With a tip of the bowler to the late, great Sir Winston Churchill, Tim Tebow is a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma.
And jammed into one Big Apple, we might add.
Quarterback Tim Tebow cannot throw at the NFL level, but he completes clutch passes. Uncannily.
He's not a quarterback you can win with, but last year as starter he led the Denver Broncos to a 7-4 record, then to a playoff victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers.
He cannot rally an offense from a late deficit because he cannot throw, but last year he spearheaded six comeback victories in either the fourth quarter or overtime, including the first in NFL history from a 15-point deficit in the final three minutes.
He does not seek attention, but the sporting and gossip press swarm him at every opportunity, to the point he's pop-culturally omni-present.
NFLers past and present deride his abilities, but current players in the spring voted him the 95th best player in the league out of some 1,700.
The Broncos professed their undying love for him at the scouting combine in late February, then three weeks later signed Peyton Manning and all but gave Tebow away to the New York Jets.
And on and on you can go with this.
Does he suck? Yes.
Does he rock? Yes.
Herewith, five reasons for each.
FIVE REASONS HE SUCKS
1. POOR THROWING MECHANICS.
It truly is painful to watch him throw in practice, as I wrote July 29 after a visit to Jets training camp. His delivery is slow, buggered up, and never the same.
I'm no expert, but his shoulder swivel on his follow-through seems truncated to me. And when he speeds things up, he practically abandons his shoulder swivel altogether, which probably further hurts his accuracy and distance.
Greg Cosell of NFL Films, who is an expert on player mechanics, told me that "Tebow's legs, hips and shoulders don't work in proper sequence, thus his arm speed is very slow."
Purists notice. Purists cringe.
2. POOR VISION.
Maybe it's because the pro game hasn't slowed down for him. Or maybe it's because he locks onto an intended receiver. But while Tebow threw just six interceptions last year, far too often he didn't spot receivers who were open, or defenders who lurked in potential throwing lanes. The malady still infects his game, as seen this preseason with the Jets.
3. HE'S IN THE NFL, BUT CANNOT SUCCEED IN AN NFL OFFENCE.
This might be the most indisputable point here. And it drives purists crazy.
Broncos head coach John Fox knew it, and had offensive coordinator Mike McCoy build an entirely new offence around Tebow's running talents last October, after Kyle Orton led Denver to a 1-4 start in a traditional offence.
Tebow's was a run-based scheme, similar to what he ran so successfully as starter under Urban Meyer at the University of Florida from 2007-09. Lots of zone-read plays, when the QB either gives to a running back going one way, or fakes to him and dashes himself the other way after "reading" whether the targeted defensive end crashes in to get the running back.
Tebow's Broncos didn't pile up many yards. But the offence was effective enough. By running so much (in one game Tebow had more carries, 22, than any NFL QB since 1950), the Broncos burned time and shortened the game. And usually stayed in it.
Yet, as happens in college football with such run-dominant attacks behind run-specialist quarterbacks, once they fell too far behind, they were done. To wit: the Broncos' regular-season and playoff losses to the Patriots.
Not much in football is sadder than watching a quarterback like Tebow flail and fail as a pure passer.
4. HE WAS LUCKY AS HELL LAST YEAR.
Really, his critics say, the Broncos had no business winning most of those comebacks that Tebow orchestrated. Impressive? Only to a point.
Six late-game comebacks in 11 games? Tom Brady could play 100 years in his prime and never do that, it's so unlikely.
And Tebow won one game by completing just two passes. Two! It will probably be a long time before that happens again in the NFL.
What's more, did opposing teams help him out? They most certainly did.
When defensive coaches stupidly defied Tebow to beat them with his feet, he did (hello, Rex Ryan and the Jets). Similarly, sometimes when they defied Tebow to beat them with his arm, leaving no deep safety (hello, Dick LeBeau and the Steelers), he did that too.
