Sunday, December 11, 2011

Criticism of Tim Tebow

No, this is not a post that is dedicated to criticizing Tim Tebow; rather it is a post that is dedicated to the criticism of Tim Tebow.  Tim Tebow: Heisman Trophy winner, National Championship winner (twice), NFL quarterback (7-1 as a starter this season), and outspoken Christian.  All of these descriptions of the Denver Bronco's quarterback have earned him many headlines throughout his football career (including college); however, it is the final description in the list that makes him the target of bad publicity.  The simple fact of the matter is that our society does not want Christians to succeed, and if they do then they better not talk about their faith.  It (Christianity) is politically incorrect and overwhelmingly strict.  In the same way, Christians are close minded and incredibly ignorant.  Seeing a Christian who is proud of their faith succeed the way Tebow does is just as detestable as watching a pedophile walk away, without remorse, from a trial in which he was acquitted by a technicality.  It just makes your stomach turn.

Here are five irrevocable, non-arguable facts: Tim Tebow is a Christian; Tim Tebow does not have the best quarterback mechanics; Tim Tebow has six come from behind victories this year and is 7-1 as a starter in the 2011 season; Tim Tebow gives thanks to God for all of his victories; and, finally, Tim Tebow is trashed in the media for being too vocal about his faith and for not being a good quarterback.

Now here is a subtle, controversial fact that almost every sportswriter who trashes Tebow will never admit to: The reason they hate Tebow so much is because he is not the typical alpha-male athlete.  He does not think of himself first and does not attribute his success to his own hard work.  Instead he attributes all his blessings to his God and publicly thanks Him for his continuous goodness.  Why is this so annoying?  Because he is not supposed to win!  It is true, his quarterback skills are far below average; ever since he was in college experts have said that if he wanted to win in the NFL he would need to alter his mechanics.  His delivery is too slow and his accuracy (or lack there of) makes Aaron Rodgers look like football's version of  Robin Hood.  Despite of all this, though, he keeps on winning!  He won two national titles in college, a Heisman trophy, and is well on his way to leading the Denver Broncos to the playoffs. 

While in college, Tebow was known to accompany his dad on mission trips to the Philippines during his spring break while other people his age either went home or on binge drinking party vacations with their friends.  While some players wrote stats in their eye black before games, Tebow wrote Bible passages (a practice that prompted the NCAA to create a rule banning the writing of anything in players' eye black).  In his final year of college, Tebow created a huge buzz by appearing in a pro-life commercial during the Super Bowl, thanking his mom for choosing not to abort him even though her doctor's advised her to do so.  All these things made news, but until the Super Bowl commercial had ever garnered him any substantial negative publicity.  College football, after all, is a world apart from professional football; quarterbacks like him are made to fail on the big stage and all of this Jesus stuff was supposed to go away.

For a while, it looked like the critics were right.  Even though Denver took him the first round (a move they were highly criticized for), he was the second string quarterback at best.  When he did get the chance to play, he showed the exact inability to play like a typical NFL quarterback that all the experts predicted.  Up until this season, the Jesus Freak was just a man on the sidelines.  But then John Fox became the head coach; replacing the pass-happy Josh McDaniels, Fox decided to try an obscure offensive strategy using Tim Tebow as the quarterback.  All of sudden, after a 1-4 start, the Denver Broncos are on their way to the playoffs thanks to the late-game dramatics of Tim Tebow.

If it were any other man or if Tebow was a believer in any other religion, this would not be big news.  In any case, it certainly would not be the kind of big news it is today, the kind that makes football writers and fans claim they want to hurl and scream whenever Tebow pulls off another victory.  Remember the last quarterback who was more of a runner than a passer?  His name was Michael Vick and until he ruined the first part of his career by hosting dog fights, he was praised as the quarterback who would revolutionize the position.  Before him were Donovan McNabb and Steve McNair, two quarterbacks who were more dangerous running over defensive backs than throwing to the wide receivers those backs were covering.  None of these men were outspoken Christians; but even though they lacked the traditional quarterbacking skills, they were praised.  Tebow, while admittedly his skills are even less than the three men mentioned above, is having a spectacular year; not with personal stats, but with wins.  The last time I checked, being an NFL player was about winning, not racking up the stats.

This is not the ramblings of a Christian writer demanding that everyone layoff Tim Tebow.  I know, and Tebow knows this too, that all Christians are going to be criticized and persecuted because of their faith.  The One we have faith in told us that Himself.  Instead, this is a challenge: if you do not like Tim Tebow, that is fine; but do not let the media blind you.  Tebow is far from being the best quarterback in the league and may not be the best quarterback on his own team; but he wins, and that is what he is paid to do.  People who do not like the Bronco may not like him for that reason, but not liking him for any other reason, to me, seems ridiculous.  The secular media has created a stigma surrounding him that makes people hate him.  I asked someone why they hated Tebow, and they said: "His mechanics are awful and he keeps on winning."  Since when is this a reason to not like a player?  There are numerous examples throughout sports of athletes with unusual techniques that achieve success.  I don't think it's time for Tebow's critics to rethink their criticism of his skills, but I do think it's time that they rethink why it is even that big of a deal.

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