheerful, fundamentals-be-damned, totally retro, winning quarterback can beat … classically formed quarterback Brady in a game that is – remember – as vicious as it is pretty.”
Zeroing in on their individual merits and broader philosophical beliefs, the two QBs could hardly be more different.
Brady represents the ushering in of the quarterback age, where what matters most is pure passing skill, cool-headed leadership, and the intellectual ability to master intricate playbook calculus – a mold that's being filled by other superstars like Aaron Rodgers and Drew Brees.