Tim Tebow: Divine intervention in Denver?
Vail, CO Colorado
I’m not very religious. I have a father who was raised Jewish, a mother who was raised Christian, and I’ve been brought up in some strange amalgamation of the two, mixed with a pointedly secular understanding of the world.
I’ve never been to church nor synagogue, and I’ve never seen prayer as a remedy to any obstacle I’ve encountered in my life. All told, I generally consider myself agnostic; if there is something greater than us, I’m not sure what it is, and I’ve never seen any conclusive evidence of it. As such, I’m hard-pressed to believe that any divine entity particularly cares about the success of the 2011 Denver Broncos.
But no matter what one believes, no matter how one views the world, no matter how much knowledge one has of sports, there is absolutely no denying that something special is at play here.
Tim Tebow and the Denver Broncos are simply defying logic, time and time again. There is no explanation as to how dismally-awful team a year ago is atop the AFC West. There is no coaching scheme that can bring a team back from 10-plus points with two minutes to go twice in seven games. There is no statistic that measures heart, resilience, and a refusal to say, “die.”
No, these Broncos are unquantifiable by any measure. And as everyone with functional eyes and ears knows, nobody has been more emblematic of the enigma that is this Denver team than a certain Timothy Richard Tebow.
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Producing a reaction
When the name “Tebow” is invoked in conversation, a veritable firestorm of opinions are instantly brought forward. Very few of these opinions can be considered anything close to neutral. It seems that people gravitate toward either uncontrollable adoration or pure hatred towards the Broncos quarterback. No player in the modern era has engendered this sort of debate amongst the general populace. So why should Tebow, and not the likes of former convicts like Michael Vick and Plaxico Burress raise so much criticism and loathing?
All the man does is go about his game like a professional; never saying a word that could possibly stir up any controversy, never showing anything but respect to his teammates, coaches, and opponents alike, and always turning the other cheek when his detractors attempt to incite him. And off the field, Tebow is an even more reputable figure; embarking upon humanitarian missionary trips to help underprivileged children in Africa when he is not using the might of his charitable foundation to build hospitals for sick kids in the Philippines.
So why, then, does this great athlete and humanitarian stir up such controversy? It’s certainly not his throwing motion or anything he says. Rather, it’s a problem with us, with America’s xenophobic, cynical culture.
People hate Tim Tebow because he’s different. We expect our pastors to preach religion, and our athletes to swear by performance-enhancing drugs, money, booze, and women. Tebow upsets that balance in a way incongruent with all norms. Professional sports are littered with narcissists who believe that they are the center of the universe. Tebow believes God is the center of the universe.
Whether one agrees or disagrees with this philosophy, it is what allows Tebow to be the perfect teammate. He is unselfish to a fault, deflecting all praise he receives to his God, his teammates, his coaches, and so forth. Never will you hear Tebow blame anyone but himself for his team’s failures. It is this humble, selfless spirit that has made Tebow one of the best leaders of this era. He inspires his teammates with his us-vs.-them, team mentality. Such an attitude defines the identity of this Broncos team.
No man places himself before the greater good of the team; something which very few teams outside of New England can claim. That approach has worked fairly well for the team that rolls into Denver on Sunday.
Too good to be true
People want Tim Tebow to fail. They want him to slip up. They want him to say the wrong thing, to make a play that costs his team the game, to fail in one of his already-famous comebacks; anything to prove he is not the divinely-ordained conquering hero that they believe his supporters think he is. But the man refuses to give in. If there is one truism about Tim Tebow, it is that he is the real article.
Although some of his philosophical opinions may be different or unpopular, he refuses to change them to fit the mold of what this culture expects a professional athlete to be. So what if he gets mocked for being a virgin, for claiming that his relationship with Jesus is like that of a husband and wife? Tebow does not care. He does not change his view. He stands for what he believes to a fault. And maybe that adds to a group of people’s dislike of him, but Tebow does not care. He just keeps doing the right thing, on and off the field. And winning a lot of football games in the process.
In a society where the most-discussed celebrities are the Lindsay Lohans and Paris Hiltons of the world, Tebow is a frightening concept. This culture loves nothing more than to watch the mighty fall, to watch the famous become drug-addicted or scandal-plagued messes. Stories about pedophilia, violent crime, and drug abuse permeate the airwaves far more than feel-good stories, even on sports stations.
This is what Tebow-haters have come to expect, and they cringe at the thought that one man can be so close to perfect in such a corrupt world. They cringe every time a sentence begins with “I’d like to thank my Lord and Savior.” They cringe every time Tebow lights up a fourth-quarter stat sheet. They cringe every time a Matt Prater kick flies through the uprights to give Denver another “miraculous” win.
They don’t believe their eyes. It’s inconceivable that such a good human being can be such a great NFL player as well. It’s just not fair. He can’t have it all. But without fail, Tebow does. He is the complete package. And it doesn’t seem likely that he will change anytime soon.
Maybe it is divine intervention. Maybe secularists like myself need to head down to the chapel on Sundays. Maybe it is dumb luck, a series of fortuitous absurdities that have become a fluky pattern. But maybe, just maybe, the karmic balance of the sports world is intact for once. We needs more heroes like Tebow instead of Ben Roethlisberger – who, by the way, could very well be a first-round playoff opponent. And God knows (no pun intended), that if Tebow and co. somehow hoist the Lombardi trophy at the season’s end, something greater will certainly be at play. It would be, quite frankly, a miracle.
A Battle Mountain alumnus, Ascher Robbins took time out from studying for finals University of Colorado Law School to contribute to the Vail Daily.