Monday, January 09, 2012

Time on Tebow

In a season that has to be considered one of the most fascinating in this intriguing 2011 football season, probably nobody has produced more magic than Tim Tebow. I’ll never forget the game earlier in the year where the rookie from Florida entered the game in the second half against my team, the San Diego Chargers. Even though his team trailed by three scores, Tebow led the Broncos on a comeback that fell one Hail Mary short. My heart was racing when he launched the final pass; I was relieved when it fell harmlessly to the ground.
In the ensuing weeks, Tebow took over the starting position and led his team in comeback after comeback. It was usually the last drive when the magic took place. And his team somehow kept winning.  Then, in the last two weeks of the regular season and his team needing only one win, the magic fizzled. When the Broncos lost to what should have been inferior Bills and Chiefs teams, their fans were left watching the end of last week’s Charger/Raiders game, rooting for the blue and gold. San Diego didn’t let the Raiders go to the playoffs, so the Broncos backed into the playoffs with a dismal 8-8 record.
On Sunday, few expected the Broncos to give the 12-4 Steelers much of a challenge, even though the Pittsburgh quarterback was playing injured. Odds makers (who are usually pretty good at their trade) made Pittsburgh a 10.5 point favorite, which is like saying, “I dare you to put your hard-earned money on the underdog.” This is what many in the industry call a sucker bet, as just when you think a team like Denver might cover, Pittsburgh wins by 11 or 12 points. See ya, Ben and Grant.
It’s hard to imagine, then, that the Broncos—a notoriously bad football team in the first half—ended up leading at halftime by two touchdowns. Just when many of us were starting to think the upset was for real, the Steelers made their run. When the Broncos coughed up a costly turnover with just five minutes left in the game , Pittsburgh took full advantage, scoring a touchdown and sending the game to overtime.
With the Broncos receiving the overtime kickoff, the rest, as they say, is history. First and ten at the twenty, Tebow hit his receiver in stride, who ran 80 yards for the touchdown. Quickest ending to a playoff overtime game. Delirious fans. And unbelieving announcers. (In fact, before the station signed off, one of the after-game commentators asked, “Can Tebow do it against New England?” They all put their elbows on their desks and, in Tebow-like fashion, bowed in prayer.)
And besides comebacks, that’s what Tebow is known for. In fact, his prayerful pose (he did it as well at the end of the Pittsburgh game) was featured in the current edition of Time magazine, showing poses from around the world (including Athens, Israel, and Afghanistan) under the subhead “Tebowing round the world. The star’s signature prayer pose strikes again.”
Tebow has received lots of criticism for his religious faith. Some think he’s posturing. Others believe he’s disingenuous.  Having watched him play for the past three years, I disagree. (I should note that, generally, I have rooted against Tebow in the majority of his games, including all of the 2011 regular season, because his success got in the way of my team’s possibility to win the division.)
Here’s the thing. I understand rooting against a player because he’s playing against your team. I have shared some of my heartiest boos (in person) for players such as Kenny Stabler, Peyton and Eli Manning, Tom Brady, and yes, even this year, Aaron Rogers. Usually those who are more successful against my team draw my deepest ire, and in a stadium full of people, I can still make my voice heard from the upper section.
But I don’t believe those who hate Tebow feel animosity toward him merely because he plays for the Broncos, an innocuous team if there’s ever been one. In fact, I believe that the hatred many have for Tebow is a microcosm of the prejudice many have against religion, Christianity in particular. Here’s a man who many would rather was never born. His parents, however, were courageous, having him even after the doctor’s wanted to do an abortion early in the pregnancy. Today Tebow is a poster child against abortion, and that has to tick off the Margaret Sangers of the world. His mother had a choice, and according to the world, she should have listened to her doctor. Showing the doctors up by going against their advice to abort must drive them crazy.
In its January 16th edition, Time magazine claims that Tebow may very well be replacing Billy Graham and George W. Bush as “perhaps the most significant Evangelical Christian in the country.” Wow, that’s quite a compliment, though I’m not sure it’s totally accurate. But right now, a football player who boldly proclaims the name of Christ has the limelight. And it’s killing his critics, who are voracious in their stabs.
Listen to what Bill Maher tweeted on Christmas Eve after the Broncos lost to the Bills: “Wow, Jesus just *#*)ed TimTebow bad! And on Xmas Eve!” The conservative folks at Saturday Night Live mocked Tebow in a sketch. An Orlando radio station launched a “Get Tebow Laid” campaign because of his stance on abstinence.
The author of the Time article apparently feels this should be expected:  “If Christians like Tebow are going to bear witness so publicly, then they ought not to be surprised when they are talked about in ways that require them to turn the other cheek. To insist that criticism of Tebow—even vulgar criticism—is evidence that American culture is hostile to Christianity is wrong headed.”
With the possible exception of Michael Vick—his crime was with dog-fighting, and the animal rights activists will never forgive him for that, even though he’s paid his debt to society—no other sports figure has received such treatment. For example, I haven’t seen a movement against a womanizer like Tom Brady. And where is the society’s (even the media’s) outcry against Detroit’s Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh who is consistent at playing dirty, even stomping viciously on a vulnerable opponent’s arm? No, you won’t see Brady or Suh mocked on Saturday Night Live. But a Christian? The response appears to be, “Hell yeah, Tebow deserves it, that goody two-shoer!”
Whether or not you like his team or his style of play, when it comes to Tim Tebow, one thing is for sure:  He appears to be the real deal. Win or lose, he plans on giving the glory to God, rankling the hardened media and outspoken atheists. Yes, I’m still a little bitter Denver won the “tie-breaker” over my Chargers. But, as a matter of fact, I’m rooting for the AFC West champion Broncos to pull another upset, this time in New England, and head to the AFC Championship game. It’s true, on paper, the Broncos should get crushed. But that’s why they play the game.  And if they do continue to win, the Tebow critics will just have to deal with it.
That’s all I have. I’ve got to go now because I need to practice my Tebowing stance.

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