As a professional talent scout who has attracted many of the top minds in the National Football League into my path over the past 30 years, I am always looking for what makes a player tick. I analyze everything – in slow motion. I look at every movement and every change of direction. I look at the level of effort and I tend to scribble something on a piece of paper on every play. It can take me hours just to evaluate and write up one player.
From the first moment I laid eyes on Tebow back when he was a senior at Florida – I was drawn to him and I am not drawn to many players.
I went to the Senior Bowl that season in Mobile, Alabama and I have this vivid memory of Tebow. He was in attendance, but he had a fever. He still stood there answering the media’s questions, “Yes mam…or no Sir.” He had a temperature of like 103, but yet he stood up there and I thought to myself, “Wow, this guy has a lot of composure.” Sometimes scouts fall in love with players – I fell in love with Tebow and became one of his biggest advocates outside of Sam Wyche and Marc Trestman. The other 98% did not like him. However, Josh McDaniel drafted him in the first round, Bill Belichick’s protege, which confirmed what I was seeing as an evaluator. My interview years prior at the Jets came down to me looking Belichick in the eyes and convincing him to hire me.
It was not until that 2011 season – Tebow’s first season with the Broncos until I really starting to be able to see what exactly it was that drew me to Tebow. It was the Holy Spirit. The more I watched him play – the more it was shown to me. I watched as Tebow pulled out game after game in the most dramatic and improbable fashion. I watched as everyone in the stadium knew he was going to run, but nobody could stop him. I watched as Tebow knelt before his Lord and Savior and it became a national phenomenon – and then I saw the thing that really did it for me.
Denver beat Pittsburgh in the playoffs that season and every single statistic of that game equaled “316” and that is when I knew that I knew that I knew who was behind it all.
Over the next few seasons, I also could see this was the reason Tebow did not make it with the Jets, Patriots or the Eagles. This was also the real reason Tebow eventually was out of football and nobody dared to put him back on the field as a quarterback. Tebow scared the hell out of the National Football League, literally. Tebow was someone NFL defenses could not stop and the more he did it – the more God received the Glory. The more God received the Glory, the more threatening it became to the people in positions of perceived prominence within the league and ultimately to the league itself.
Tebow is not someone who just talks about his beliefs and he is not someone who rattles off scripture and that is the extent of it. Tebow is someone who preaches with real power and real Authority (in other words he is able to do things that are not otherwise humanly possible). Tebow is someone who preaches with a demonstration of the power of the Spirit, much like the Apostle Paul wrote about – and whoever is anointed to do that is a real threat to the establishment. The thing that makes Tebow so polarizing is not Tebow. It is how the Holy Spirit works in and through Tebow.
Daniel Kelly is a former NFL scout with the New York Jets. He was hired on the regime which featured Bill Parcells, Bill Belichick, Scott Pioli, Mike Tannenbaum and Dick Haley. He currently writes for Sports Illustrated Detroit Lions and he is a contributing evaluator for Draft Diamonds. For more information about him visit his website at whateverittakesbook.com. He can be followed on Twitter @danielkellybook and his Facebook page is WHATEVER IT TAKES NFL TALK.