Every Cinderella story reaches midnight. And Tebow haters like to think that happened in the AFC playoffs at New England, when Tebow's shortcomings were all exposed. A bad Patriots defence took away the Denver running game, and blitzed Tebow on passing downs. He couldn't do a thing, finishing 9-of-26 for 126 yards, and was sacked five times.
5. HE'S SO PERFECT, YOU HATE HIM.
How could all that saintliness be sincere, his critics wonder. You mean to say when NFL Films mic-ed him up for that one game, he didn't play it up for the cameras? Didn't accentuate his praying? Didn't exaggerate in the least his perfect, bubbly, choir-boy persona?
As well, he wants us to believe he doesn't want all the attention he gets. Guess someone forced him to appear on the cover of this month's GQ.
FIVE REASONS HE ROCKS
1. HE'S A WINNER.
That he is. The 25-year-old has far exceeded expectations at every level -- high school, college and now the NFL -- and won. Always he has won.
Few quarterbacks in NCAA history possess two national-championship rings, as he does.
Tebow plays his best -- even as a passer -- when the most is on the line. In the NFL he has been the ultimate version of the athlete who's a bad practice player, but a great game-day player. Uncommonly resilient, he often wills his team to win.
Such winners make the players around them play better, too.
2. HE'S VASTLY UNDER-RATED AS A BALL CARRIER.
He truly is. What vision he lacks as a passer, he more than makes up for as a rusher. He's not straight-line fast by any means, especially now that he's up over 250 pounds. But he's what announcer Keith Jackson used to call "sneaky fast."
And he has great feet for a runner. He makes clever, quick cuts. Finds the right hole almost all the time, too.
And Tebow possesses power that many running backs don't even have. He often just bulls over tacklers. Even linebackers. Most small DBs are no match for him.
He also has a nose for the end zone. He rushed for 57 touchdowns in four years at Florida, the most by any player in Southeastern Conference history.
3. HE'S MR. CLUTCH.
Hard to argue that. And, again, that goes all way back to Nease High school in Ponte Vedra, Fla. This is a trend, not a coincidence.
No quarterback in NFL history ever led his team to six fourth-quarter or overtime wins in 11 starts, let alone in his second season in the league.
Tebow's winning touchdown pass in overtime to beat the Steelers in the playoffs was perfectly thrown.
Broncos players last year began to trust that Tebow could rescue them from any deficit, because he usually did.
4. HE'S THE GREATEST. ROLE MODEL. EVER.
Christians absolutely adore the guy. He's humble, wears his love for Christ on his forehead, and gives much of his time and money to Christian causes, including evangelism in the Philippines, where he personally has performed mission work.
When Tebow told a captive Easter Sunday audience of 20,000 that Americans "need to get back to one nation under God, and be role models for kids," well, it's a good thing Mitt Romney already had the inside track to becoming the Republican presidential nominee.
What's more, Tebow's teammates admire him, even his outward displays of devout Christianity -- "Tebowing" included.
"How can you NOT accept somebody who has humility, who works hard, who is a great teammate?" veteran Jets linebacker Bart Scott said last month.
5. HIS VERSATILITY IS WHAT MAKES HIM A FOOTBALL STAR.
That's why Ryan said he wanted Tebow to be a Jet. Tebow can run a pistol, or zone-read, or any other run-gimmicky offence you want, yet still make enough plays as a passer that can kill ya.
Reminds me of a great story about longtime Ohio State coach Woody Hayes. His gruff personality and lisp belied an extremely well-read historian, on many subjects. Once at a faculty meeting, a football-hating OSU professor tore strip after strip off Hayes and his football program. Hayes listened intently, emotionless. Then he retorted, "What you say about me and about football may or may not be true. But I can tell you one thing that is very certainly true. I can do your job, but you can't do mine."
Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, Drew Brees ... none of them can do Tebow's job. But sometimes, especially when it counts, he can do theirs.