Monday, January 09, 2012

Tebow 3:16

Tim Tebow is my favorite athlete. And I don't mean just right now. I mean ever.

I grew up with the eventually-tragic Tony Conigliaro as my sports hero. I've had others whom I liked, a lot: Babe Parilli, Larry Siegfried, John Havlicek, Murray Oliver, Steve DeBerg, Dunc Wilson, Rajon Rondo, Doug Flutie, and Tim Wakefield, to name those that come immediately to mind, have all had a special place in my heart, for various reasons I won't go into here. Tebow, though, is something entirely different and special.

There's a lot to like about him as a football player, of course. He's a fearless runner, with a fair amount of speed, and defenses have to plan to contain him in that regard. He's not a stumblebum when it comes to passing, despite what some critics of his would have you believe. He may not have the most beautiful throwing motion, but if you give him the opportunity to drive a stake through your heart, by showing him open receivers, he'll kill you just as effectively as any of the more highly touted quarterbacks in the league.

However, it's more than performance that makes him my favorite. He's also intelligent, personable, gracious, and humble. He always defers to his teammates and coaches, never pointing toward himself with a "Me! Me! Me!" as so many football players and other professional athletes do. He's a fantastic role model for kids, a non-drinking, non-drugging, non-womanizing college graduate. And he's just plain fun to watch.

And it's also undeniably tasty to see people who criticize him floundering about whenever he wins.

The biggest problem that some people have with Tebow is that he's a Christian, and a very vocal Christian at that. When a microphone is thrust in his face, he first takes that opportunity to thank Jesus Christ. He then answers whatever questions are asked of him, in a polite manner, usually praising his teammates, coaches, parents, or whomever else he feels like showering with love at the moment. And, as I say, some folks have a problem with this.

Why? I'm not truly sure. It seems like a waste of energy to me. But Tebow engenders absolute hatred from some corners. And the people who hate on him come off as the sort who would kick a puppy. Tebow does absolutely nothing to deserve such treatment, other than declaring his religious values in public. I can understand where it might become tiresome to hear him say such things, but the viciousness of some commentary is amazingly vitriolic. And that puts it over the top for me. I'm a sucker for almost any underdog, and Tim being batted around in the media, in on-line commentary, and kicked around by blowhard pundits, just makes him all the more loveable to me as a fan.

Here's the kind of kid he is. Your reaction to the following says a lot about you.

Chicago Bears linebacker, Brian Urlacher, following Chicago's loss to Denver, was asked what he thought of Tebow's play. He said:

"He's a good running back. He does a good job running for them."

(Tebow is a quarterback, not a running back, so that's what you'd call damning with faint praise. If you don't understand that, you don't understand football.)

Tebow's response?

"Coming from a really good player, that means a lot."

He could have gotten righteously indignant. He had, after all, just completed EIGHTEEN passes against Urlacher's team, in the fourth quarter alone. Instead, he was gracious in victory.

Even better was his response to the Detroit Lions.

The Lions croaked Denver. Demolished them. It was not a pretty game for Tebow or his teammates. During play, one of the Detroit players, following a sack of Tebow, got down on a knee and mocked Tebow's now famous posture of prayer. Asked about it in the locker after the game, Tebow said:

"He was just celebrating, having fun with his teammates, and I don't take offense to that."

Do you really want to denigrate a guy who says stuff like this? Really? You may not agree with his religion, or his way of displaying it, but I think the world would be a much better place, overall, if more people had the attitude that Tim Tebow displays. And if your mileage varies, that's truly sad for you.

The best thing about Tebow, though, the absolute best thing, is when a stunning coincidence occurs, such as happened yesterday when Denver beat Pittsburgh in the playoffs.

The winning play came in overtime, an 80-yard Tebow touchdown pass to teammate DeMaryius Thomas. With that completion, Tebow ended with a total of 316 passing yards. Now, if you don't immediately get why this is so delicious, consider this photo from Tebow's college days...

