As a member of the media, I can tell you there are two things we do exceptionally well: build people up and tear people down.
This is why I am hoping Tim Tebow stays away from New York next month during the NFL draft. It's nice to be invited. It would be smart for him to respectfully decline.
There isn't a single pro football analyst worth his weight in eye black who believes Tebow is a high-first-round draft choice, even with a modified throwing motion. And though the NFL has expanded the number of draft-day invitees from nine to 18 this year, the chances are still pretty high that 17 names will be heard before Roger Goodell says "Tim Tebow from the University of Florida."
Assuming Goodell is still in the building, of course.
Despite his tremendous work ethic and legendary college career, Tebow isn't being invited because he's predicted to be a top draft choice. He's being invited because his name generates buzz, which drives up interest and, presumably, ratings. It's about the NFL, not Tebow. I'm not saying it's a bad move for the league to make. I'm not even saying it's unethical. I'm just saying when Round 1 concludes and Tebow is still sitting there, his brand -- and yes, at this point, Tebow is a brand -- will have gone from that of a perennial winner to somewhat of a loser before his first professional pass.
Because for up to three hours we will see a steady stream of cutaway shots of a first excited, then nervous, then deflated, then dejected and eventually a hurt Tebow sitting at a table as analysts, bloggers and Gator-haters chat, tweet and cheer. For hours we will hear about all the things he can't do after years of hearing how he can do no wrong. For three hours we will hear why one of the most successful quarterbacks in college football history is being passed over by team after team after team, while he sits there and squirms on national television. In between jokes and bathroom breaks, viewers will be glued to their flat screens, wondering which team will take the guy out of his misery.
It's good TV.
It's brilliant theater.
It's not the way a rookie would want to come into the league, and I just hope Team Tebow is savvy enough to see that.
Remember how uncomfortable it was to watch Brady Quinn shift in his seat for hours as talking heads began shredding him for everything from having too much gel in his hair to having muscles that were too big? Before the 2007 draft, Quinn was a media darling and was predicted to go in the top 10. The more he fell, the more we could see his spirits fall.
That kind of disappointment is incredibly humbling, and not one a whole lot of people -- especially a 22-year-old kid looking for work -- would want to share with the rest of the world. But when there are cameras and eyes at every turn, there really isn't much to do in that situation besides deal.
Which is why I'm hoping Tebow doesn't put himself in that situation. He was the biggest star in college football for three years, and there really is nothing he can gain from being in New York that weekend unless he's a high-first-rounder, which doesn't seem likely. ESPN already knows who he is. GQ knows who he is. Everyone knows who he is. But a fair amount of that cachet could be lost if the final pick is announced that first night and Tebow's still sitting there.
No, unless a team has already informed Tebow, and the league, that he's going early, I'd rather see the guy throw a little draft party at home and have his handlers hire their own film crew. Tebow has worked really hard to create his brand, and he should protect it, not let the NFL cash it in for a handful of Nielsen points.
If he goes on to be a Super Bowl-winning quarterback, well, then he can supply the world with the footage of his draft-day reaction at his own discretion, like a home video. If he turns out to be a career backup or bust, well, then at least he won't have to spend the rest of his days seeing footage of himself sitting at a table, wondering "Why in the hell did I come to New York, and how soon can I leave?"
LZ Granderson is a senior writer for ESPN The Magazine and a regular contributor to ESPN.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.