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Tim Tebow?
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What do American Conservative readers think about Tim Tebow? I have just finished watching the Denver Broncos’ come from behind victory over the Chicago Bears in which Denver, losing 10-0, scored a touchdown and field goal in two minutes to tie the score and then made an amazing defensive play in overtime that led to a field goal to win. Tebow was incredible. He is now 7-1 as a starter, with many of the victories coming at the very end, even though he would appear to have none of the traditional skills required of an “NFL quarterback.” The first thing he said after the win was to thank Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and even the studio pundits at Fox sports were clearly stunned by what had happened. So was I. It brought tears to my eyes.

I would describe myself as a cultural Catholic in that I subscribe to the church teachings on an ethical/moral basis but I am far from sure that something that we might call God really exists. I rarely go to church and I find organized religion suffocating. But what is it with Tebow? A guy who so clearly is a believer and who bases his life and all his values on that belief and who draws incredible strength from that… Is there something there? Are we heading for a Superbowl in which Jesus is the “twelfth man?”

(Republished from The American Conservative by permission of author or representative)
• Category: Foreign Policy • Tags: Football 
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  1. Not if he is up against Aaron Rodgers in the playoffs.

  2. JS123 says:

    I have to say I’m on the Tebow bandwagon, but I think the air of the miraculous comes to an end next week when Denver is crushed by the Patriots.

  3. JS123 says:

    P.S. You should go to church.

  4. If he can develop his pocket passing skills, he could make it. If he doesn’t, the defensive coordinators will accumulate enough video to make his life miserable very soon. He’s been successful so far based on his ability to get his teammates to play over their heads, as well as staying within his own capabilities. He’d make a heck of a QB in the single-wing era.

  5. JS123 said “You should go to church.”

    That’s as may be, but whenever I’ve been paying attention Phil always seems to be doing the Lord’s work.

    I used to play golf with a guy who would audibly pray as he addressed the ball. I couldn’t stand it. It was bad form, did God little honor since I generally rose to the challenge of defeating His champion. Tebow’s a wonderful athlete. Eventually he’ll realize that a little Jesus goes a very long way.

  6. MattSwartz says: • Website

    Chuck Klosterman (click my name for the link) mined this stretch of land in the aftermath of last weekend, and I have little to add to his masterful piece, except this:

    Don’t we all watch sports primarily because they give us a way to believe? And if this is so, doesn’t our passion for them suggest that we were designed to believe?

    I believe that we were, and while I believe that the ultimate satisfaction and realization of our instincts can be found in the Incarnate Christ, I think that every one of our passions is instructive. Tebow plays like a man possessed. In the fourth quarter, he rallies and leads like a character drawn by Carlyle. But Carlyle always did offer depictions, not explanations. All the Carlyle in the world cannot produce a Carlylean Great Man, but somehow the religion that Nietzsche mocked for what he saw as it’s inherent slavishness keeps cranking them out. That’s a hell of a coincidence, no?

  7. My thought on Tim Tebow is that either most of the nation’s sportswriters or I have become sadly out of touch with the ethos of American athletes that they would express surprise at his overt religiosity. Growing up in a culture where there was an FCA chapter – Fellowship of Christian Athletes for the uninitiated – in every high school, not to mention most colleges, I had always found it a commonplace in interviews with ballplayers in a variety of sports to hear credit given by the victors to God generally or to Jesus specifically. Not all athletes expressed such sentiments, indisputably, but certainly enough have done that even one as serious about his religious commitment as Tebow should not be considered an anomaly. Christ and sports have gone together like love and marriage since Bobby Richardson starred with the New York Yankees in the days of my youth, and well before that, of course, there was Billy Sunday. The same phenomenon will have been noted among that other segment of American warriors – members of the U.S. Armed Forces. The most churched communities in America are those that lie by military bases.