Notice the inscription on Tebow's eye black? While at Florida, he often would write such messages, touting one scriptural passage or another, knowing that the cameras would be on him. A favorite was John 3:16, which reads...

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

Following Tebow's team winning the national collegiate championship, during which he displayed that message on his eye black during the telecast, there were over 94,000,000 hits on Google for "John 3:16". It pays to advertise!

He can't write such messages while in the National Football League, as they prohibit that sort of thing. But yesterday, on the biggest stage he's thus far been given, during a playoff game, his final winning pass brought his total yardage to 316.

Do I believe this is a message from God? To be truthful, I heard the number and didn't think anything of it. However, a whole bunch of folks in the media have latched onto it, and I suppose, if God really did care about sending messages via football games, that would be a pretty dandy way to do it.

(If you want more fun, tell a hater that the very first shot on TV, after those of the players celebrating, was of JOHN Elway, Broncos legend and current executive. Get it? John? 316? It's all too marvelous for words, really.)

Anyway, it's just great to hear the venom spewing from so many folks this morning. There was a fun article about the 316 yards and Tebow, written by a Boston blogger. Find it HERE. Good read, just fun stuff. But scroll down and read the comments. Yikes! You'd think this guy had just pissed on somebody's mother, by the tone of some of them. And every time I watch Tebow, and see him do something well, I know that there are thousands and thousands of these angry and miserable people pulling their hair out and gnashing their teeth.

You can't get entertainment value like that from any other athlete in the world.

God bless you, Tim Tebow (well, He does already, Tim, but you know what I mean.)

Soon, with more better stuff.

P.S. Yesterday's win by Denver brings them to play my New England Patriots next Saturday. Only one of them can win and move on, of course, and I'm a bit torn. I suppose, in the end, I'll be rooting for the Patriots, and I do see them winning rather handily over Denver. If Tebow pulls off another improbable win, though, I won't be heartbroken (or totally surprised.)


Uncle Skip, said...

Quite probably most folks out there just can't believe this guy's for real.
Oh, and Urlacher's not the only one who's said he's a running back. I heard Phil Sims say the same thing yesterday and got the feeling he meant it in the best terms.

Jenn Flynn-Shon said...

If his devotion and clean cut-ness are truly real then I can safely say I hope he sticks around and puts his beliefs out there for a long and healthy career. Kids right now are looking at him as their idol du jour and frankly it seems a far better hero to appreciate in rooting for a guy who actually loves people, appreciates talents of others and loves playing football as opposed to the players who get into the sport because they're talented but then throw it away on drugs, crime and prison.

I watched the game & was also rooting for the Broncos but I have to admit it was mostly because I didn't want NE to have to face the Steelers. During the whole game all I could think was that "Happy Gilmore" line "Happy learned to putt...uh oh..." Tebow is getting better every week, the critics are just wussies but they'll have no choice but to embrace him when he sticks around somewhere as a starter for a long time.

Hilary said...

Hey.. I read a sports post! ;)

People just like to have something/someone about which to gripe. Anyone who consistently does something a little different from the "acceptable" norm becomes a target. Sadly, that's what bullying is all about.

Craig said...

Thanks for this, Sully. . .

I love TT, too, and for most of the same reasons you do. The Broncos' run of last-gasp wins this season has been nothing short of stunning, and an incredible story all by itself, leaving aside the religious professions of their quarterback. (And I was a little disgusted by my Lions making such a show of mocking him, but it seems like bad form for me to be more upset about it than Mr. Tebow himself; that really is a pretty self-possessed, gracious young man, right there. . .)

I never fail to be mystified, nay, flabbergasted, by the way in which folks who profess tolerance as the highest of all human virtues, can muster up such intolerant venom for evangelical Christians like young Mr. Tebow (the Duggar family seems to inspire a similar brand of irrational, sputtering vitriol). It's like, 'live and let live. . . except for THOSE ASSHOLES!!!' I don't get it. . .

