This weekend marks the beginning of the NFL playoffs. My beloved Seattle Seahawks and other NFC West teams were trampled by the San Francisco 49ers in the 2011 regular season, which means if I’m going to stay engaged in the remainder of the NFL season, that I must pick another pony. I’m also a fan of the Green Bay Packers. I’m not sure why. Probably mostly from the years of watching Brett Favre just have fun playing football. I think I also have a sort of admiration for the Packer fans. You see those nutbars that make up the Packer faithful, sitting out there in the stands in the middle of winter freezing their butts off. That’s dedication to the team. We should all have that kind of commitment to something. Same goes for Chicago fans. I think in the NFC, the Packers are always the team I’d rather see make the Super Bowl if it can’t be the Seahawks. I suppose the 49ers would make a viable alternate, as any year an NFC West team can make it into the Super Bowl, it forces the the naysayers to shut up about the NFC “Worst”. I wouldn’t mind seeing Detroit make a run either. I think that area of the country has been beat down the last few years and they could use the pick-me-up. In any case, there are a few NFC teams I can get behind.
This brings us to the AFC. There are a lot of teams I don’t like in the AFC. Don’t really care for the Patriots and Tom Brady. I think that guy has a some kind of Messiah complex. It might not even be him. It may just be the way the commentators talk about him. We know he wins game, but a quarterback alone doesn’t win games so try giving some of the rest of his team some credit. I don’t care for the Ravens or the Texans much. Mostly just indifference. I used to like the Bengals until they got so messy with drama with Chad “Ochocinco” Johnson and the Carson Palmer fiasco. It looks like they’ll fall to the Texans at the time of this writing anyway. All of those options would be better than the one team I know I can’t stand…the Pittsburgh Steelers.
As a Seahawks fan, the Steelers will be forever infamous as the team that was handed Super Bowl XL by the officials. Hmm, so let’s see who that matchup is against. Turns out it is none other than Denver Broncos. This is the first matchup I’m highly looking forward to this post-season. Even if you’re not a football fan, unless you’ve been hiding out in a cave recently, you know Tim Tebow is the quarterback of the Denver Broncos who wears his faith on his sleeve. He’s the guy people love, or people love to hate. He’s always demonstrative by kneeling and thanking his God (known now as “tebowing”) any time he’s thankful, wearing scripture under his eyes, always vocal about where he gets his motivation to be a leader, and never apologetic about any of it. You get what you get.
The problem is, commentators, fans, and even other players can’t stand the attention Tebow gets. Simply put, they think it is interfering with their football games. Not only that but where other players are concerned, the problem they have is that Tebow is taking their air time with all of the debate. Tim Tebow is cramping their style. They complain he gets too much attention when there are other football matters to be talked about, namely themselves. They resent him for getting attention he neither asked for, nor necessarily wants. “Once again God had to save Tim Tebow and the Broncos,” quipped Terrell Suggs of the Baltimore Ravens after the Broncos lost their way into the playoffs. Chad Henne of the Miami Dolphins said of Tim Tebow, “My judgment is that he’s not an NFL quarterback. I’ll leave it at that.”
Now, let’s be clear Tim Tebow isn’t the most impressive football player in the NFL when it comes to football skills. Further, if you ask me, God likely has no interest in football games. It’s a silly game of back and forth. I think He’s got more important things to deal with. Who knows though, maybe a game or two could fall into His master plan. I’m not smart enough to know that. However, I think people are missing the point. I don’t think Tebow is trying to get God to help him win games, and I’ve never seen him say that God has helped him win a game. All I’ve seen him say is that he is, “thankful to his Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” I would be too. How could a guy with his worldview not consider himself blessed to be able to play a game for a living! Why shouldn’t he be repeatedly thankful if he thinks his God enabled him to be where he is by endowing him with certain abilities?
Further, this is a guy who by all accounts, is very responsible with the resources given to him, and seems to enjoy doing good. Upon his signing, Tebow burned through his signing bonus by dropping $2.5 million dollars in 24 hours, giving it all away to charities focusing on famine, education, and providing housing. Critics like to say he is just as irresponsible as other young players who squander their money, and just as bad a financial role model for doing so. The only difference is he didn’t spend the money on himself! Sure it is a lot of money to jettison in a short amount of time, but there is a big difference between using it to change the world, and using it to acquire cars, women, and bling! Naysayers who admonish Tim Tebow in regard to this kind of selfless behavior, are clearly materialists who believe creature comforts are the best use of money. I don’t think that’s the way the young Broncos QB thinks though. My guess would be that Tim Tebow doesn’t require the money for his happiness, and if his NFL career ends tomorrow, he’ll carry on doing what good he can in some other way just like he did before the NFL.
I think maybe this is what drives the commentators and naysayers crazy. No matter what they say about him, Tebow has responded with nothing but kindness and dignity. He’s a whipping boy that couldn’t care less about the barbs, imitations, and name calling. He’s just thankful to be playing football. This is in stark contrast to what you see from most NFL players that get the press. Sunday after Sunday I cringe when I see NFL players celebrating themselves after big plays. They flex their biceps, point to their own numbers, and taunt the opposition. Let’s be real. Demonstrative players are all over the NFL, but instead of demonstrating a humbling of themselves, they demonstrate their conceited self-promotion and all the glory they believe they deserve. Tebow is a frequent target of this taunting and glory-hounding, and he never repsonds. I think it is admirable. Regardless of what you believe, I think this is the example of sportsmanship I think our kids deserve. Playing your hardest with whatever skills you’ve got, showing genuine concern for people on both sides of the ball, ignoring the naysayers, and having fun!
So, when I said I’d have to pick a new pony, this Sunday it will be the most literal pony possible in the NFL, in the form of the Denver Broncos. The commentators will probably frame it as a matchup of good (Tim Tebow and God) vs evil (Ben Rothlisberger and his drunken womanizing), but it’s really just football. I think columnist Bill Livingston put it well when he described the biggest problem with the Tim Tebow debate. He wrote, “…a problem also arises in the excessive zeal with which fundamentalists view Tebow. He has become a transcendent figure to them, God’s Quarterback.” God doesn’t have a quarterback. I think Tim Tebow knows that. This being the case, it is highly likely that the Broncos will fall to the Steelers tomorrow. If this happens, a barage of media and comments will follow, attributing the loss to a God that didn’t care about Tim Tebow or the Denver Broncos. Do you think Tebow will feel like God let him down and he just didn’t have enough faith? I don’t. I think he’s just genuinely thankful to have the opportunity, and will express that, and only that; the same way he’s done all along.
Tomorrow I expect Tim Tebow will do his best, be himself, ignore the taunting, and display nothing but the finest example of sportsmanship. He’ll likely do it all the way to a Denver Broncos loss, at which time I’ll have to pick another pony. I’ll pick any pony other than the Steelers! Until then, in the words of Tim Tebow… GB² (God Bless, Go Broncos)!