Yesterday, the Denver Broncos, down 10-0 to the Chicago Bears with about five minutes to go, orchestrated an unlikely comeback. Tim Tebow, the rookie phenom for the Broncos who seems to always turn it on in the fourth quarter, threw a touchdown pass that brought Denver within a field goal of tying it up and sending it to overtime. Then, inexplicably, Marion Barber, the running back for the Bears, didn’t run out of bounds, therefore not stopping the clock and allowing the Broncos to get the ball back as time ticked down. Denver got it far enough down field to kick a fifty-nine yard field goal, the longest in franchise history. The game went into overtime tied at ten. The Bears got the ball and were driving, and then Marion Barber, who seemed determined to play the role of goat in this one, fumbled the ball and Denver recovered. This time, after Tebow successfully drove down field to allow the kicker a reasonable attempt, it was a fifty-one yarder that put the game on ice. The Broncos went to 8-5 on the season, and 7-1 with Tim Tebow as quarterback. They now lead the AFC West. This was their third overtime win with Tebow under center. I said phenom, and I meant it. I’ve never seen anything like what’s happening with this team. After the game, the sideline reporter for Fox interviewed Tebow. What came out of his mouth, when he’d caught his breath? “Well, first off I’d like to say thank you to my lord and savior, Jesus Christ.” He then blathered on for a while before signing off with a “thank you, and God bless,” aimed at the reporter, before jogging off the field, flashing his pearly whites.
In case you didn’t know, Tim Tebow is a Christian, and I mean a hardcore Christian. Whenever he throws a touchdown he goes into his signature pose, kneeling down, a hand to his forehead like Rodin’s “The Thinker.” And whenever he can possibly get a word in on TV, he’s running off at the mouth about his faith. Bob Costas did a report on it before the Sunday night game yesterday. He spoke about how much of a polarizing figure Tebow is. The Detroit Lions, when they played the Broncos and handed them their only loss with Tebow as QB, mocked his kneel-down pose and caught some flack for it. They’re part of a group that want Tebow to knock off all the God stuff. But there are plenty of others, Christians and those who are all for the open displaying and discussion of ones’ faith, who think this guy is, pardon me for saying, the Second Coming. He’s a good looking kid, a fine athlete, the definitive all American football poster boy. So there’s a segment of the population he’s going to appeal to, and there are the ones that he isn’t. What Costas said during his report was that regardless of how you felt about Tebow, you had to admire his athletic ability, his confidence, and his resolve. Those things all had to be a big part of a success. And as far as the “miracles” he keeps pulling off? Well, we can all draw our own conclusions about that, can’t we?
Here’s where I come in on the whole thing. I do, in fact, appreciate Tebow’s confidence. He has an unorthodox throwing method, so it seemed unlikely he was going to do much in the NFL. He’s made it work so far, but whether he’ll have long term success remains to be seen. I think he’s been extraordinarily lucky. The Broncos have been playing better lately, particularly on defense, so that’s a big part of what’s going on. But the Bears had them beat, dead to rights, yesterday, and it was not one, but two supremely awful plays by Marion Barber that were the difference in that one. As long as the Broncos keep finding ways to win, more power to them, I suppose. I don’t think it’s miraculous, but I do think it’s been a fun and entertaining story, and I look forward to watching this team for the remainder of the season. As far as the Jesus stuff goes, though, that’s where I draw the line. You can be religious, as long as your beliefs don’t adversely affect anybody else; the problem is, so many of them do. So many organized religions incorporate sexism and gender biases, and so many of them have been responsible for inflicting so much death and misery throughout the centuries. I’ve railed enough here on the site about religion before, so I’m not going to do it now, but suffice to say I’m happiest when your beliefs, whatever they are, are taking place as far away from me as possible. I don’t want to hear you talking about them, I don’t want you trying to convert me, and I don’t want you using television as a national forum to draw attention to your faith. Just as education and religion should be kept separate, I believe the same thing about sports and religion. There’s nothing to stop Tebow from saying and doing whatever he wants. It’s a free country. But I’m not going to be a fan of the guy, no matter how good he is, if I’m hearing the Jesus song and dance whenever he gets close to a microphone. I find it distasteful, and I know I’m not alone in this. This is not a “Christian nation,” no matter how much Rick Perry says it is. I just hope that the next time a sideline reporter gets a “God bless you” from Tebow, he or she responds by telling him they’re an atheist. Not that I expect someone like Tebow to even know what that is.