New York Jets quarterback Tim Tebow has the highest ratio of airtime to playing time in NFL history. We in the media all are complicit in this statistic.
But one four letter network admits it led the charge a little too aggressively.
ESPN president John Skipper said he has told producers to dial back all the network's Tebow coverage, according to Sports Business Journal.
Skipper said he was bothered by a quote from former ESPN radio host Doug Gottlieb, who once was told by a producer that "you can't talk enough Tebow."
"The quote that I hated was from Doug Gottlieb," Skipper told John Ourand of the Sports Business Journal last week. "I didn't love that. I want people to think about what works for the next 10 minutes might not be the best thing for us for three years. That one hit home with me."
Skipper said he didn't have any problem with ESPN's training-camp coverage of the Jets, but it sounds like the network's coverage of Tebow grew tiresome during a season in which the quarterback barely has played.
"In some ways, the more difficult internal conflict is between long-term story telling and ratings," Skipper said. "We all know that if you focus on the Tebow story, for the next 10 minutes you're going to do better. But the question is trying to take a long-term perspective and saying, 'Guys, let's not get over excited about one story and hyping it.'"
We don't often dive into media criticism, but Skipper's words are fascinating. It's a rare inside look at high-level decisions about coverage.
Tebow has been a lightning rod and a proven numbers-grabber for networks and websites like us. After this lost season in New York, the reality is setting in that Tebow is just a backup quarterback who's struggling to find work. It could be a while until he has a legitimate chance to start again, so it's only fair that the hype gets turned down a notch, too (even if the dialing back is overdue).