The Green Bay Packers (13-0) haven’t lost, and the Indianapolis Colts (0-13) haven’t won. Still, the story of the NFL season is Tim Tebow.
The Denver Broncos quarterback, equally loathed and loved for mixing an old-school playing style with lots of old-time religion, has led the team to six consecutive victories and seven wins in eight games since taking over as the starter. During the stretch, the Broncos have gone from also-rans to AFC West leaders at 8-5.
More improbable — even miraculous, some say — is that Denver trailed with two minutes left in each of its past four games. The late comebacks have been dubbed “Tebow Time,” and his genuflecting in prayer after touchdowns and victories is called “Tebowing.”
Expect the story to become even more compelling this Sunday, December 18, when Tebow leads the Broncos in their toughest challenge yet this season. The New England Patriots (10-3) visit Denver in what has become one of the most-anticipated games of the season — and one of the hottest tickets.
The cheapest ticket on the secondary market for the game at Sports Authority Field is $149, according to ticket search site SeatGeek. Company spokesperson Will Flaherty told TicketNews that the average resale price of $236 makes it the most expensive Broncos home game this season, ahead of the Chicago Bears-Broncos game on December 11 ($186).
In general, the Tebow Effect has helped Broncos ticket prices rise 44 percent since he was named the starter on October 12. The average price for Broncos tickets sold through SeatGeek before that date was $108; now it is $156.
The Broncos sent out a press release Thursday, December 15, warning buyers of counterfeit tickets making their way on to the secondary market and to take precautions to make sure the tickets are authentic. Another consequence of Tebowmania?
“There’s probably some element to it,” Broncos media relations coordinator Erich Schubert told TicketNews. “It probably coincides with that.”
StubHub spokesperson Joellen Ferrer told TicketNews that demand for Pats-Broncos tickets on the resale site tripled after the Tebow-led comeback last week against the Bears.
“Fans have been quickly snatching up tickets, and as a result, supply is dwindling,” Ferrer said. She added that less than 500 tickets remained for the game on StubHub as of December 15, whereas more than 1,000 remained for most of the other Week 15 games.
With three-time Super Bowl-winning quarterback Tom Brady and coach Bill Belichick, the Patriots visiting Denver is always a marquee game on the schedule. The Tebow phenomenon has only added to the hype.
“When the Patriots come in, it’s always big,” Schubert said. “Two old AFL rival franchises, two teams with winning records. You add the winning streak and all that surrounds it, and it’s our most anticipated game.”
Tebow graces the cover of this week’s Sports Illustrated, and he’s featured in this week’s Time magazine. NBC had sought to move the game to primetime as part of its flexible scheduling agreement with the league for “Sunday Night Football.” CBS resisted that move last week, and the network will broadcast it as a Sunday afternoon game.
Tebow’s emergence has sparked debate among fans and media, making him one of the most polarizing figures in the NFL since quarterback Michael Vick was imprisoned for dog fighting.
Critics knock Tebow for his unorthodox — some say inaccurate — passing style and run-first mentality as quarterback. Supporters say he has proven his legitimacy as a quarterback and leader with his late-game heroics — and the two national championships and Heisman Trophy he won while at the University of Florida.
Hall of Famer John Elway, in his first season as team vice president and a former legendary Broncos quarterback himself, was initially reluctant to back Tebow. The Broncos’ previous regime drafted Tebow with the 25th pick overall before last season, but with each comeback, Elway’s support has grown.
Then there’s the religious issue, which has generated as much discussion as Tebow’s play on the field. The son of Baptist Christian missionaries, Tebow’s outward displays of his faith are seen as insufferable to some and endearing to others. A Wall Street Journal story last week called him “God’s Quarterback” and “a lightning rod in America’s intermittent culture war of believers vs. secularists.”
Meanwhile, winning, whether through divine intervention or just plain hard work, is filling seats and driving prices up in Denver. And that is fueling a level of Broncomania that hasn’t been seen since the Elway era.