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Tim Tebow is the talk of Twitter ... especially for Merril Hoge

August 4, 2011 | 10:10 am

Tebow_640 Tim Tebow versus Kyle Orton. For most NFL fans it's a fun debate about who should be the Denver Broncos' starting quarterback. Of course it's a more serious issue for Broncos fans -- and apparently Merril Hoge.

The ESPN NFL analyst sent out a barrage of tweets Wednesday (five total) so critical of Tebow's playing ability that NBA superstar LeBron James of all people jumped to the former Florida quarterback's defense, also via Twitter.

Hoge returned to Twitter on Thursday with four tweets directed at Tebow, explaining that the views he expressed the previous day were about "football only."

It all started Wednesday with this post from Hoge: "Sitting watching tape off bronco offense from last year! Orton or Tebow? It's embarrassing to think the broncos could win with tebow!!"

Over the course of four more tweets, Hoge went on to say such things as:

"QB play is not just about who works hard gives rare rare college speeches or who is a good guy!! Because orton works hard And is a good guy as well. It's about who can play!!"

"That throwing motion he changed? U can't change who u r! Just watched 2 throws and he throws like he did in college!!"

"College credentials do not transfer to NFL ... ! You must poses a skill set to play! Tebow struggle with accuracy!"

Tebow responded on his own Twitter account with a simple, "Hey Merril...... 'ppreciate that."

But James had more to say in defense of Tebow, posting three tweets on the matter. He said, "Tim Tebow will succeed in the NFL. He's a hard worker, a student of the game, a natural born leader and most of all a WINNER!"

Of Hoge, James tweeted: "Guys get on that TV and act like they was all WORLD when they played. How bout encouraging him and wishing him the best instead of hating!!"

Hoge didn't sound like a hater at all in his Thursday tweets. He didn't back down from his views on Tebow's playing skills, but he called the quarterback "a good soul" and told him: "I'm a straight shooter and I have no agenda, so know i mean this, good luck this season and prove me wrong!"


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-- Chuck Schilken

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Photo: Tim Tebow. Credit: Ron Chenoy / US Presswire