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Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Tebow Time

You may not be a fan of the National Football League (NFL), or even have an interest in ridiculously paid, frequently badly behaved, notoriously spoiled athletes. The names of the various 32 NFL clubs may mean nothing to you. But if you are paying even a modicum of attention to what is happening in the news, you must have heard the name of Tim Tebow and the NFL team he plays for, the Denver Broncos. It is being referred to as “Tebowmania.”

As a collegiate player he was nothing short of inspirational to his teammates at the University of Florida, developing something of a cult following from the fans and sports aficionados alike. He always made winning exciting even though the Gators usually trounced their opponents with ridiculous scoring differentials. People knew the outcome of the game before the kickoff, but that’s not why they came to the game. They came to see Tebow. They referred to him as Superman!

This young man is only two years removed from his very successful college football career where he lead the Florida “Gators” to two national championships, plus he won the coveted Heisman Trophy. Part of his mystic has to do with his very strong Christian faith. He made it a point of wearing his eye black (the black smudge worn by football players on the cheek bone) in a unique way. He would have a Bible verse address stenciled in white which was sure to be picked up by TV cameras. His favorite has been John 3:16; but he also wore Philippians 4:13 for the SEC Title game. (“I can do all things through him [Jesus] who gives me strength.”) He became a media phenom. At the beginning of practically every interview he would begin by saying, “Well, first I want to give all the glory and honor to my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” You see, Tim Tebow was raised by parents who were missionaries, instilling in the young lad the virtues and beliefs of the Christian faith. He is always smiling, obviously enjoying life and having a wonderful time. He is courteous to a fault. He’s even respectful toward those who harshly criticize him, which is a growing number of people, mostly in the sports world. And he deflects credit for his successes back onto his teammates, coaches, and fans. And they love him!

After graduation he was drafted into the NFL by the Denver Broncos where he was expected to be the backup quarterback to Kyle Orton. Tim was thrilled to be in the NFL and was content to play second-fiddle so he could learn the NFL system of playing quarterback which is quite different from that same role in college football.

As life often goes, Orton was injured in the sixth game of the season. Tebow fans made it clear they wanted their man to be the quarterback for the Broncos now! At this point the Broncos had a dismal win-loss record of 1-4. Tebow was given the responsibility of shouldering the team for the remainder of this season. In his very unorthodox style, Tebow has carried the Broncos to an 8-5 record. This means under his leadership on the field the Broncos have won 7 and lost one game. That is an amazing turn-around! But Tebow has created another phenomena – it’s called “Tebow Time.” This is actually a carryover from his college days, but it has been crystalized in the past two months. In his often bumbling attempts at playing quarterback the way the NFL wants him to, he has reverted to the way he played in college which has confused opposing defenses. In virtually every game he figures out some way to win the game, frustrating the opposing team with his heroics and dogged determination. It invariably comes down to the Broncos being behind with only minutes left on the clock. Tebow then leads the team down the field for a touchdown to win, or a field goal to tie and go into overtime. This is nail-biting time. This is Tebow Time! And his fans love it! As many sportscasters admit, “It ain’t pretty, but it’s a win.”

When asked what was most important to him about being an NFL quarterback, he said he’s just playing a game. What is really important to Tebow is the ministry he supports that takes care of orphaned children in the Philippines. You see, during his college days at Spring Break when many of the kids would head for the Caribbean to romp and play, Tim would jump on a plane to the Philippines to spend his two weeks helping disadvantaged kids who knew nothing of his superman status at the University of Florida, nor did they care. All they knew was he was there for them, and most importantly, that he loved them.

Tebow is a threat to many people for several reasons. First, he’s outspoken about his Christian faith. This makes a lot of people uncomfortable. He has been roundly criticized for this. But he always responds with a smile toward his detractors. Second, he’s a winner. He was a winner in high school, then in college and now in the pros. Third, he’s very comfortable and confident in himself. Yes, he is intensely competitive. But he’s enjoying the whole ride that life has offered him. Fourth, it’s difficult for some people to believe someone could be this good, this squeaky clean. They’re hopeful he’ll have some dark side revealed. But Tim knows we’re all sinners in need of God’s grace. That’s why he enjoys life so much because Jesus has saved him from his sin.

There are now three games left in this NFL season and the Broncos are solidly in first place in their division. The way things are going the Broncos will most likely make the playoffs in January. Could they get to the Super Bowl? Tim certainly believes so. Maybe he’ll wear the eye black with Phil 4:13 on that day!

Oh, one last thing. There’s another phenomena surrounding Tebow. Whenever he’s involved in a good play, such as a touchdown, he strikes a pose of prayer by kneeling on one knee, with his left elbow on his knee and his head bowed on his left hand. This is called “Tebowing.” There are people of all ages assuming this pose around the world. On the Internet, this picture of Tebow prayerfully giving thanks to God has gone viral!

You go, man of God!

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