My love for Tim Tebow doesn’t make any sense. I don’t usually care for players whose success is credited to intangible skills; things like grit, toughness, or ability in the clutch. If a player is great, numbers should be able to prove it. I believe players should be brutally efficient when they are out on the field, yet here I am falling for Mr. Intangible, a player way different than the typical NFL quarterback, and a player who silences his critics by saying, “5-1.”
5-1, the Broncos record since Tim Tebow took over as the Denver Broncos starting quarterback, replacing the much more conventional Kyle Orton in the process. 5-1, as Tebow completed two passes against the Kansas City Chiefs and, somehow, the Broncos won the game. How does this quarterback who seemingly can’t throw the ball keep on winning week after week?
Sure there are those who criticize Tim Tebow solely because he doesn’t fit the mold of what a quarterback should look like, and attribute his success to luck. But the larger controversy surrounding Tim Tebow—and another reason why I love him—is who he is as a person.
Tebow grew up homeschooled in a very religious Christian family. His mother, despite her doctor’s warning that carrying Tebow to full term would harm her health, chose not to get an abortion. Tebow carried his Christian values to the University of Florida, wearing eye black adorned with biblical verses, proclaiming his chastity until marriage, and appearing in a pro-life Super Bowl advertisement. Furthermore, Tebow spends his summers doing missionary work with his family in the Philippines, helping countless people in the process. Tebow also shows exceptional character on the field, winning the loyalty and respect of his team-mates, asking for the ball in pressure-packed situations, and showcasing an ability to take any amount of punishment to gain that extra yard. And as if that wasn’t enough, in all of his interviews, Tebow comes off as a genuinely good and kind person, exhibiting grace in the face of those who mock him for his beliefs and abilities.
Yet these good deeds are exactly the things that have caused the most ire against him. His Christian values and prayer during games cause many to accuse him of being a religious nut, and some claim that he plays up his religious beliefs for media attention. The now widely derided act of ‘Tebowing,’ where one mimics Tebow getting down on one knee to pray, closed fist to forehead, has replaced planking as the newest fad. Coupled with his unusual quarterback play, the critics have an easy time declaring that Tim Tebow just plain sucks.
But Tebow is exactly the type of role model kids need. He’s a professional athlete who actually has ideals, and seemingly lives up to them. In a day and age where so many of the most popular athletes are insufferable (LeBron James), felons (Michael Vick), whiners (Sidney Crosby), and efficient winning machines (Roy Halladay), why not cheer for the enthusiastic, good Christian boy from Jacksonville? It seems so bizarre that we should hate on Tim Tebow for being a moral person. In past decades, do-gooders such as Dikembe Mutombo, Manute Bol, and Reggie White were praised for their charity work and piety. But maybe Tebow’s goodness intimidates his critics. Maybe since they usually feel so morally superior to troubled athletes, when one comes along challenging us to be better people, they instinctively feel anger towards them.
So to the critics, keep on hating Tim Tebow. He will continue to play hard, play with enthusiasm, play for the sake of his God, play for the sake of inspiring people with his athletic ability. And most importantly, he will keep on ruthlessly playing to win, and I suspect that he will continue to do so.