In Defense of Tim Tebow

I’ve been thinking for a while now about the Tim Tebow phenomenon.

I’m not talking about how the 2007 Heisman winner is somehow managing to win NFL games despite having a throwing motion that makes the purists cringe.

No, the football aspect of what he is doing doesn’t surprise me at all. I’ve been a long-time advocate of blowing up the old quarterback archetype that’s been central to the sport for the past 50 years. Tebow represents the natural evolution of the position and his recent success is a punch to the NFL establishment’s solar plexus.

Oh, I admit it gives me immense satisfaction to see so many former players and coaches turned-analyst struggling to figure out why Tebow is winning. It’s like their heads are about to explode. The rest of the media is equally perplexed since it tends to dutifully accept almost everything the NFL tells it as it relates to X’s and O’s.

Whatever. The Tebow on-the-field stuff will eventually sort itself out and the league will continue its offensive evolution. The NFL will probably never be the same. It’s a good subject for further discussion on another day.

But what’s really stirring me up is how so many people actually hate this guy. They hate him for reasons that strike me as absurd. Let’s see. They hate him because he doesn’t play the way they’ve been told a quarterback should play. They hate him because he has an exotic throwing motion (or so they’ve been told) and he sometimes gains more yards on the ground than through the air (how dare he!).

But those are just side issues. What really stirs up the hate for Tebow is that he is [shudder] a Christian who actually dares to advertise as such.

Type in “hate” and “Tim Tebow” in Google and you get stories about how he is a polarizing figure because of his faith. Radio hosts are telling him to STFU about God. You’ll see Facebook groups devoted to hating him. And the usual snarky types who hate him mainly because the media won’t stop talking about him.

Most of this is, of course, completely disingenuous. Tebow is not the first, nor will he be the last, professional athlete to thank Jesus Christ during an interview. He’s not the first athlete to take a knee and pray. But he’s suddenly a target for ridicule, as if he invented it. All this stuff isn’t even new to Tebow who, if my memory serves me correctly, was an outspoken Christian when he was winning the Heisman Trophy and two national championships at Florida. So why all the fuss and furor now over him spouting his religious views?

I enjoy watching Tebow play. He’s a bonafide star, a Ruthian figure in football. Always has been. He was the first sophomore to win the Heisman. That tells us a lot about the impact he had in college. I have no idea what kind of person he really is off the field and I don’t care. I’m on the record as saying that no player or coach should be idolized off the field. I don’t support any misguided individual out there who somehow thinks Tebow is a good person just because he professes his faith. We’ve all been down that road too many times before, I think, to fall into that trap again.

But, all that said, who gives a rat’s ass if the man wants to thank Jesus before an interview? Are we that screwed up about religion that we have to get offended by this, too? Must we mock a guy because he sincerely loves his faith and wants to share it? Have we lost all sense of perspective on what is actually worthy of hate? The sports world has plenty to offer in that respect.

We’ve got Jerry Sandusky allegedly raping little boys in the shower. We’ve got Ray Lewis still starring in the NFL and he might’ve (allegedly) killed a guy a few years back. We’ve got Michael Vick back playing again after torturing dogs. We’ve got professional athletes of all stripes (and too numerous to name) living lifestyles that would make their mothers cringe–and making no bones about it. Can we get through a year without some kind of sex/rape/gun/drug scandal in sports? Good luck with that. In the NFL itself we see varying levels of buffoonery on display after every touchdown, sack, first down and routine play. There’s barely a peep about all this stuff most days.

But Tebow thanks Jesus and we are repelled? For this we should hate him? Seriously? Get out of here.

