National Football League
Tebow no savior, no bum, just a QB
National Football League

Tebow no savior, no bum, just a QB

Published Jan. 13, 2012 12:00 a.m. ET

The lie about Tim Tebow is not that his career is faith-based but that everybody else's in the NFL is not.

I have covered the league for almost 10 years, and I can tell you without hesitation: Operating in the NFL is entirely about faith. Teams have faith in things seen and unseen daily — faith in their decision making, their quarterback, their game plan, their player evaluation. They could not survive without faith that all of this work is going to one day pay off in a championship.

The only difference with Tebow is we seem to have weekly referendums on whether that faith is justified.

He has Denver in playoff contention. He's football savior.


He lost to KC. Bring in Brady Quinn.

He threw an 80-yard game-winning TD in overtime against Pittsburgh in the playoffs Sunday. He's a legend.

Enough already. It has to stop now, this swinging pendulum of almost weekly Tebow overreaction.

Tebow is not the worst quarterback in America. Nor is he a savior of the football variety and certainly not of the John 3:16 kind. He is a kid who has proven he can play football in this league, who has earned the right to be the starting quarterback of the Denver Broncos next season and now he joins the long line of them trying to justify the faith and win a Super Bowl as he prepares to lead Denver against New England in the divisional round Saturday in Foxborough.

To make this about anything bigger is to do a disservice to Tebow.

I say this not to diminish what Tebow did Sunday. The touchdown pass on the first play of overtime after so much time had been spent on his passing deficiencies was one of the most iconic moments of the season. It is one of those great playoff moments that people will talk about years from now. It is where hype met results.

It is not unlike the entire Tebow phenomenon. Whatever you think of his long-term quarterbacking potential, it is indisputable that Tebowmania was refreshing. He is what we love about sports. He was inspirational. He made you believe. It is sad actually how many were unable just to enjoy the ride and instead turned everyday on a referendum on religion and Tebow's longevity when the truth is we do not know.

I have written about the hypocrisy of mocking his faith and personally believing in his ability to do what most say he is incapable of in recent months. And I am often asked what I believe as the Tebow story unfolds. I am not sure it matters. I am also willing to share. What I believe is God does not have a cheering interest in any sporting event. I do not believe Tebow's good games were divinely intervened, just like I do not believe his bad ones were because God chose to watch the Cowboys through the hole in the roof that Sunday instead. What I believe is an abiding faith, like what Tebow has in God, is a steadying force in times of trouble.

Which is what Sunday was.

What happened to Tebow depended, in no small part, to what he did Sunday against Pittsburgh. And he stumbled early and looked on his way to ending this season in free fall. He pulled from a reserve somewhere deep within to keep believing in himself. For some of us that reserve is built on faith in training, or family, or education. For Tebow that reserve is his faith in God.

It is what steadies him when the pendulum is swinging. It is his rock.

This should not be controversial, but it is. That Tebow threw for 316 yards when his favorite Bible passage is John 3:16 should not stir debate, but it did. It is all part of the wild overreaction created by a guy who chooses to so openly live what he believes. He is therefore given as proof of the existence of what for many is personal and given as an example of the misuse of religion by others.

It never seems to just be about the football with him. And Tebow can't escape the extremes, savior or bum, legend or failure when the reality is we do not know, not for sure. What we know is that he is a young quarterback who is trying to become one of the ones who make it.

I have faith. So should you.

You can follow Jen Engel on Twitter, email her or like her on Facebook.


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