It is the stuff of legend: A spunky young kid brings new life to a show that had grown tired, and suddenly the world discovers this new thing, thanks in part to the efforts of this one rising star. Then, in the wisdom that is best understood by those who inhabit dark offices and back rooms, that kid is replaced by a big name star in order to bring even more cachet to the show that they hope will make them all rich.
Or: A fading star has been pushed to the side by a changing scene, and hopes to make one last glorious return to the limelight. Spoiler alert: This isn't just the rehashed plot of "The Artist," it's also the story of Peyton Manning. The kid, and I do feel comfortable calling anyone who is half my age "kid," is Tim Tebow. A story this old gets replayed hundreds of times over history. This time around, I told myself I would try not to care, but I do.
I understand that professional football is a business. Winning is good for business. That's why the powers that be grumbled but were outwardly patient with Tim Tebow's brand of late-game heroics. He won football games. The trouble was he was doing it in ways that made those dark-office folks unhappy. His was not a product that they could rely on. At least that was the conventional wisdom of nearly all the football minds who bothered to speak their minds. And there were a lot of them.
Suddenly, "one of the greatest quarterbacks ever" becomes available. Peyton Manning brought his talents to the league after thirteen years in Indianapolis. The Denver Broncos became the lucky suitors of Peyton's abilities and will pay him ninety-six million dollars over the course of the next five years for them. Of course, if he goes down in a heap due to the neck injury that sidelined him all of last year, that contract is mostly moot, but it doesn't take into account hurt feelings or bruised egos. There weren't very many NFL quarterbacks who didn't feel some wave of fear or resentment as Mister Manning made his tour about the country, in search of a new home. It just happened that when the media circus came to rest, it landed squarely on Tim Tebow.
And so it ends as it began, in a flurry of TV and Internet reports, speculating on the potential of this player and that franchise, and the dark-office guys count their money as the number fifteen jerseys come off the shelves, replaced by the ones with the number eighteen. "Sorry kid, it's business, you know?" The wheels keep turning.
"Are you not entertained?" Russell Crowe, owner of a football team, as Maximus in "Gladiator."