By Jeff Girod
Tim Tebow has been te-bounced from the NFL playoffs, after the Denver Broncos were boat raced, 45-10, by the New England Patriots last Saturday.
The primetime game drew record TV ratings, with as many people cheering for Tebow as were rooting that a lightning bolt would smite him with a fiery case of turf toe.
Tebow has stared down a blitz of criticism all season. ESPN NFL analyst Merril Hoge said on Twitter that “it’s embarrassing to think the Broncos could win with Tebow.”
“He can’t play,” said Boomer Esiason, NFL analyst and former NFL quarterback. “What (former Broncos coach) Josh McDaniel saw in him God only knows. Maybe God does know—because the rest of us don’t.”
And ESPN columnist Rick Reilly said Tebow “might never be ready. Somebody alert the Filipino missionaries. If he doesn’t improve, he might be among them sooner than we thought.”
Harsh—since all Tebow has done is win. Tebow was a third-stringer who clawed his way up passed two cardboard cutouts to become a starting quarterback. He proceeded to win six games in a row and pull off a slew of miraculous comebacks that would’ve made Rocky Balboa yell “Yo, Adrian!”
So what if Tebow tosses spirals with all the grace of a sopping wet loaf of Wonder Bread? Winning is winning, and before you could say, “Elway,” the Denver Broncos were back in the playoffs for the first time since orange jerseys looked cool on anyone besides Aquaman.
Still, Tebow couldn’t convince everybody. Tim Dahlberg, sports columnist for The Associated Press, wrote that Tebow “may be the worst quarterback in the NFL.” Dahlberg wrote that the day before Tebow threw an overtime 80-yard pass for Denver’s first playoff win since 2005. And if Tebow is the worst quarterback in the NFL, maybe Dahlberg should tell it to the 20 teams who didn’t make the playoffs.
CBS Sports analyst Randy Cross said Tebow gets unfairly criticized because of his Christian faith.
“People, especially the media, root against him because of what he stands for,” Cross told USA Today. “My personal belief is there are people in the media, people in the stands, who are predisposed to see a guy like that fail . . . Just because he’s so public about the way he feels.”
You don’t agree with Christianity? Fine. How about hard work and success? Granted, Tebow thanks his personal Lord and Savior before, during and pretty much after every snap. But it’s better than thanking his agent or promoting an energy drink or rap album.
Everybody should believe in something. I believe in UFOs and a second shooter on the grassy knoll. And, sure, maybe Tebow gets lucky—or is it divine intervention?—but he’s also a team player who puts in his time on the practice field. And what’s not to like about that?
You want to make fun of Tebow’s “Dudley Do-Right” persona? Go ahead. He’s more vanilla than a wafer. But when did it become OK to make fun of someone’s religion? Mocking Tebow for believing in God is no better than racism or homophobia. And it seems like everyone thinks they get a free pass because Tebow is a young, rich, straight, white male.
Here’s the thing: You don’t get a pass. It’s still wrong to make fun of Tebow’s faith. And you’re a narrow-minded, judgmental, egocentric jerk if you mock Tebow just because he believes in God and you don’t.
If Tebow was Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu, Wiccan, gay or handicapped—spin the wheel, pick a minority or protected group—would everyone feel so giddy making wisecracks about his values?
We’re a world thirsting for underdogs. We invent them, immortalize them and pay to see them in movies. Then a real-life underdog like Tebow comes along and we can’t wait to shred him.
“He can’t throw. He’s not smart enough. He’s not a long-term solution at quarterback.” These aren’t just quotes from media or fans. They’re sound bytes from his own head coach and team president.
I used to hate Tebow. I despised him when he was in college because he had the hot girlfriend, he was a two-time national champion and a Heisman Trophy winner.
Now? I love Tim Tebow because you love to hate him.
Contact Jeff Girod at firstname.lastname@example.org.