Tim Tebow presents fresh outlook on life
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The game was on the line. Regulation time had expired with the score tied. The Denver Broncos and Pittsburgh Steelers were playing their hearts out as the referee tossed a coin at midfield to see who would get the ball first in overtime.
On the sideline, a lone figure in the No. 15 Broncos jersey knelt, head down and hand on his face, apparently in prayer.
Yeah, Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow was about to create another storm of controversy, another verbal fencing match between the liberals who hate him and the conservative Christians who think he's just wonderful, thank you.
Throughout a high school career that made him an All-American, a college career that brought him the Heisman Trophy as he led the University of Florida to two national championships, and a still-young pro career, Tebow has been very open about his belief in Jesus Christ as his Lord and savior.
But when the Colorado-based Focus on the Family religious foundation used him in an ad about family during the 2011 Super Bowl, the murmurs of earlier life became a cacophony of voices, all anxious for the world to hear their opinions.
Despite all the distractions, Tebow did OK during the Broncos just-finished regular season, and when he took the field in overtime against the Steelers, his first play was an 80-yard pass and run that beat Pittsburgh.
But then, the following weekend, Denver was kicked all over the field by the New England Patriots, and returned home as also-rans.
Well, out came the enlightened voices of Tebow's critics again, one writer saying she was "surprised" at the religious nature of a Tebow-inspired ad that ran during the Patriots game. ".I don't think the middle of a playoff football game is the place to start advertising religion of any kind," she proclaimed, while insisting that she was in fact a Christian herself, and the daughter of a preacher.
The commercial was a few kids reciting a famous quote from the Gospel of John 3:16. It was known to be Tebow's favorite Bible verse: "For God so loved the world he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life."
Focus on the Family is a "hate group," according to one YouTube deep thinker who spewed his own anti-American and anti-Christian venom while finger-pointing at Tebow.
Here's the deal as I see it: Tebow loves that Bible verse because it sums up all that he believes. I see no hate in that verse, and I don't see it in the group that sponsored it.
Even the worst of us, and I count myself in that lowly group, might even find some hope in that message.
I don't claim to know, but I think Tim Tebow believes what he says about being a Christian. The only "hate" I've seen has come from those who say his "piety" has no place on the gridiron.
Truth is, it's been there for a long time, as players have pointed to the heavens when scoring a touchdown, or kneeling to give thanks in the end zone. Who knows? Maybe they were sincere, too.
But in an age when linebackers and defensive backs go "head hunting" for opponents to deliberately try to injure them, when a player stomps on and kicks another player while he's on the ground, when players taunt their opponents when they best them and flaunt their accomplishments to the nearest camera, well, maybe Tim Tebow's praying is a refreshing change.
Jim Bishop resides in Victoria and was executive editor at the Victoria Advocate before he retired.