I understand that the whole 'take a knee and give thanks' thing can come across as something on the order of 'God is on our side, too bad for you', and I sorta habitually cringe at such minor 'devotionals'. The rain falls on the just and the unjust alike, and all that. . .

But what if, like TT says himself, it's just a giving thanks for the joy of playing football, and having such success as he's granted?

I think, too, that there's a resentment of him (and honestly, he's far from the only one) using his 'celebrity status' as a kind of evangelistic 'bully pulpit'; like, 'I signed up to watch a football game, not hear a sermon'. But, when I go see Paul McCartney, I pay to hear the music; so what if he wants to show me some animal-rights propaganda? Celebrities use their status to advocate for their favorite causes all the time. Tom Cruise and Scientology, Charlton Heston and the NRA, Alec Baldwin and hating George Bush, Dennis Rodman and Dennis Rodman. . . you get the idea. . .

Honestly, what does it matter to any quasi-secular American that Tim Tebow believes in God, or that Jesus died to save him from his sins? You disagree with his religious beliefs, OK. But who, exactly, is being harmed by it?

What if TT were a Muslim, proclaiming 'Allahu Akbar' whenever someone stuck a microphone in his face (gee, no-one's ever done that)? What if he were a Catholic, making the sign of the cross every time he scored a touchdown (I don't recall Mark Bavaro getting much grief for that, or any number of latino baseball players)? Why does Tim Tebow inspire such wrath from otherwise rational people?

Honestly, as a pro football player, I think the jury is still out on Tebow. The last pass he threw in regulation yesterday was AWFUL, pure and simple, missing an open receiver about as badly as he could've been missed. But then, his next pass hits the receiver in stride, and sends him on his way to the game-winning touchdown. Maybe some folks are pissed because it really DOES start to seem like God might be on his side. . .


(Yeef; sorry for the novel-length comment.)

lime said...

true confessions. i don;t understand football. 43 years of cultivated ignorance here. but i do know the name tim tebow and that there is controversy surrounding him regarding his faith. he sounds like a decent and gracious guy as opposed to someone who gets all sanctimonious and then raises hell later.

Suldog said...

Craig - NEVER worry about long comments. I adore them. Actually, you delineated quite a few of the other thoughts I had during my writing, but which I decided to limit so as not to drag it out too much. I'm glad you gave them in the comments.

Bill Yates said...

Wonderful post Jim! Hey, speaking of your Pats, what do you think of our formerly great Arkansas Razorback Ryan Mallett? Quarterback of the future?

Suldog said...

Bill - I'd like to think so. From what I've seen of him, mostly in pre-season, he looked like a real keeper. I'm assuming Brady has another 3 or 4 years left, at least, so I don't know if he'll be with us by then or have been used as trade bait. I'd like to keep him, but I also wouldn't want to see him languishing on the bench for that long.

Kat said...

This kid just makes me choke up. I think he is awesome. I don't care if he is the best quarterback or the worst, this kid is a quality person. I would be the proudest parent in the world if I could raise my kids to be like this. Just an awesome person.

I think Christians are under attack the way no other group of people is in America. Like Craig said, if it was a Muslim on the microphone praising Allah no one would say anything. As they shouldn't. But a Christian praising Jesus Christ just makes people so mad. It is crazy. And weird.

Like you said, I don't know if God wants to send messages via football (it's possible. lots of people watching) but it is pretty cool, coincidence or not. And I am one that tends to roll my eyes slightly when people thank God in sports but at the same time I am frustrated with myself for that. Because we should really praise Him in all things. Does God care about the outcome of a football game? No. But He does care about what we care about. He wants us to come to Him with everything. So, I guess I need to get my eye rolling under control. ;)


I loved this post. As a huge football fan. As a Christian. As a Teboe fan. As a fan of yours. Loved it! :)

Buck said...

