Tebow-mania: Why We Should Pray For Tim Tebow
I must start this post off by admitting that even though I am from Oklahoma and I am a male, I am not a huge football fan. To me, football is something I watch on Sundays as the first step in the process of taking my Sunday nap. Sure, I will will occasionally be interested in a game, cheer on my favorite universities, but other than that, I really don’t care much for it. I like hockey, soccer, and basketball quite a bit more. But I also do keep an eye out on football, and I usually have a general idea of the big picture of the season; like when the Cowboys aren’t having a good season, and some random rookie quarterback is torching some old pros. I’ll know the teams in the Super Bowl when they get there, but I can’t exactly remember who wins a couple of weeks after the big game.
But every once in a while, a figure comes along that you just have to pay attention to. Now, I actually hate it when the sports media falls in love with a player because of a couple of good games. I actually hate watching ESPN a lot because they are so wishy-washy. For example, is Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook yell at one another during a game, they automatically jump to the extreme and say that Westbrook needs to be traded. Tiger Woods loses a bunch of golf tournaments and they automatically jump to the extreme that he will never win again, despite being one of the greatest golfers ever. In the same way, when a player or team does something well once or twice, the talking heads on TV take to the extreme and adorn the player or team with verbal crowns and fine jewels, praising him to be the next big thing. Take Michael Vick in the 2010-2011 season, the guy was untouchable. Everyone doubted that he would ever play again, much less play at a high level, much less lead a team into the playoffs. But then this last season happened. Vick was riddled with injury and the team failed to make the playoffs despite everyone picking them to be serious Super Bowl contenders. Every one was in love with Michael Vick last season, but this year, everyone hated him. ESPN was talking about how the Eagles need to trade him away even though they just signed him to a huge contract after his one great year.
Enter Tim Tebow.
Fresh out of the University of Florida, where he won a National Championship and a Heisman Trophy, Tebow was drafted by the Broncos, confusingly early a couple years ago in the draft. At Florida, Tebow kind of built up a reputation for being a solid Christian goody guy. I remember he wore those little eye-black stickers with scripture written on them in silver Sharpie. He would pray on the sidelines. He thanked God anytime the media interviewed him, which isn’t all that uncommon, but it just seemed different from Tebow. For the most part, Tebow really isn’t that great of a player, he does a lot of things decently well, but apparently when you scout NFL talent, you look for a lot of things that Tim Tebow doesn’t have. I’m not a scout, nor do I know much about football at all, but Tebow is a very flawed player. His throwing style is junky, he makes weird decisions that often work but are extremely unconventional.
This year, the Broncos started sucking right out of the gate, they lost a few games and someone made the decision that Tim Tebow should start playing. He had been sitting the bench for the most part up until this point. Once Tebow became the starting quarterback, the strangest thing happened…the Broncos started winning. Even though Tebow may not have been technically winning all of the games for the Broncos, on more than one occasion the ball was in his hands at the end of the game and he made the plays that made Denver win. There were so many close games, and just when you think the Broncos couldn’t possibly win, they would. I even watched a game where the announcer said late in the game that it was over, that there was no chance for the Broncos to win this game, but somehow they forced overtime and won. Yesterday, immediately after Tebow and the Broncos beat the Steelers in the playoffs in overtime, Tebow broke Twitter records being tweeted about over 9,000 times per second worldwide. More than when bin Laden was killed, more that when Michael Jackson died, more than the royal wedding, more than anything…ever.
Tim Tebow quickly became the subject on every segment of ESPN Sportcenter; you couldn’t turn on a TV or sports radio show without hearing about him. The weird thing was, after they criticized his playing ability, they often referred to God and Tebow’s spirituality. I’ve been known to make a Tebow joke a time or two in regards to his spirituality, and so has the media, but Tebow just kept winning games and people keep talking about his Christian faith more and more, even though it is relevant to the games. Even though Tebow might not have been the deciding factor in the game, people would be seriously questioning if Tebow winning was a result of his faith.
We see Tebow on the sideline down on one knee praying, and it sort of gets made into a joke, which I think is totally fine, even as a Christian. I think its funny that people take pictures of themselves on one knee and call it “Tebowing”. But as a Christian, and with Tim Tebow being, in all seriousness, the face of American Christianity right now (second to Jesus himself maybe), how do I really feel? Because…we’ve had these poster boys before, right? Remember Ted Haggard a few years ago? Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker and the PTL scandal in the 80’s and 90’s? Wasn’t Mel Gibson the perfect Christian years ago after making the Passion of the Christ movie? What happened there? The sad thing is, I can keep going. So when I see Tim Tebow supporting the weight of an entire religion on his shoulder pads, please forgive me but it scares me. Because I’ve been here before…and as a sports fan…I’ve totally bought in to Tebowmania.
I don’t expect Tebow to be perfect, on or off the field, but the media does. If one trivial thing came out about Tebow tomorrow, not only does Tebow get ridiculed, we Christians do too. But with more and more people talking about faith in areas where faith is seldom mentioned, how do we feel about this? How do we feel that a Christian football player might actually be called a Christian football player and not a football player who happens to be a Christian? I think Tebow would admit that the most important thing to him is his relationship with Jesus and that football is second. It saddens me to say, but there are a small percentage of people hoping that Tebow has some skeletons in his closet. People had the pretty boy perfectionist, and Tebow is sort of that guy, and that guy worships the same God I do.
So it weirds me out to say this…but…maybe we should be praying for Tim Tebow. The man is on every television right now, giving it up to God and Jesus, and instead of waiting around for some weird truth to come out, like some Dallas Cowboy cheerleader he knocked up or him sending some pictures of his junk to some female reporter, why shouldn’t we pray for him? Imagine your life under a microscope. Not just your job, but your personal life as well. What Tebow is doing right now transcends a game and gets people talking.
So no matter who you root for, which team is your favorite, and even if you hate Tim Tebow as a player, that guy is really being an instrument of the Lord right now, and so far he is doing awesome. He says the right things and he appears to be walking the walk, but that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t support him in prayer. You don’t have to go out and buy a Tebow jersey; you don’t have to go out and declare that Tebow is anointed by God to beat the Patriots next weeks; you don’t have to read too much into the fact that Tebow threw 316 yards in his first playoff game yesterday (as in John 3:16); but you should, just maybe, keep him in your prayers. He is showing God to the world and we should support that and support him.
And if you want to be Tebowing while praying for Tebow…I’m sure that would be fine too.