It’s really not a big deal. Or it shouldn’t be. Most Americans are comfortable with a certain level of bland religiosity in public life. Last I checked, people still celebrate the holidays in one way or another. Maybe Tebow upsets that apple cart a bit when he professes his faith so starkly, but those who strive to call him a polarizing figure are guilty of caricaturing his beliefs to serve that end. It’s so easy to rip on the holier-than-thou goody-two-shoes, even if we’ve never actually heard him claim to be better than anyone else or to live anything other than a normal life. Doesn’t matter. Don’t you know he’s probably a hypocrite, stupid? And for some in the media who have been trained to view Christians of the born-again variety as bumpkins, Tebow’s fervor is downright scary. He might as well be a Scientologist, though Tom Cruise, before he freaked out on Oprah, was treated with less disdain. It’s a shame.

I’ve got a few personal requests of the Supreme Being in 2012. For starters, I’d like to see the Kardashians move to North Korea. All of them. Throw in Bruce Jenner, too.

But I’d settle for society getting a little more perspective on things like this.

There are plenty of figures in sports and society worthy of our hate.

Tebow isn’t one of them.

About Heismanpundit

Chris Huston, A.K.A. ‘The Heisman Pundit‘, is a Heisman voter and the creator and publisher of Heismanpundit.com, a site dedicated to analysis of the Heisman Trophy and college football. Dubbed “the foremost authority on the Heisman” by Sports Illustrated, HP is regularly quoted or cited during football season in newspapers across the country. He is also a regular contributor on sports talk radio and television.

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14 Responses to In Defense of Tim Tebow

  1. Cecil December 21, 2011 at 6:12 am #

    Great article and I applaud you for writing it! I think you are dead on about Tebow revolutionizing the QB position in the NFL AND how he is being crucified for his religion. It must have something to do with all three things.. being different as a player which generates cynicism about him being some kind of hype creation. Then his immense popularity and his being so forward about religion. One thing unique about Tebow is when he thanks god he doesn’t say it like the words have no meaning like many things we say.. like “bless you” when someone sneezes.. Tebow says it with heart and emphasis… which is strange to people I guess.

    One thing you got wrong big time though and I would like to see a retraction to is when you said Colt McCoy and Sam Bradford were the real story in college football. Tebow should have been higher ranked than them all through college. They could not do what he did in the SEC. I think that is being proven in the NFL. Sorry to act like I am saying I told you so but it shows that Tebow was vastly underrated even in college. His team got all the credit for his accomplishments. So did Urban Meyer

  2. Tjarks December 21, 2011 at 11:16 am #

    As the child of a Filipino immigrant, when I first heard that Tebow’s family was doing Christian missionary work in the Philippines, I was fairly surprised. The Philippines has a lot of problems but a lack of Christianity isn’t one of them.

    We were a Spanish colony for over 400 years, and we’re still one of the most Catholic countries in the world to this day. We’re a much more Christian country than the US. Period.

    Yet, after the Spanish/American War, President McKinley declared that it was the American duty to “Christianize” the country, as if that was the reason, and not America wanting to join the “great game” and set up a military sphere of influence in the Pacific Ocean, that there would need to be a brutal ten-year guerilla war to subjugate the country.

    Tebow represents an outdated White Man’s Burden mentality view of the world where Americans are “seflessly” going overseas to help out some poor third-world countries, as if the US isn’t slowly becoming more like the Philippines everyday. If you want to know why there is such a strong undercurrent of resentment for the man, you can start there.

  3. HP December 21, 2011 at 12:03 pm #

    Eh, that’s pretty silly. Tebow did and is doing good work in the Phillipines, including helping to fund the opening of a hospital recently. No one is mad at him for that and I doubt he saw what he was doing as some kind of vestige of the White Man’s Burden. Most likely, he just wanted to spread his form of Christianity to that part of the world (where he was born). I don’t espouse his form of Christianity, but it’s his right to try to spread it.

    • Tjarks December 21, 2011 at 12:23 pm #

      I agree that it’s his right to spread his form of Christianity to other parts of the world, but that also makes it other people’s right to resent his attempt to impose his culture on people who don’t need it when there’s so much charity he could do at home.

      • HP December 21, 2011 at 5:50 pm #

        How is Tebow imposing his culture by trying to convert people to his form of Christianity? Who are you to say that they don’t need what he is offering, which often includes lots of charitable acts? I think you have to try really hard to be offended by Tebow.