Well said. I'm agnostic (heh) where Tebow is concerned except for the fact he played for Florida, which automatically makes him suspect in MY book. I don't watch football on Sundays, which makes ME suspect in a lot o' Real Men's books. So... not much of an opinion here.

But there's this:

...if God really did care about sending messages via football games, that would be a pretty dandy way to do it.

Nope. God sends messages via hockey games. True fact.

Stephen Hayes said...

Sign me up for what lime said, just change the number from 43 to 59.

Suldog said...

Buck - When my Bruins beat Vancouver, I certainly took it as a sign :-)

Jackie said...

Tim's responses to questions and criticisms speak volumes about him.
He is not about himself. If a parent could choose a sports figure for a son or daughter to look up to, to me, it would be Tim Tebow. Your blog is wonderfully always.

SarcasticTestGuy said...

I don't have any cash, but I will say (as a Patriots fan), well written! I also look forward to seeing atheletes who are stand-up members of the community, and there are two relevant pet peeves of mine:
1) People bashing good people, as they are doing with Tebow;
2) Arrogant, in-your-face athletes that strut around like roosters for doing the job that they are hired to do and not giving praise to the other folks on the field.

I can admit to liking Tebow quite a bit, as he is a good, stand-up fellow. I still hope he loses this weekend!

silly rabbit said...

I like Tebow too. Actually its more than like, its respect and admire.

I don't know why people get like that.
I think those are the same people who don't want nativity scenes in view of public places.
We are supposed to have freedom of religion here which includes tolerance of how others observe their faith.
It certainly does not harm me or anyone else if Tebow prays, thanks God, etc.
He's a nice young man. Shame on those people!

Tabor said...

As long as someone athlete or politician keeps their believes brief and sincere I see no reason they should hide them no matter what the religion is. But if they make it too obvious and hit me over the head with it, I do not like that. I do think if he was Muslim the fans would not be so generous.

Chris@Knucklehead! said...

I agree with you about 99% on Tebow as a player and a person. My ONLY frustration during all the "Tebow Time" hype during the regular season was that in MANY cases the Broncos were winning almost in spite of his play (that, and outright gifts from opponents). That has nothing to do with Tim himself though . . . it's more of a beef I have with the media.

And it's refreshing (though, now that I think of it, not surprising) that you and I have both picked up on what is probably Tim's greatest characteristic -- his refusal to take the bait and fire back at the haters. In addition to the two you quoted, I remember another instance where a TV guy had fired off an offensive "tweet" slamming Tim. Tebow's only response was, "Hey, thank, appreciate that." Maybe a TAD sarcastic, but nothing serious. And I outright LOVED his response to the Urlacher comment.

My ONLY beef (the other 1%) is because I think sometimes the guy overdoes it. To take a knee and pray on the sideline right before the second half starts (when you just had 15 minutes in the privacy of the locker room) does seem to be a little bit of the "look at me" variety. But it's minor, and given all of the guy's other great characteristics, it's easy to overlook. I mean, when you compare him to other athletes, the fact that he takes any crap at all is kind of a joke.

And as much as I would love to see him take out the Patriots next week, I just don't see it happening. Of course, I said the exact same thing about the Steelers, so who knows.

And just for giggles, I wonder if anyone will be quoting scripture if he goes 3-16 passing? Which, sadly, isn't out of the question.

messymimi said...

Thanks for this, as i also like Tebow.

For some reason, there are certain groups it will always be okay to hate on, and Christians are one of them.

3GKnight said...

I live in Bronco country and my pastor regularly uses Tim Tebow in his sermon illustrations. It's pretty funny sometimes. It's almost like he can't stop himself.

I would encourage everyone to pray for Mr. Tebow. Being in his situation is tantamount to teasing a dog with bacon. Satan is certainly going to try and cut him down.

Ami said...

