OTR Interviews

'Tebowmania': Godsend or 'national nightmare'?

NFL great Joe Theismann weighs in on Charles Barkley's comments on the Tim Tebow phenomenon


This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," January 12, 2012. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: There's no denying it. Denver quarterback Tim Tebow is a sports sensation. Whether you are a sports fan or not, you have seen the images of the Denver Broncos quarterback kneeling in prayer after each touchdown. The pics are everywhere. The fans have been cheering him like crazy.

But wait. Is the tide turning against Tebow. Listen to what one basketball player turned commentator Charles Barkley said on the radio.



CHARLES BARKLEY, FORMER NBA PLAYER: The national nightmare continues.


BARKLEY: The national nightmare continues. Hey, listen, I like Tim Tebow. But there comes a point -- listen. He had a great game. He is supposed to have a great game. They want to see like the world is aligned. You know, he does play quarterback. He's supposed to play well.

MISSANELLI: So you have had enough Tebow?

BARKLEY: I think the world has.

MISSANELLI: There are a lot of Tebow fans out there. I've had enough. I agree with you. But the people we got today, because I'm not a big Tebow guy, and they are just killing me today, Charles.

BARKLEY: Well, listen, I don't know anything you said about Tebow, but let's say the jury is still out on Tebow.


BARKLEY: He seems like a nice kid but these ups and downs are so, like, different. Like the jury is still out on Tebow. Because he had a great game and four or five great throws yesterday, that doesn't mean he will be a great starting quarterback in the NFL.


VAN SUSTEREN: Is Charles Barkley right or is he petty? Former Washington Redskins quarterback great Joe Theismann joins us. Nice to see you, Joe.


VAN SUSTEREN: Your thought on Charles Barkley as he says it's a national nightmare, or something about Tebow?

THEISMANN: I don't think it's a nightmare at all. I think it's an opportunity to enjoy an experience. The things that Tim Tebow has done he's done in an unconventional manner. He doesn't look like Tom Brady or Drew Brees or Aaron Rodgers throwing the football. But he has won football games in such dramatic ways that you can't help but wonder what's the next thing. I guarantee you the biggest game will be New England and Denver besides the Giants and Green Bay in some people's minds. It will probably be the one that people will look at the most.

Charles loves to say things and Charles loves to come up with stuff. I think the world of him. I think he is funny and think all those things about him. But I think he's wrong here. I don't think he is a nightmare. It's refreshing in professional football to see somebody that is doing things the right way as opposed to the things that have gone on before, stepping on a player, the drug accusations, some of the things that have been black eyes for the NFL. Why not enjoy it? Let them have the moment. I would say, let's enjoy it while it lasts.

VAN SUSTEREN: I also think he is playing football. He is entertaining. We love it. We love to watch him to do well. He had a phenomenal game against the Steelers last weekend. The cameras are on him all times. The fans have created this thing about him.

THEISMANN: We have in the media, especially today. We know what the media is like today. Everybody is socializing through the media. I think the thing with him is it's the dramatic fashion with which he has won these football games. Each week we don't know what is going to happen. Mike McCoy, their offensive coordinator, continues to create ways to get him involved. Charles would appreciate this in basketball. When you are asked to take the last shot and you keep making it and making it and making it, you become bigger than life. That is what Tim has done.

VAN SUSTEREN: He has done enormous amounts for that franchise. He has lot people watching.

THEISMANN: He has the world watching. As far as kneeling done, there are many people that have given thanks. Guys have knelt down a long time. This is not unusual, what Tim does. But he has done things in a way that we have never seen in football. By nature we don't know if we want to digest. We want the old time football, but you are not getting that.

VAN SUSTEREN: You mentioned the old time football, and since we aren't far from Baltimore, and I'm married to a guy from Baltimore, the Baltimore Colts, Johnny Unitas had the record, 49 straight games with a touchdown. It probably will be tied by Drew Brees of the New Orleans Saints. He is a great player, very nice guy. To the Baltimore Colts fans, it's a different game. We can't take away from Johnny Unitas.

THEISMANN: You can't rewrite the record books simply because it's a different era, the 16 games versus 12 or 14. To me --

VAN SUSTEREN: Today they have more time to throw. You can't hit them as hard.

THEISMANN: You can't hit the quarterback as much. You can't hit the receivers at all, hardly. You throw the ball more. You are in the shotgun all the time. There are so many different things where this game is different than it was back then. But those records are still in the books. It's like the constitution of the United States. There are things in the constitution and say they didn't anticipate the Internet when they wrote that and some of the rules that are out there. And I think that is way you have to look at football.

VAN SUSTEREN: Is it fair to say that after Joe Theismann, Johnny Unitas was a pretty good player?

THEISMANN: Before Joe Theismann, Johnny Unitas was a great player.


THEISMANN: And there have a lot more before that. Just having a chance to play in the National Football League was a dream come true. I get a kick out of watching what Tim Tebow is doing. Let's applaud it. When Michael Jordan was winning championships we wanted to see somebody else win it. When Tom Brady was winning championships, I would like to see somebody else win it. I don't know how long it's going to last. I don't know how long the ride is going to last. Enjoy it.

VAN SUSTEREN: I think it's fun to watch because he's so young, two years in the league.

THEISMANN: Sometimes it's like an ugly duckling. He'll throw an out pass sometimes you don't know whether it's going to row three or row one or another zip code. And then he throws them down the middle, and if you didn't know he was throwing you'd say what a great pass by Tom Brady.

VAN SUSTEREN: The pass last week was a stunner.

THEISMANN: All three of them. It's the dramatic fashion with which he is doing it. It's like every time the stage is set, everybody is out there going he is going to fail now. I don't think they will beat the New England Patriots. I don't think Broncos will beat them, but I guarantee it's going to be probably a lot closer than people think.

VAN SUSTEREN: Packers or Giants, who do you think is going to win?

THEISMANN: I know your affiliation. I pick the Green Bay Packers and the Baltimore Ravens to be in the Super Bowl and the Packers to win it in August.

VAN SUSTEREN: That may harm my marriage.

THEISMANN: That is my story and I am sticking to it.

VAN SUSTEREN: Joe, thank you.

THEISMANN: Good to see you again, thank you.