Sunday, January 15, 2012

My Sunday Feeling

I got a text message Friday night. 

"Tim Tebow has been arrested for driving drunk.  A hooker was in the car with him.  He also had an ounce of cocaine in his possession."

"Whaaaaaaaaaaat?" I texted back as I reached for my iPad in order to get jump on the Internet. 

"I can dream can't I?" was the response. 

This exchange fairly illustrates the the mixed feelings from football fans surrounding the confounding recent success of Bronco quarterback Tim Tebow.  For those that don't follow football, Tim Tebow is a second year quarterback for the Denver Broncos who, as I type this, are scheduled to play, and most likely be defeated by, the New England Patriots this evening. 

The Broncos turned to him out of desperation after former Chicago Bear bust Kyle Orton reprised this role with the Broncos in steering them to a 1-4 start.  Since then the Broncos limped into the playoffs at 9-8 although they did win 5 straight with Tebow at the controls.  Which, quite frankly, stunned most NFL experts.

After all, although Tebow won the Heisman Trophy he did it in a running system at Florida.  Although he is by any measure a phenomenal physical presence for a quarterback, it is Adventureland whenever Tebow is required to throw the ball longer than 30 yards downfield.  Think of a paler version of Vince Evans and you have Tim Tebow.  Further, it is whispered that he is not exactly the brightest bulb on the porch. 

But you know what?  The kid has won football games with more frequency than he lost them this year.  And he has gotten the Broncos to within spitting distance of the Super Bowl in spite of his deficiencies as a traditional NFL quarterback and in spite of the predictions of the "experts" who said that the Broncos could not win with what amounts to a tricked out version of a college offense.

This would be the sort of story that you would think every football fan could get behind as everybody likes to see an underdog do well.  But as you can tell from the text cited hereinabove, not everybody is a Tim Tebow fan.  And this is why.

Tebow is an evangelical Christian who is not shy about proclaiming his beliefs.  At Florida his eyeblack came imprinted with John 3:16 on it, an adornment which the NFL forced him to eschew.  When a Bronco touchdown is scored or when they win, he points upward toward Heaven in Praise of God.  This rubs many people the wrong way, including me. 

But you know what else?  I don't much care.  I do wish he would eschew the rather Pharisaic practice of somewhat giving God credit for success on the field.  While Tebow  hasn't exactly said that he finds the hand of God in all of this, he hasn't much gone out of the way to disabuse anyone of this impression.  While I find all of this to be pretty irritating, it is no more irritating to me than it is when other athletes give God credit for making the big free throw or hitting a home run. 

This is Bad Theology to believe that God intervenes in human history to fix athletic contests.  I would like to think that the Almighty has enough on His hands with disease, war, famine and every other cause of suffering on the part of the human children He allegedly loves and for whom the cynic might suggest that He hasn't lifted much of a finger to save.

But with me, it goes in one ear and out the other.  I have little interest in any professional athlete's views on how and when God moves in those mysterious ways, His wonders to impart. 

And it bothers me not all that some evangelical fans have a heightened interest in the Broncos due to the success of Tim Tebow.  This is no better or worse than Catholics that follow Notre Dame for that reason or Baptists who are fans of the Baylor Bears.  But what DOES irritate me is the view of some fans that the Broncos' success is a sign of God's favor or that the Tebow's accomplishments despite his many deficiencies is practically miraculous.

Don't take my word for it.  Just look at how Facebook blows up every time Denver wins. 

Look.  Might I suggest another explanation that does not take into account divine providence?  The Broncos have a great running game, an even better defense, a what-the-hell approach to offense by the coaching staff and sheer dumb luck.  There you have it sports fans.

And I find it equally irritating that some people seem to want Tebow to fail for this reason.  Or are predisposed to view him as a phony.  Look.  As far as anybody can tell, and believe me there are those in the media who have tried to find evidence to the contrary,Tim Tebow is completely sincere in his faith and that his many good works come from this sincerity.  Even if he is a pain in the ass about it at times. 

And sure.  There wouldn't be this kind of buzz about Tebow if he weren't such a polarizing figure which I'm sure that the Broncos front office views as a mixed blessing at best.

Here's what I predict.  Tim Tebow and the Broncos will get sent packing by the Patriots.  But it will be closer than some folks believe because New England's defense is held together with spit and baling wire.  And Denver's defense is awfully stout. 

In the off season, the Broncos will try to find another quarterback because nobody, and I mean nobody, believes that they will ever go to a Super Bowl until they have a quarterback who can actually read defenses and throw passes that don't go end over end.

But I wouldn't put it past Tebow to pull it off tonight.  And I kind of hope that he does, because this is fun despite the fact that I find his public displays of religiosity completely off-putting.  Or that some people can't stand him. 

I just don't care about any of that stuff.

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