      • RSC December 21, 2011 at 6:45 pm #

        I do not think that either Tebow or his missionary parents had anything to do with Empire building in the Philippines. Furthermore, I would imagine that there are many Filipinos and other people groups that are very grateful for a man that raises support and spends his own hard earned money to help them and their children with their physical needs and at the same time teaching them the Scriptures. While he could certainly use his foundation to help people here, which of course he does, there are gillions of foundations and charities and churches in this country that help people with all kind of needs. Your anti “white man” political philosophy is greatly misplaced here as that creature is the most hunted/hated creature in the West–and more for his Christian heritage than his Empire building. You should study past and present history a little more closely to better understand more who and what is really behind Empire building in our times.

      • sj December 22, 2011 at 3:12 pm #

        Also, since he was born in the Philippines his heart is there too. So I can see why he wants to do charitable work there.

        I was was also born in another country and even though I moved to the States very young, I still have a love for the country I was born in.

        I’m sure the parents and kids who benefit from the charitable works that he and his family does are appreciated deeply.

  4. how about this December 21, 2011 at 12:16 pm #

    Tebow did a Super Bowl commercial for an anti-abortion group that has also thrown tons of money and ensuring separate rights for the LGBT community. Are THOSE people allowed to hate Tebow for that? What about people who are pro-choice? Or those people that think a same-sex couple should be allowed to marry?

    Just because Sandusky is a horrible person doesn’t make me like Tebow because he’s not as bad.

    WHY DO PEOPLE FEEL THE NEED TO TELL ME WHY I SHOULD LIKE SOMEONE WHO IS FUNDAMENTALLY A BIGOT?

    • HP December 21, 2011 at 5:53 pm #

      No one is forcing you to like Tebow or support his political causes, and of course people are ‘allowed’ to hate him. But to me it’s quite a stretch to hate him because of how he professes his faith. It’s just a different form of bigotry.

      You really think he’s a bigot because he did a commercial for an anti-abortion group? That’s quite a stretch.

    • RSC December 21, 2011 at 6:58 pm #

      I do not think that Tebow is either a narrow-minded or superstitious type but would imagine that he supports the Scriptures in general and the Ten Commandments in particular. As a result it would seem that he would be against murder of any type (six commandment) and sexual immorality (seventh commandment). It is likely that most states and cities have forms of these commandments as laws in their legal documents though they are very seldomly enforced today. Tebow’s views then would fit into the normally accepted Western historical views not the modern humanistic rejection of these philosophical/legal/religious views. It seems to me then that your position is more bigoted and unfounded than Tebows. And of course no one on God’s green earth is requesting that you like Tebow or normal historical thought and belief.

  5. gobroncos December 22, 2011 at 8:36 am #

    I agree that Tebow is not deserving of the vitriol spewed his way on a daily basis all over the Internet, radio, etc. The main reason for this, as I see it, is that his acts of prayer and thanksgiving toward Jesus Christ make others feel uncomfortable because they are right and good. As opposed to making a spectacle of himself gyrating around like many NFL players and taking all the credit, he gives thanks to God for the opportunity to play and influence others. As humans, it feels better to see someone make an idiot of themselves on national TV than for someone to remind us that there is a higher power worthy of praise. Whether you’re a believer or not, it’s often more fun to see someone doing the WRONG thing and making fun of them than seeing them do the RIGHT thing and remind us that we all fall short. Hence the fact that “goody-goods” are often the most ridiculed from kindergartern on up!

    Tebow is a leader, plain and simple. Whether we admire the way he leads or are offended by his Christian faith is a personal issue that has nothing to do with him. The haters need to leave him alone and spend some time looking in the mirror to see why they are so disturbed by a nice guy trying to do some good in the world. He doesn’t represent EVERY Christian, just like Bin Laden didn’t represent every Muslim.

