Sat Sep 26 06:50am EDT
The dreaded virus has swept the hemisphere all summer, ravaging offices, schools, fantasy drafts and college football rosters across the country -- Tulane, Wisconsin and Ole Miss, among others, have already suffered through team-wide outbreaks that kept a substantial portion of the squad out of practices for at least a few days, and might have affected some game day lineups. A handful of key players for Florida were sick enough last week that coach Urban Meyer offered up the flu as an explanation for the Gators' relatively sluggish victory over Tennessee. (Perhaps it also diminished Lane Kiffin's killer instinct in that game.)
But reports out of Florida this morning suggest that the true test of the disease's mettle comes today, when the virulent strain of the virus coursing through Gainesville finally comes head to head with an army of the most upstanding, indomitable T-cells known to man:
A source close to the team confirmed late Friday night that Tim Tebow was one of several players to fly on a separate plane to Lexington from the rest of the team because he is sick with the flu. The source said that safety Major Wright was also among the players on the separate plane.
The Gainesville Sun reported this week that 97 percent of flu cases on UF’s campus this fall have been the H1N1 virus, also known as swine flu.
The Tebow Child is still suiting up, along with at least a couple dozen other Gators who, along with a few blessed patches of grass inside Commonwealth Stadium, will draw strength from their warrior quarterback's celestial mucus.
Of course, illness is just another chance to add to the ongoing mythology of the Child -- if his under-the-weather performance against the Wildcats is anything like other legendary competitors' efforts with the flu, his fever is likely to live on as the unavoidable story of the week. Either way, the pile-ups this afternoon will not be pleasant ones.
[UPDATE, 11:07 a.m. ET] Per ESPN, Tebow's ailment is "not being called the flu," as originally reported, but rather is "a respiratory illness" that does not include a fever. Tebow was "pretty weak" on Friday but is with the team and expected to go this afternoon as usual.