Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Tim Tebow Is Not My Shepherd, Or Jesus Calls An Audible

Did the clock run out on "Tebow time?"  Has "Tebowmania" run its course?

After leading the Denver Broncos to a series of dramatic, come from behind victories in recent weeks, quarterback Tim Tebow and company lost to the New England Patriots last Sunday.

“God’s Quarterback” has come back to earth (pun fully intended).  Or has he?

For some, the game is an afterthought. 

It is Tim Tebow's Christian faith, combined with his leadership, that has the football world caught up in "Tebowmania." 

Fans everywhere drop down on one knee with a fist to the forehead in prayer.  "Tebowing," it's called, the pose Tebow strikes during games. 

Tim Tebow may be the savior football fans are looking for.  Or he may just be a hard working, consistently average quarterback on a so-so team. 

Did I mention that Tim Tebow believes in God? 

Born in the Philippines and raised by Christian Baptist missionaries, Tim Tebow was an All-American, national championship winning quarterback at the University of Florida and a Heisman Trophy winner.

He had the credentials and leadership "intangibles," but most scouts questioned his ability to succeed in the NFL.

He appears to be a man of strong character, genuine and gracious, a leader by example not given to prothelizing. 

Tim Tebow is hardly the first athlete to give thanks when given the forum.  The "God Squad" is everywhere.  We see it in player interviews, after a big play, or in player prayer circles after games.  None of this bothers me unless it is somehow implied that God roots for one athlete or team over another (though it's hard to imagine God rooting for the New Jersey Devils). 

As an aside, I couldn’t help but laugh when my son, then 9, thumped his chest and pointed his index fingers toward the sky after grace one night.  I found it funny.  My wife?  Not so much. 

The difference between Tebow and other jocks is that his ardent faith makes him a polarizing figure.  He's gone on missions, says he's a virgin, and created controversy last year by doing a pro-life commercial during the Super Bowl with his mother, who went against her doctor's advice to terminate her pregnancy with Tim.   

There's a vulnerability around religion that sets Tebow apart.  He's "walking the walk," being specific, not simply pointing to the heavens.  That rankles some people but Tebow appears, character wise, to be the real deal. 

He also seems to take the constant attention in stride while pundits have a hard time controlling themselves.   Announcers and scribes are all a flutter for Tebowmania.  At some point I expect Tebow to get sacked, then have Fox announcer Joe Buck scream, “He is risen!!”

So no, we have yet to see Tim Tebow turn day old bagels into Lobster Newburg or  a jug of Gatorade into wine.  And there's no truth to the rumor that his image lingered on a gym towel or that Topps plans to create a Tim Tebow football card with scripture passages instead of stat lines.

All is well in Tebowland as long as he is winning. If the Broncos hit the skids and finger pointing begins, he’ll get thrown to the Lions.

And I'm not talking about the ones from Detroit.

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