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A quarterback quandry

Over the weekend, two quarterbacks intersected in the news, as two ship passing in the night. One headed ashore, the other setting out to sea, a stormy one at that.

Thus, we address the careers of Kurt Warner and Tim Tebow, as they head on opposite courses.

How might it be that one rising from such depths as Kurt Warner, from a secondary college, to grocery store employe, to the obscurity of NFL's European farm system might arouse such an instant hassle upon announcing his retirement?

It was one of those morning sports gab shows that the subject grabbed my attention: Did Kurt Warner belong in the Pro Football Hall of Fame?

Twelve seasons, passer rating 93.7, 66-per cent completion, two Super Bowls with two different teams, 57-44 won-loss record, and the beat goes on. The fact that he is a Christian gentleman isn't a factor, for the Hall of Fame brushes off the matter of character, You know, boys will be boys. Yet, these judgmental men of broadcasting were casting out serious doubts that Warner should be Hall of Fame material.

Various reasons were barked out, neither of which is worthy a grain of sand. To get to my point, Kurt Warner is a first-ballot Hall of Famer, though that adds no fuel essential to establishing hia quality as a player, and as a citizen, whether or not recognized by the the Hall of Fame committee. ( I might point out, that to its credit, character IS one of the qualities recognized by the Baseball Hall of Fame, otherwise Pete Rose would have been escorted in by a blast of trumpets.) Consider, if you will Joe Namath. He was voted in before Roger Staubach and Fran Tarkenton, for instance.

Yet, in only four of his 13 seasons did he have a winning record, only 50-per cent completions, a 62-63 won-loss record and only a 65.5 passer rating, a dismal figure. He is in by virtue of one game, and yet, the season following the Jets upset of the Colts, Len Dawson engineered Kansas City's upset of Minnesota, introducing Hank Stram's play-action offense. Tebow, two years ago, was everybody's All-American, Heisman Award winner, a stud of a quarterback on his way to collegiate

immortality at Florida. True,, he hasn't repeated his

Heisman Award season, but Florida has won another national

championship. Yet, when Tebow checked in for the Senior Bowl

game last week, he brought with him an army of locusts.

Now, I grant you, the Heisman Award is no guarantee of

immortality, or a fat future in the NFL. (Quick now, remember Jason

White? Eric Crouch?Chris Weinke? All Heisman winners long

forgotten.) By the time the week was out in Mobile, Tebow's

stock had plummetted. One guy who's paid to rate these college

fellows had dropped him like a hot rock.

"Fourth best QB in camp, likely no better than a third-round

draft choice," he wrote. Ye gods, had be committed a crime?

He had been in and out of hospital with a strep

throat, but more than that---he had a sidearm delivery that

would never pass in the NFL> (Had he noticed, that Bernie

Kosar was also a sidearm thrower, and he managed to survive

in the NFL.)

It's early in the game to be passing firm conclusions.

Two years ago I was wrong about Joe Flacco. Coming out of

Delaware and giving a rural performance, no way he belonged.

The Ravens saw it another way, and he has been a steady

performer. So, Tim Tebow should not be judged from what he

showed in Mobile. It surprised me that he might even show

for the game, but that's the kind of man Tim Tebow is,

and can become.

Furman Bisher is one of the deans of American sports writing. The long-time Atlanta sports journalist is a member of the Georgia and Atlanta Sports Halls of Fame and in addition to his newspaper writing as authored multiple books profiling major figures like Hank Aaron and Arnold Palmer. He will write periodical columns for the Daily