I don't watch sports. I'm not even an athletic supporter. (ha)

And I don't care one way or another about Tebow's Christianity and giving credit where he believes it's due. It doesn't offend me or anything like that, although I am not a believer.

Where I run into a snag is, does Tim's God really care about a game? And if so, and the other team is praying too, does that mean God loves them less when Tebow wins?

I guess you can write me down as confused over it.

But I wouldn't bash someone based on their personal beliefs, and I've heard a LOT of Tebow bashing. I don't understand that, either.

Joanna Jenkins said...

I don't get the haters either. A positive role model who got there without a sex tape, drugs, steroids and the likes. People should lighten up.

But I admit, I never thought twice about Tebow... Until he beat Pittsburgh :-)

Yes, I'm from Cleveland.

SueAnn said...

God cares about the men on both teams...sheesh Ami!! And Tim prays to play his own best game!
As for who wins this weekend...well I hope it is Denver...sorry Jim!

Suldog said...

Ami - I think what you talk about here is a common misconception concerning athletes and prayer.

I don't pretend to be able to read minds, so I can't say for sure what Tebow prays, but I know what I pray when I'm about to take the field for one of my games. I ask that I be allowed to play to the utmost of my abilities (in other words, for me to make best use of the gifts which God has already bestowed upon me. Mostly, I'm praying for mental strength, no lapses in judgment, a trust in what I know I can do.) I ask that neither myself or anyone else is injured. And I usually pray for the team which deserves to win to get the victory (that is, if one team is truly dogging it and the other side is exerting an effort beyond their usual, I think that should be rewarded, and I pray that it will be.)

I expect most athlete's prayers are similar, and don't necessarily ask for God to make their team the winner. That would be asking for an awful trivialization of God's awesome power, IMVHO.

Daryl Edelstein said...

I think had Tebow not played for Florida to begin with he'd have less people disliking him. And since I know nothing about football or who plays who (aside from the Giants and even there my attention span is very short so I may have not heard Toonman's explanation) so you're asking why would I say that about Tebow and Florida? Because my late father was anti ALL Florida sports teams and I was/am still Daddy's girl.

Michelle H. said...

i watched the game. When it went into overtime, I predicted Pittsburgh would screw up like they did all those years ago, letting the other team go all the way down the field with the football for a touchdown-which they did.

I don't have much to say about Tebow, except that I hope the longer he plays football and is in the spotlight, the less of an attitude he'll get that it's all about him playing and not a team effort.

Barbara Shallue said...

I'm not a rabid football fan, just enjoy watching a game or two, but Tebow has caught my attention for all the reasons you mentioned - he's such a wonderful role model, which unfortunately in the world of college and professional sports, is becoming all too rare these days. I didn't realize his passes numbered 316. Love it!

Suldog said...

Michelle - Darlin', you have the wrong idea. Tebow has absolutely NO idea that it's all about him. He constantly praises his teammates and coaches and everybody BUT himself. It's the media who have made it all about just Tebow.

(P.S. I didn't even think until just now that it was YOUR Pittsburgh team I was rooting against! Sorry!)

cube said...

BTW I'm here via Silly Rabbit...

As a Floridian, I've been following Tebow's college career for a long while and I'm very glad that he's doing well in the NFL. I wish he were closer to home, but I find myself rooting for the Broncos for the first time ever.

Jewels said...

Hubby was just telling me this story yesterday and I thought it was amazing. I hope this doesn't mean that all football fans will become crazy religious zealots, but I deeply admire a man who is not afraid to show his beliefs.

Carolina said...

I don't know anything about sports involving a ball and I'm not religious, but I've often thought that someone who dedicates his/her victory in any sport to God (or Allah, or any other 'higher power'), must have a great sense of self-importance. For why should his/her God help him/her to win and not another competitor who is religious? Isn't it talent, training and perseverance that makes a great athlete?

But I'm not offended if someone shows his/her belief. I just wonder.

