That seems to be the question.
First a disclaimer: I am not a huge fan of football. I am a baseball gal. But I like sports in general, so I keep up with college football most years and when players make a big enough splash, I’ll track with them into the NFL to see how they do. Tim Tebow is one of those guys.
He played for the (evil) Gators, which is reason enough for our household not to be in his camp. He also never struck me as a great quarterback- a good athlete with above average leadership skills, sure. And because UF tends to recruit well, he had a decent team around him. I figured he’d be tested pretty intensely when he faced the big dogs on Sundays.
I haven’t really followed the Broncos much since when Gary Kubiak was their #2 quarterback. He was an Aggie (I actually met him while he was playing for Texas A&M), a good if not great/flashy quarterback and a really solid guy. A lot like Tebow, in fact. I suspected that Tim would find himself on same path, playing back up – at least for a couple of years while he matured into the pro system. I can’t tell you why Tebow ended up getting as much game time as he has this year. I still think he’s got a lot of work and maturing to do if he wants to succeed long-term as a starter in the NFL.
But by mid-season, and especially headed into the playoffs, even we casual NFL viewers found ourselves surrounded by media hype and full-on Evangelical hoopla.
Let me state for the record that I’m fine with a guy willing to and even wanting live his faith full time out in the open in a career that is not generally considered a ministry. His integrity and faith were part of why I was a Roger Staubach fan back in the pre-thug Dallas Cowboy days of my youth. But he was also a damn good quarterback. I enjoyed watching the David Robinson play basketball for the Spurs. And Nolan Ryan pitch for the Rangers. And Cal Ripken, Jr. play game after game for the Orioles. These were athletes who (Christian or not) brought character to the forefront of their persona. Contrast that with players who shrug off sexual assault, rape, excessive drug use, cheating…
I just can’t demonize a player for excelling in his sport and giving thanks to God for those skills. And for asking God to keep him safe and give him strength, focus, and patience in the midst of a high-pressure game. I mean, how do we preach to folks in the pews about vocation and the Priesthood of All Believers and trusting God with every aspect of our lives and livelihoods – and then not support a young man attempting to live that out? Where then is my integrity?
Now – where I can’t go – every Christian must be fans of Tebow and pull for (or even pray for) Denver to win the SuperBowl because he is willing to be vocal about his faith. The kid has a platform. He’s going to use it win or lose.
Here’s what I hope- that Mr. Tebow has a good off-season someplace out of the limelight. I hope he is able to spend time with his family and pursue some of his passions in the mission field. I hope he stays strong in the face of the many temptations he is bound to face. In a world where athletes are caught doping, cheating, and in the center of sex scandals, we could do with a few good guys who stay good.
While I’m at it, I hope he listens to some of his more progressive fans and colleagues who are asking him to think about what it means to be so closely linked with organizations that support only certain kinds of families and harmful information that leads to the bullying of LGBTQ young people.
Good luck, Tim. And God speed.