As we all know, 2016 was the worst year since the fall of Constantinople.
That’s why, as a Christmas present to America, I’m sharing the best idea I’ve had all year. I don’t mean to oversell it, but this could transform America. Here it is:
Tim Tebow should devote himself to becoming the world’s greatest rugby player. Then he should captain the US rugby team to glory in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.1
This plan is both utterly feasible, and beneficial to everyone involved.
Lost among the Hanes ads and the #Shaken tweets and that random baseball scheme, it’s easy to forget that Tim Tebow was one of history’s greatest college football players. And in the NFL, he did enough on offense to win both the AFC West and a playoff game.
He didn’t do any of that because of his passing. He did it because he’s a world-class athlete.
At 6 foot 4 and 245 pounds, Tebow has a Captain America body strong enough to fend off defensive lineman. For someone that size, he has rare speed, balance, and lateral quickness, with a knack for finding narrow running alleys. Even by NFL standards,Tebow’s combination of size, strength, and elusiveness was exceptional.
And if he could excel in the NFL, he could also excel in world rugby. (Warning: this next step requires sounding like an Ugly American. Forgive me). It is a conceit universally acknowledged2 that, if Americans actually try at a sport, we’ll be the best. Imagine if the Cam Newtons and Rob Gronkowskis, the Von Millers and JJ Watts, all played rugby. We’d obviously win.
*Cut to electric guitar music interspersed with scenes of bald eagles, fireworks, and F-16’s screeching over Mount Rushmore.*
Tebow had the athletic ability to rival players who, if they played rugby, would be the best in the world.
This is especially true for USA Rugby. Let’s face it: Their players are guys who weren’t quite good enough for major college football. If you’re a rugby star in high school, you’re probably a football star too. If you’re good enough, major colleges offer you football scholarships. If you’re not quite good enough, those scholarships don’t come. So you switch to rugby.
Let’s take one guy as an example. USA Rugby trumpets the fact that one of its stars, Nate Ebner, plays in the NFL. Ebner was a sixth round draft pick who is a pretty-good special teams player for the Patriots.
By contrast, Tebow was heavily recruited nationwide, was one of the greatest college players ever, had eye-popping numbers at the NFL combine, and was a first round draft pick.
If Ebner can star for USA Rugby, think of what Tebow could do.
And yes, the four years before Tokyo is plenty of time for Tebow to learn rugby.
Going the other direction, players have learned the ropes of football in just a couple of years. Like Ezekiel Ansah. Raised in Ghana, Ansah had never played football before walking onto BYU in 2010. Three years later, he was the fifth overall pick in the NFL draft.
Plus, isn’t devoting four years to the mastery of a new sport perfectly in Tebow’s wheelhouse? The guy is the walking embodiment of an Under Armour commercial. If anyone would throw themselves into training enough to make it work, it would be him.
Now to the best part–besides being feasible, my plan helps literally everyone. Including:
At first, you might think USA Rugby would oppose this plan. If Tebow waltzes in and makes the team, wouldn’t that cheapen their sport?
Instead of cheapening it, my plan would finally gives the sport legitimacy in America.
If Tebow announced he was trying to make the USA Rugby team, rugby becomes the hottest topic in sports media. Instead of a niche sport played by anglophiles and football rejects, it would lead off Sportscenter. NBC would embed a reporter at their training facility. Skip Bayless wouldn’t shut up about it.
Eventually, the talk would turn to whether rugby is America’s Sport of the Future.
Playing for USA Rugby is Tebow’s last chance to have a significant sports moment.
He’s never going to play in the NFL again. And that baseball stunt didn’t work either. Sure, he could go back to broadcasting, but that’ll still be there when he’s older.
Tebow is 29 years old. He only has four or five years of athletic prime left. He needs to make this last shot count. And unlike baseball, USA Rugby could actually work.
It’s also good for his brand. His press release can rave about the Olympic ideal of excellence and his desire to honor the country he loves so much. He could even mention the troops if he wanted.
Can you picture Tebow with a garland on his head and a flag around his shoulders, beaming about the prospect of bringing home the gold? Because I can.
The American People
But the biggest winners are we the viewing public. Can you imagine how great it would be if Tebow tried this? So much amazing would be in play:
- The hot takes would be sizzling. Has Tebow earned his spot on the team? Is USA Rugby just looking for attention? So what if they are? It would be the talk of every water cooler. The hashtag that dominates Twitter. The thing that makes smoke come out of Stephen A. Smith’s ears.
- Tebow would become the face of the Olympics. Picture the star-making apparatus of the Olympics spliced with Tebowmania. Picture the worldwide press in Tokyo trying to make sense of this cheery American. Picture the mob of fans following him around the Olympic village. The world may never be the same.
- Now go to the opening ceremonies. Tebow, with his farm boy good looks and puppy dog charm, Ralph Lauren blazer stretched over his chest, carries the American flag into the stadium. The world is jealous.
- He’s flawless before America’s match against New Zealand. As they perform their bloodcurdling haka,3 Tebow stands undaunted. Arms crossed, eyes intense, he silently prepares to defend truth, justice, and the American way.
- Thanks to Tebow’s magic, we make the gold medal game against South Africa. Trailing by four points with time running out, Tebow gathers his team around him for an Invictus-type speech about carrying their country on their shoulders. Play starts, and Tebow breaks free around the edge, with only a giant Boer standing between him and Olympic glory.
Obviously, America needs this plan. If any of you has connections with Tebow or USA Rugby, I trust you’ll pass this along.
Your country will thank you.
1 Confession: After I already wrote this post, I realized that USA Today beat me to the punch. Sigh. That’s 2016 for you…
2 By Americans, that is.
3 For those unfamiliar, the haka is the single coolest thing in all of rugby. Watch it now.
Photo by Philip Milne