I like Denver Bronco’s unorthodox and curiously controversial quarterback Tim Tebow. A lot. Not enough to burn down mosques or watch Hee Haw 2012 as some think. But Tebow’s a lot of things I am: Christian, Home Schooled, Physically Gifted Athlete, Heisman Trophy Winner, etc.
Heck, I wasn’t even that upset when he pulled his patented “Tebow Magic” on my beloved Chicago Bears. (As the Bears are pretty much done anyway this year.) But some don’t like the guy. Like who? And why? Let’s ask, Rabbi Joshua Hammerman who posted an article “My Problem With Tim Tebow” which has since been removed with an apology. Why apologize for an opinion piece on a popular athlete? Well, I didn’t just make up the whole “burning down mosques” and bringing back “Hee-Haw” bits, that’s from the Rabbi himself. (It’s good to know every religion has a Pat Robertson.) The text of said article went something like this:
I’ve got a Tim Tebow problem.
I want to root for the guy, but I’m afraid of what will happen if the hulky Denver Bronco quarterback continues to pull off what is fast becoming the Greatest Gridiron Story Ever Told.
A poster boy of the Christian right, Tebow steadfastly thanks Jesus after every game and, while in college, often inscribed biblical messages on his eye paint.
Now tiny Tim has grown and is on track to possibly appear in this season’s Super Bowl – on the field – and that is what scares me.
In this country, nothing, not even God, is more popular than football. Even in the wake of a summer long labor dispute, 23 of the 25 most watched TV programs this fall have been NFL games. When you combine the religion that is football with the religion that is religion, the mix can be dangerously flammable. The NFL ratings rise has been fueled in part by Tebow’s legions of faithful followers, as well as by those simply curious to see how this implausible morality tale plays out.
Next Sunday, the Broncos host the New England Patriots in a game coveted so much by the networks that NBC and CBS sparred in unprecedented fashion over who would get to broadcast it. And why not? While the Patriots are adored by their fans (myself included), to many nationwide they are regarded as the Sons of Darkness, with their perfectly coiffed Hollywood quarterback and their brilliant – one might say diabolical – hoodie-clad coach. And, oh yes, the most identifiably Jewish owner in sports. Tom Brady, Bill Belichick and Bob Kraft are all upstanding citizens, moral exemplars in their home communities, but in this Oberammergau of the Rockies, they are playing the role of Pilate.
People are always looking for signs of God’s beneficence, and a victory by the Orange Crush over the blue-clad Patriots, from the bluest of blue states, will give fodder to a Christian revivalism that has already turned the Republican presidential race into a pander-thon to social conservatives, rekindling memories of those cultural icons of the ‘80s, the Moral Majority and “Hee Haw.”
If Tebow wins the Super Bowl, against all odds, it will buoy his faithful, and emboldened faithful can do insane things, like burning mosques, bashing gays and indiscriminately banishing immigrants.
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