Tim Tebow: God’s Quarterback

He has led the Denver Broncos to one improbable victory after another—defying his critics and revealing the deep-seated anxieties in American society about the intertwining of religion and sports.

Patton Dodd
The Wall Street Journal
12/10/2011

On a brisk Thursday evening in mid-November, I sat high in the stands at a Denver Broncos home game, covering the ears of my 4-year-old son as the fans around us launched f-bombs at Tim Tebow, the Broncos’ struggling second-year quarterback. Mr. Tebow was ineffective and off-target for most of the game, and one of his more voluble and obnoxious critics was standing right in front of us.

But the heckler’s friend wasn’t joining in. “Just wait until the end of the fourth quarter,” he said. “That’s Tebow time.”

And so it was. In the waning moments against the New York Jets, Mr. Tebow manufactured a 95-yard game-winning drive, punctuated by his own 20-yard touchdown dash. He brought the Broncos back from imminent defeat, just as he had done in previous weeks against the Miami Dolphins, Oakland Raiders and Kansas City Chiefs.

And when the shouting was over, Mr. Tebow did what he always does—he pointed skyward and took a knee in prayer. In postgame interviews, the young quarterback often starts by saying, “First, I’d like to thank my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” and ends with “God bless.” He stresses that football is just a game and that God doesn’t care who wins or loses.

This combination of candid piety and improbable success on the field has made Mr. Tebow the most-discussed phenomenon of the National Football League season. Most expert analysts still consider him poor material for a pro quarterback. An inexperienced passer with awkward throwing mechanics and the build of a fullback, he likes to run over defensive players, which is a no-no in the NFL, whose starting quarterbacks are expensive and hard to come by…

In 2010, while still at the University of Florida (where he won the Heisman Trophy and helped the Gators to win two national championships), Mr. Tebow filmed a Super Bowl commercial for Focus on the Family, the mega-ministry known for its conservative political advocacy. The ad is about how Mr. Tebow’s mother was advised to abort her son following a placental abruption, but she refused and, well, now we have Tim Tebow.

The ad takes the softest possible approach to the subject and never uses the terms “abortion” or “pro-life,” but its intent was clear, and it generated controversy…

…At the national level, however, big-time sports is big business, with billions of dollars at stake, and Americans tend to be cynical about the whole show. In this world, Mr. Tebow’s frequent professions of faith can come across as a discordant note, equal parts over-earnestness and naïveté. It’s hard to resist the thought that, eventually, a darker reality will show through.

Mr. Tebow may indeed turn out to be a hypocrite, like other high-profile Christians in recent memory. Some of us might even want that to happen, because moral failure is something we understand. We know how to deal with disappointed expectations, to turn our songs of praise into condemnation.

What we are far less sure how to do is to take seriously a public figure’s seemingly admirable character and professions of higher purpose. We don’t know how to trust goodness…

Read the entire article at The Wall Street Journal.

Update: Visit American Power for links to more great Tebow articles.

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