    And one more thing – kids need heroes! I’m so glad my son looks up to guys like Tebow and Brees rather than Vick, Lewis, etc. Positive role models are few and far between these days – let’s respect the ones we do have, not drag them down with hatred and mockery.

  6. AUman76 December 28, 2011 at 10:06 pm #

    how bout this? No matter how many man made laws are passed men smoking each other’s sausage is wrong according to God’s Law and so is women munching on carpet. People hate the thought of or even the idea that they have to answer to a higher power so they like to make their own rules that comform to the way they wanna live life. They create their own new morality these days. It’s funny how the abortionist are usually the same people that are against executing a muderer. Go figure that one? If it turns out that Tebow’s God and Savior Jesus Christ are the truth, then some folks are gonna have a lot of splainin to do come judgement day! How bout that, this? Call me all the names you liberals that want only your voice heard always do. It’s ok cause unlike your side I can take it cause I’m a man and I’m 40 dammit! JMO. Honest folks don’t subscribe to the PC BS created by the media and politicians used to control true freedom of speech. Get this part you ain’t gonna believe it! I don’t hate anyone for who they are but I do disagree with their so called lifestyles but since I do believe in the same God and Savior as does Tebow…….I’ll leave the final judgement of one’s fate in his hands for we all sin or maybe in your eyes we make mistakes. Either way to be forgiven you must first admit you’ve done wrong. Oh well, good luck cause you’re gonna need it if Tebow’s God is watching over us all! No hard feelings can you say the same? If not that’s the difference between Tebow and the people that persecute him. Some people talk the talk he walks the walk and makes a lot of wanna be’s look like the losers they really are!

  7. Chris December 30, 2011 at 10:38 am #

    I don’t hate Tim Tebow.

    But I do find that view points based in religious ideal are generally naive, narrow minded, smug, and circular. And THAT is irritating. Thus listening to Tebow can be irritating.

    Which is why we like to see him get pounded by three or four 265 lb defenders.
    But Tebow escapes from the jaws of death and burns the defense for 20 yards or so.
    (“Maybe his god is God” …. comment courtesy of Cecil B. DeMil!)

    Tebow leads the team. He gets those around him to perform at their highest levels.

    Tebow WINS GAMES. That is what a QB is supposed to do.
    (“just win baby” …comment courtesy of Coach Al Davis)

    These are why I hate Tim Tebow (but not in the strict meaning of the word)

    As to the extent that he will revolutionize the pro game, that remains to be seen.
    I am skeptical, for many reasons that we can debate more fully at a later time.
    I mean look at HP’s predictions on the Vince Young effect, VY’s career, and the pro QB position.

    • Brent January 3, 2012 at 6:41 pm #

      What “view points based on a religious ideal” are you referring to? Tebow almost never talks directly about his faith or his ideals outside of making it clear to everyone with ears and/or eyes that he is a Christian. This is what’s so screwed up about the whole “Tebow Phenomenon.” He thanks Jesus Christ to start an interview just like Jon Jones does after he beats someone’s face in in a UFC fight. He doesn’t have Bible verses tattooed on his body like Jon Jones does. Yes, he wore them on his eye black in college. But you dont hear anything like this about Jones or any of the other thousands, probably millions, of professional athletes who believe Jesus is the Son of God. It just doesn’t make any sense that such a large faction of Americans have decided this kid has somehow made their world a worse place to live and therefore wish “to see him get pounded by three or four 265 lb defenders” every week.

      Leave him be and let him do his job. If he succeeds, great, if he revolutionizes the NFL, great, if he never wins another game, sucks for him and the Broncos. But, why would you let his existence, or success or whatever it is, turn you into such a petty human being that you truly want to see him fail in his profession or his life?

      Chris and all the others like him who hate (in any meaning of the word) any person without any reason…

      It says a lot more about you than it does about Tebow… take a look in the mirror.

      And HP might have whiffed on Vince Young because he assumed an attendee of the University of Texas would be smarter than Bevo… Young, however, is not.