Rich Gannon sticks up for Tim Tebow

LeBron James has company when it comes to defending Denver quarterback Tim Tebow against criticism levied by ESPN analyst Merril Hoge.

Former Oakland quarterback Rich Gannon questioned the ability of Hoge -- a former running back -- to evaluate quarterback play. Wednesday on “SportsCenter,” Hoge was highly skeptical of Tebow’s ability to become an effective NFL quarterback. James tweeted about it later Wednesday, supporting Tebow.

Continuing the firestorm, Gannon spoke about it Thursday on his Sirius radio show. “It bothers me when old running backs or old offensive linemen who’ve now become analysts start analyzing the quarterback position," Gannon said. "They’re not experts at it. They’ve never played the position. I’m always curious, when they put on the tape, what are they watching? Are they watching footwork? Are they watching mechanics? Are they watching anticipation? Do they understand what the quarterback is told in terms of the progressions, where the read is? You know, so those are the things that really bother me and I just thought he came out and his comments were very strong and I thought a little out of line when you talk about Tim Tebow.”

Gannon said he thinks Tebow will succeed in the NFL.

“[Tebow] did some good things last year,” Gannon said. “I think he has a bright future in the league. He’s no different than a lot of young quarterbacks. There’s things he’s got to work on, things he has to get cleaned up. The only way he’s going to do that is to go play. And so you got to be patient with him. He played a handful of games last year. … And this guy is a good kid and he wants to be great, he wants to do the work. Teammates out there love him, he’s competitive, he works at it, he does all the things you like in a quarterback. Yeah, does he have to get better in terms of his accuracy, in terms of his mechanics and things he’s got to get cleaned up? Certainly, but we have to give the guy a chance … You look at Tim Tebow, he’s got some of the things I admire in a young quarterback. I think he’s tough, he’s got some grittiness, he’s a competitor and I think he works at it. He’s got great feet, he’s got mobility, he can run with the football, he’s tough and yet he’s got some things he’s got to get better at in terms of the passing game ... As you look at him there’s a lot of things that I like about him and I just think he’s going to prove a lot of people wrong if people will just give him a chance.”

What does it mean? Not much. Just like the fact that Hoge’s criticism doesn’t mean Tebow will have a lousy career, Gannon’s assessment doesn’t mean Tebow will be a star. It is further evidence that Tebow is perhaps the most polarizing player in the NFL.