Cielo Evoi said...

I think, like you said, Tebow is a great role model for everyone, period. He has everything, yet he is as humble as ever. He has really proved his worth in a sea of criticism and scoffing. I'm also a fan of the Broncos, so maybe that's why I'm lavishing him. :")

Craig said...

I was speaking with a friend the other night, and he said that, whenever some solid Christian gains a large measure of 'public celebrity', he prays for them, becuase the pressure on them to accommodate to the world can be tremendous, and that he fervently hopes that Tim Tebow is still the same person five years from now. . .

innominatus said...

Steelers fan here chooses to remain silent...

(But admires Tebow and hopes him the best)

Jeni said...

I very much appreciated your words about Tebow as I too don't understand the reasoning behind those critics of his praying on the field (or off, too). What, really, is the big deal about that anyway? Who knows, and who cares, really, what he prays for? Does it really make a difference in the grand scheme of things? Those who criticize him, make fun of his actions when things (games) don't always pan out in Denver's favor just don't understand that because one prays doesn't mean all prayers go answered the way we present them! Besides that, it is just a game and perhaps he simply prays for God to give him the ability to do his best on that particular day and sometimes, no matter how hard we try -or how much we pray -sometimes, our best seems unattainable at times. Some days it may just be someone else's turn in the bucket or -our own. My thoughts really are totally with Tebow and for the critics to shut up and look at themselves and their lives first! If they are perfect -in every way -then critique away but I rather think they'll not see themselves in such a grand light then. Well, I would hope not anyway! Great post on a really good topic!

Sandy Kessler said...

1- The Patriots will win They are a better more balanced team
2- I just don't get this Tebow bashing thing. First of all I have heard athletes thank their creator for years, they genuflect on field , look heavenward, and bow..what's the problem?Is it because he doesn't carry a gun, abuse his wife, do illegal things is that the role model we want?Tim Tebow is the real deal. Kids who kept the press away from him in college and personal friends report he has a very small head and would softly thank them for their time as they walked him to class. Here in Fla I'm an FSU fan because they have all been coached by Wvaians and I love that Chief Osceola on the horse Fear that spear !! But I also adore Tim Tebow,He is not a posturer . He is real and this week is speaking to youth at a religious conference...Sorry to say Tim Tebow will lose this weeeknd and the dimwitted press will shout where was your God today? But Tim Tebow will be on his direct line with HIM and HE will say "Well done my good and faithful serveant"

Sandy Kessler said...

When Tim Tebow's mother spoke at an event when he was in college and said how she almopst aborted him then got her faith back in spades, I cried and cried and there he stood with his arm around her. Urban Meyer said he never coached such a selfless, pure individual. I know many students who know him from college and say they like to be around him because he is so genuine and his goodness rubs off. He is not boastful nor every arrogant just full of joy !!

The Broad said...

So many people are so insecure in their own thoughts and beliefs that seeing someone so secure in their own place can be very off-putting. And for some reason threatening. I don't know much about what goes on in football these days -- being so far away and what American football games are broadcast are so late that it has to be special for me to watch -- like if the Patriots are in the Super Bowl I'll stay up to watch that! Tebow sounds like he's a good man and one who is committed to living a good life -- and living in the spotlight, as he does -- well a good prayer life isn't going to hurt!

Jay at The Depp Effect said...

Great post. I don't get the hate, either.

To be honest, when anyone (football players, singers, actors, ordinary people in the street, whoever) take the opportunity of being in the public eye to evangelise, it makes me cringe, perhaps because I'm a Quaker and to me, religion is deeply personal and private. But this is their choice, and their right, and does not call for hate, but understanding, and even admiration, because it will seldom raise your stock in the eyes of most people.

Tim Tebow seems to be a fine athlete, though I'm never behind the Broncos because 'my' teams are always against them! However, if they can beat NE, I'll love them for that alone! ;)