Monday, January 09, 2012
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.)
"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.)