    As a conservative Christian myself, I find nothing disturbing about Tebow’s expression of his faith, or that of our soldiers in our theaters of war abroad, except that it begs the question of whether God is really taking sides in such contests and battles as to be interested in the outcome. On American ball fields FCA members are playing for both teams in most instances, and most team chaplains are not so gauche as to pray for victory in the huddles that are formed before play commences – only that God would permit both sides to play to the best of their ability, physically, mentally and ethically, and that no one should be injured. Of course, if I were a betting man, I would have to acknowledge the odds are better placing one’s wager on the chaplain who simply prays for his team to win. Meanwhile, on those more serious fields of combat, where our adversaries may be more likely to call upon God to intervene in a name other than that of Jesus Christ, it is an evil to be condemned that nations resort to war, not only because they have failed to resolve peaceably their disputes as to territory, natural resources and legitimacy of forms of government, but because they would make war substitute for their inability to engage in reasonable theological debate. That wars typically end so badly for all involved I take as a sign that God has placed a curse on all such belligerents. And, in the end, we all die and must answer to our Maker.

    What I find more disturbing is that we don’t witness more Nobel, Oscar, Tony, etc. prize winners give credit for their achievements to the Source of their talents and good fortune. When I hear of the first Pulitzer winner who stands to receive his award and say he owes it all to Jesus Christ I know we will see no more columns written about the “phenomenon” of Tim Tebow.

  8. TomB says:

    I have a hard time reading or hearing anything about this given that I don’t see that anything would be written or said about it unless there was some sneaking suspicion that indeed it’s this guy’s belief in/thanking God that’s responsible for his successes.

    “No no no,” you then hear it said (and indeed even feel your own brain sympathetically tugging you towards), “it’s just refreshing to see someone so fervently believe in *something.*”

    But that’s not really it, is it? It’s really that … atavistic hope in God’s existence and responsibility. Because otherwise we’d feel just as sympathetic to the guy who solemnly ascribes all his successes to … eating lychee nuts and twice daily high colonics.

  9. Westie says:

    I’m in agreement with William Dalton as to the ethos of American athletes and soldiers as being mostly unknown to the humanistic/left side of American Culture. Mr Tebow reflects many other great athletes such as Reggie White and Danny Wuerffle not to mention the good effects of great coaches as stand ins for father’s in a lot of lives.

  10. SteveM says:

    It’s a common misconception to think that Tim Tebow prays to God for victory. He doesn’t. He believes that football is only a game and God does not care who wins or loses.

    The hateful atheists latch onto that misapprehension though, even if they know it is untrue, because it’s their favorite cudgel with which to beat believers. It’s a free country, (sort of). I’m curious as to why they even care.

    P.S, Tebow is thankful for the platform that football gives him to proclaim the “Good News”. And that’s about it.

  11. Sheldon says:

    Anyone who believes God determines the outcome of games while not too far from the stadium in certain neighborhoods children are suffering from hunger or worse really needs to rethink his theology.

  12. tbraton says:

    I’m about as far away from Tebow on the religious spectrum as you can get, but I have been a big fan of his from the start at the U. of Florida. Of course, it probably helped that I adopted Florida as my “home team” when I moved to Florida long before Tebow’s arrival, even though I live on the Atlantic coast far from Gainesville. There are a few things to keep in mind.

    First, he is a great natural athlete. Believing in God or Jesus Christ doesn’t make you a great athlete. You have to be born with that talent and then work to develop it. A deep faith may inspire one to work hard to develop those natural athletic skills, but faith alone does not endow you with those talents. I know that when I was younger I was a fierce competitor who hated to lose, and I had absolutely no religious faith at all.

    Secondly, he is an inspirational leader on the football field. You can tell from the reactions of his Bronco teammates that they truly love the guy. I know that I would have loved to play on the same team with Tebow when I played back in high school. I witnessed the same thing when he played at Florida and rallied the Gators to victory after victory. Even Bobby Bowdin, the great coach at opposing FSU (who coached many great players himself) admitted after one Gator victory over FSU that he had never seen a football player able to will his team to victory like Tebow. Does belief in God and Jesus Christ inspire Tebow to be a great leader on the field? It is difficult to argue that it doesn’t.

