Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow has one Heisman Trophy, two national championships and, after Sunday, three career NFL starts. He is the spokesperson for the intangibles, endorsed by The Good, walking proof that work ethic and morality can exist not only in spurts.
Before it all, there was him and Chargers linebacker Brandon Siler.
In January 2006, Tebow enrolled at the University of Florida, and the freshman quickly forged a friendship with the junior team captain. Between the video games and offseason workouts, Tebow picked Siler's brain.
“Most of it was leadership skills because he knew I was the leader of the team once he got there,” Siler said. “He was like a big vacuum cleaner. He wanted to know everything that I knew and that I did and how I became the leader of that team.”
That season, Siler's last at Florida, ended with a BCS National Championship. The Chargers then drafted Siler in the seventh round, and Tebow emerged as the new Florida Gators leader in his absence, becoming the first sophomore to win the Heisman Trophy.
On Nov. 22, Tebow did not see the field when the Chargers played the Broncos at Qualcomm Stadium, making Sunday the first time the former teammates have faced off since the Gainesville, Fla., practice field.
Tebow said he considers Siler a “good friend.”
“I've got a great relationship with Brandon,” Tebow said in a Wednesday media conference call. “He was someone I definitely looked up to while I was at Florida. He taught me a lot of the things right when I showed up -- kind of showed me the ropes.… I just remember how much he loved football, and that was definitely something I fed off of, as well.”
Tebow, drafted in April with a 25th overall pick that was criticized by some, was widely considered an enigma at the professional level. Scouts critcized his slow release and speculated a position change would be necessary for success at the NFL level. Many said he shouldn't be drafted until the fifth around -- and maybe not at all.
On Wednesday, Broncos interim coach Eric Studesville was asked if, looking back, he thought Tebow was a steal in the late first round.
He answered simply: “We're glad he's on our team.”
Siler doesn't hesitate to defend Tebow, opining on all pre-draft naysayers with an animated “yeah, right.” He defends Tebow as a person, too.
People want to know if Tebow is who he seems, which is too good to be true.
All the summers spent volunteering in the Phillipines. All the religious beliefs that are spoken and lived. All the ra-ra moments at press conference tables and locker rooms that sound straight out of a Hollywood film.
“People try to make it like it's so unbelievable,” Siler said. “It's just that kind of guy does exist. He's that guy. He's a good person, and he's a good football player. I love Tebow, man.”