You sit around at a local watering hole in small towns, medium-sized nooks, the suburbs that span the Midwest, a city here and there, and chances are you will overhear several sports-related tales being rehashed over a cold beer. The last bit of a cigarette slowly smoldering, with the ash length bending like a mini banana, the storyteller stops, flicks the remainder into an old dirty ceramic ashtray—the one with a superimposed newspaper clipping of a local team’s 1978 title, the print faded and distant—and says something to the effect of, “Yeah man, those were the days.” The listeners nod, take a sip of beer, maybe a giant bite into a burger or an objective approach toward finishing a wing…and then they stare off into a personal reflection that usually redefines what they know as regret. “Yep, the good ol’ days.”
These types of instances are the decades-old (probably longer) ritual of the Has Been, the man or woman teetering on obscurity and desperately tying to re-cement a legacy that is fading to a Never Was. And this type of action doesn’t only fit into the sports world. Pop Culture has morphed into so many different aspects of life that it’s just as easy to find the hopeful designer from Indiana, who never had the inner-push to get to New York City and now dreams all day while stuck at the J.C Penny shoe section, as it is to find the four-sport high school God, who peaked at 18 and now spends his days selling you the best goddamn insurance this side of the creek.
Regret is blind to your passion. It doesn’t care of the profession, either.
The collective makes for a general slogan, almost a war cry among the defeated and the stalled masses who forgot how to dream—or had to stop because the rent was overdue. Plain and simple.
Where there is defeat, though, there is also victory.
The flipside to this dilemma has spawned an impressive group. A generation’s worth of thinkers, movers, shakers, artists, and risk-takers, the ones who got out. Tried. The effort and drive led them to take that risk, make that move—or perhaps they decided to keep chasing whatever the hell “it” is in hopes of not looking back, knowing their time to be the guy or gal sitting at the bar telling tales of yesteryear is getting closer with each failed attempt at infamy.
Take a closer look at the latter, and you will eventually arrive at Tim Tebow.
If you haven’t been following, Tebow, the ex-NFL quarterback—a Heisman Trophy winner while at the University of Florida—is attempting to become a major league baseball player. (If you’re waiting for the punch line and the snare drum and symbol…well, sorry, this is real. No joke.) On August 30, in Los Angeles, California, the seemingly forever-shunned QB will attempt to reinvent himself as a professional athlete…again…in one of the most difficult sports to conquer, not to mention one of the most crowded, talent-wise. So far, a reported 20-plus teams have agreed to attend the workout.
As expected, the decision has been met with both cheer and jeer, with the likes of Gary Sheffield supporting the spectacle as real, and not another Dog and Pony Show for the talking heads to debate to a shade of purple exhaustion. Play ball, Timmy! You are an athletic specimen, and you did hit .494 as a junior in high school.
To the doubters, on the other hand, there is a hint of desperation with this. Tebow has been a circus the last few years in the NFL (and beyond). No team thought he had what it took to be a quarterback, and oftentimes his charisma and passion to succeed has resembled nothing more than a brown paper bag, sagging with loads and loads of must-see TV saturation. Play ball, Timmy? Baseball thrives on failure. The best of the absolute best can quickly become nothing more than a slow-handed pawn in a game that tips its cap to a 30-pecent-success rate. And who gives a shit what you hit in high school.
This tug and pull will continue as the 30th nears. The pending workout will strike up conversation—oddly enough, at the local watering holes—as well as debates in Primetime and across the blogging world.
For some—maybe most—they will reflect on all of it with that same glazed stare as the bar patron. It’s the dirty little infatuation we have, where we watch celebrity-types from within, judging and dissecting the similarities in our own little worlds (or hells). Right? Wrong? Give it up. Hey bro, keep it going. What the fuck did I do? Why didn’t I…I need to try…but, now? Too little? Too late?
For others, though, they will, and should, applaud a man who is taking chances, going after a goal and a dream that has probably netted the town where Tebow will hold his workout over a billion dollars in movie sales. Kevin Costner, meet Tim Tebow.
Welcome to Hollywood! What’s your dream?