    Thirdly, Tebow so far lacks the skills to be a top-rated QB. I watched the game against the Dolphins that started the current streak. Tebow was absolutely dreadful for the first 55 minutes. He was throwing passes that fell off-target, far short of the receiver. He was so bad that I switched to another game with the Dolphins leading by 15-0 and less than five minutes to play. When I saw with disbelief on the other channel that Denver had scored to narrow the gap to 15-7, I switched back in time to catch the second Denver TD and the tying 2-point conversion and the winning FG in OT. I had to shake my head in disbelief after watching the first 55 minutes of Tebow performance. It is important to keep in mind that Tebow is playing, in effect, his rookie season and is likely to improve over time. Even Peyton Manning, one of the greatest QBs in NFL history, had a mediocre first year playing for the Colts. My hunch is that, while his QB skills are likely to improve a lot with experience, he will never attain the status of a Peyton Manning, a Tom Brady or an Aaron Rodgers. He is likely to be a long-term successful NFL QB sort of like Fran Tarketon, an earlier QB of considerable talent, very entertaining to watch but not of the highest caliber.

    Fourthly, it should be kept in mind that Denver’s defense has been pretty damn good during the current “miraculous streak.” That has enabled the Broncos to remain relatively close until the final quarter and permitted Tebow to pull out his last second miracles. Unless God or Jesus Christ has bet a lot of money on the Broncos the last seven weeks, I don’t think Tebow’s religiosity has a damn thing to do with the current streak.

  13. Professional football (including Division I college) has become so much the tool of what we once referred to as Madison Avenue that I can’t make it through 10 minutes without burning up the channel changer…just way too many slick talking heads and way too many ‘entertaining’ commercials. They have about ruined the game. The main reason we are talking about Tim Tebow is that he is the mustache on the Mona Lisa except that this Mona Lisa is 100% the production of the entertainment dream factory. In some respects I would compare Tebow to Ron Paul: what you see is pretty much what you get and you can rely on it. This might be called counter culturalism in their chosen industries, the two now joined at the hip. That any are able to slip through and survive on the basis of reliable transparency for even a little while is probably a glimmering of divine providence showing in the woods.

  14. “Meanwhile, on those more serious fields of combat, where our adversaries may be more likely to call upon God to intervene in a name other than that of Jesus Christ, it is an evil to be condemned that nations resort to war, not only because they have failed to resolve peaceably their disputes as to territory, natural resources and legitimacy of forms of government, but because they would make war substitute for their inability to engage in reasonable theological debate”

    The trouble is, unlike the other causes of war you listed, theological disputes can’t be settled by splitting the difference, and there is no empirical or objective way to sort out the claims.

    Tebow is not a good QB statistically, but he is winning in a balanced, well-coached offense. He is more of a throwback to the quarterbacks of the leather helmet days when a QB was expected to run, and run well. I figure it will take until next season to figure him out.
    Part of the problem is he wears his religion on his sleeve, which is regarded in our culture as tacky, as is the constant references to God and Jesus for letting them make a tackle or run out a double play. The other part is that a quarterback is also the de facto team spokesman, and Tebow does not interview or speak well. He sounds like a sugar buzzed 8 year old telling you about his trip to the circus.

    From a buddhist athiest, who is known to light a candle at the shrine of St Vincent of Lambeau.

  15. Broncos are going to be crushed by the Patriots? By what logic do you come up with that? Long time Pats fan here and the Pats will lose to the Broncos for the following reasons. First, Denver has a very good ground game which will keep Brady off the field. They have an excellent defense which will be tough for Brady to crack, especially as he doesn’t seem to be at the top of his game often throwing behind his receivers. Then Boy Genius Bellichik’s tremdously horrid pass D, that he has studiously avoided improving for over 6 years now will allow Tebow to have his best game of the year so far. Bellichik’s D had made several mediocre qbs look like Hall of Famers this year. Tebow is going to have a field day!

  16. Bob Weber says:

    Tebow is the Rocky Marciano of football. No style, no grace, no technique, but a big strong kid who can win. The late George Allen would have loved him. @Ben in OKC, you’re right, he’d make a great single-wing TB. One of Allen’s favorite players was QB Billy Kilmer, who played single-wing for Red Sanders at UCLA, and led the Redskins to many “miracle” comeback victories. KIlmer also lacked grace and style.

