I knew when I saw the one-character subject line (?) and the first line of a writer friend's e-mail (Musk ox?) that I had some 'splaining to do.
In case you missed my column from last night's Florida-Miami game, I compared Florida quarterback Tim Tebow to a muskox -- or musk ox, depending on your chosen text -- while analyzing the fact that the Hurricanes managed only one sack despite a well-crafted blitzing strategy and some excellent young pass-rushers.
One Florida fan e-mailed to say he was highly offended that I would compare Tebow to Ovibos moschatus, a large, furry ungulate that lives near the Arctic circle. The defending Heisman Trophy winner, whose attributes as a human being surpass even his superb abilities on the football field, should take no offense. The comparison was a compliment.
Allow me to explain.
I needed an animal analogy to describe Tebow's rare combination of strength and agility in the face of a pack of predators. Funny-named animals tend to pack more of a literary punch, but comparing Tebow to a platypus or an aardvark really would have been insulting. I considered a bull moose, but I refrained from that analogy because of its political implications; Teddy Roosevelt ran as the Bull Moose Party's candidate in 1912, and current Republican vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin's fondness for hunting moose and turning said moose into stew has been well chronicled in recent weeks. Plus, moose have a bad habit of getting run over by trucks, some of which resemble Miami's defensive linemen in speed and size.
So I went with the musk ox, which is unfortunately named because of the scent males sometimes excrete. And while that scent may offend the human nose, female oxen find it quite fetching. Now that Gov. Charlie Crist is engaged, Tebow is Florida's most eligible bachelor, so that part of the comparison works.
Also, while musk oxen look like huge, lumbering beasts, they actually are quite agile. Despite weighing as much as 800 pounds, they are surprisingly quick and nimble when negotiating rocky, snowy hillsides. And woe unto the wolf who tries to attack a musk ox herd. When defending the herd, the oxen gather together with their horns facing out. Should a wolf come near, the dominant ox might charge, trampling the wolf or tossing it with its horns. Tebow has been known to do the same thing to defensive ends with his stiff-arm.
Hopefully, Tebow took no offense at the comparison. He shouldn't. Who wouldn't want to be known as a giant, strong, quick, agile defender of the herd whom the ladies find irresistible?