  17. TomB says:

    SteveM wrote:

    “It’s a common misconception to think that Tim Tebow prays to God for victory. He doesn’t. He believes that football is only a game and God does not care who wins or loses.”

    Then why does he go down on his knee thanking Him when he does win? Insurance?

  18. Bob S says:

    What did Solzhenitsyn say in one upping Karl Marx?
    “Sports is the opiate of the masses”.

    Tebow is your typical American evangelical who only believes there are nine commandments. He’s for real, but evangelicals are still confused about the fourth.

    Regardless, the Protestant Reformation was for real no matter that many of its contemporary adherents fall short of its attainments, much more the genius of America is protestant.

    That is, if Lord Acton’s dictum about absolute power corrupts absolutely was written in the context of papal supremacy and the divine right of kings, the US is a constitutional republic which enjoins the separation of church and state.

    As perceptive as Joe Sobran was, he couldn’t understand that if the South could secede from the North on the basis of that constitution, the evil of slavery notwithstanding, so too Protestantism could secede from the deformed Roman Church, on the basis of scripture, which is the constitution of Christianity.

    IOW sinful men, even those paid to play in ball games, can only be saved by faith alone, in Christ alone, through predestinating grace alone, to the glory of God alone, which good news/gospel/evangel is revealed in the Bible alone.

    Likewise that’s the only way cultural/cradle catholics get saved.
    I know. I was one once too.


  19. C Bowen says:

    Having watched, played, read about, and watched football for 30 years, there was always a question if some version of the wishbone, or triple option, could work in the NFL.

    The problem was the high school and college ranks were not recruiting or preparing the right kind of player (north of 240, athletic, accurate passer, and upper Bell Curve) to run a triple option at the NFL level.

    By the early 2000s, high schools had switched to spread (4-5 wide outs) and Pistol formations (modified shotgun formation like the old Veer) and adopted the modern triple option–and more recently, the biggest kid/best athlete was groomed at QB–no longer the lines or TE.

    Tebow (and Colin Kaepernick 6’6″ 230 on the Niners) fit a new paradigm in a league where only 5-7 QBs can dominate. It’s such a radical departure, particularly the aesthetics of a run first offense, it is fascinating that it took a Tebow to break the Passing Barrier.

    The coach who drafted him was fired; the ownership/management didn’t care for him, but his teammates believed they could win, and when they started the season with a horrible record, the rest has followed.

    Noted elsewhere, other teams now think they will lose.

    And it’s exciting for football fans.

  20. phelps says:

    Those waiting for Tebow and Denver to lose more than they win better not hold their breath. Tebow has heart, desire and the will to win, which comes in very handy in sports. Much more talented athletes than Tebow DO NOT possess these attributes. Example = Jake Plummer and too many others to name.

    Ball control and a good defense wins in the NFL more than it loses. Von Miller and Elvis Dumervil will crush Tom Brady as they have all other opposing QB’s since Tebow took control. The defense gets rest because of Tebow and the run game. They can do the same to Aaron Rogers as well since Rogers has to go against Miller and Dumervil, not Tebow.

    Tebow’s faith is a huge part of his success. His belief and mine as well in Jesus Christ as Savior can get you through much adversity. When all those around you say you can’t will have a negative impact on many who will just quit. His belief in Jesus tells him he can so he keeps going and succeeds.

    I can’t stand the Broncos, but I love Tebow and Von Miller. But I do hope Denver wins the Superbowl so all those self-appointed experts who hate Tebow can cry in their beer until next season.

  21. phelps says:

    I’ve got to address the “not an NFL QB”. Is Denver a college team who gets to play against the NFL teams sunday? Not every QB has the skills of A. Rogers, etc. and if those guys are so easy to find, then would you please tell the Chiefs where to find one.

    Also, many young athletes love Tebow because some idiot coach, or self-appointed expert has told them they “can’t” and they have never gotten a chance to prove they “can” in their sport of choice. Here is a guy in the national spotlight that these same folks say “can’t”, but he got his chance and is showing he “can”.

    Lesson here. Think for yourself and don’t follow someone elses advice.

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