January 2012: A Line in the Sand - The Christian Quarterback
Author: Frank Dunne, Jr. & Courtney Hampson | Photographer: Photography by Anne
Well, the ink isn’t even dry on 2012’s birth certificate and our dear Miss Courtney, hater of all things good, decent, and rational, is already rearing her horns.
The target of her ire this hour is Denver Broncos quarterback, Tim Tebow, a remarkable young man of exceptional character, who last fall enjoyed success beyond all conventional wisdom as a result of his hard work, commitment to excellence, leadership, and winning attitude. But listen to this. He drops to a knee and says a little prayer when he scores touchdowns (gasp!), and during media interviews he addresses reporters as sir and ma’am and—you’d better sit down for this one—gives thanks to God for blessing him with the rare ability to play professional football. Can you believe the hubris? Can you believe the unabashed disregard for The Queen of Intolerance’s fragile psyche?
She’s not alone either. There’s a fairly sizable element in the sports media and elsewhere banging on Tebow for wearing his Christian faith on his sleeve. As the guys on Sunday NFL Countdown like to say, “C’mon, man!” We’re talking about a guy who spent his college breaks on missions to help desperate people in God-forsaken places. He’s a gentleman. He’s eternally optimistic. He gives his absolute best effort on every play. He listens to his coaches. He turned a team that couldn’t beat its own cheerleaders at flag football into a playoff contender. Out here in the place called Reality, we call that a “positive role model for the kids.” In the Wacky World of Courtney’s Head, he’s called an idiot. Can I get another C’mon, man?!
Try this little exercise. About a million kids play high school football in America, and there are 1,920 active roster positions in the NFL. Ergo, a pretty small number of guys have a snowball’s chance in Miami to get within a cat’s whisker of a sniff at an extremely outside shot at a slim opportunity to try out for an NFL team. Now, read the following two sentences out loud:
1. “I’m so blessed to have this opportunity.”
2. “We’re taking it one game at a time, and if we give 110 percent and play as a team we should win some ball games.”
Which one sounds idiotic? In the annals of football history, there isn’t a single recorded instance of a team playing two games at the same time. If it’s possible to exceed 100 percent effort, why stop at 110? What if the other team gives 115 percent? And, by rule, there are 11 men on either side of the ball in every game. You can’t play as anything other than a team.
Yet players utter some version of sentence number two hundreds of times every season, and the interviewers react as if they’ve just received profound insight rarely heard outside the locker room. But when Tebow says sentence number one, we get a three-minute editorial on Mike & Mike in the Morning lecturing us why he is “wrong.” One more time…C’mon Man!
Now, go back and reread the first three paragraphs, and then read the following two sentences out loud:
1. “The Broncos improved from 1-4 to 7-4 with Tim Tebow starting at quarterback, and he makes about $9 million.”
2. “Tim Tebow is an idiot because he says prayers on the field.”
Which one sounds idiotic?
Happy New Year everybody, and thank you, God, for blessing me with a great editor, Maggie Washo, and an opportunity to share this column with Courtney Hampson!
Recently, on the Today show, Ann Curry was interviewing the parents of a young model who had been struck by a plane propeller. Needless to say, she was severely injured; however, her parents were thankful for everything that the Lord has done for her recovery. Call me a cynic, but my retort to Ann (and the TV, neither of whom was listening) was, “Where was the Lord when this chick was 10 seconds from walking into a rotating jet propeller?”
Duck! Stop! Be careful! Look out!
Nope, she got nothing. No warning. No divine intervention.
So it was only timely when Frank and I began our monthly “what to write about debate” that we landed on Tim Tebow and his penchant for getting down on one knee and praying every time he scores and subsequently thanking Jesus for blessing him with great coaches and teammates (and John Elway) every time he’s interviewed. So, would it be fair to say that while the model was being near-mortally injured, God was watching football instead?
I think not.
So, to Tim Tebow I say, “Dude, you’re an idiot, and to get started, here are a few of the factors that may have actually contributed to who your coaches and teammates are:
1. The National Football League who orchestrated the draft and facilitated your team selection.
2. The Rams, Lions, Buccaneers, Redskins, Chiefs, Seahawks, Browns, Raiders, Bills, Jaguars, 49ers, Chargers, Eagles, Giants, Titans, Steelers, Falcons, Texans, Packers, Cowboys, Cardinals, Patriots, and Dolphins who all picked before Denver in the draft and probably took the player that the Broncos really wanted. (Don’t you think God would have traded up?)
3. The Panthers who dumped Coach Fox after his two and fourteen 2010 season which, ironically, yielded the first pick for them in the 2011 draft, thereby making way for Elway to hire Fox for the Broncos club.
Just so I understand correctly, is Tebow saying that God made the Panthers suck? Embarrassed their coach? Disappointed thousands of fans all so he could be a superstar in 2011? Doesn’t sound like any God I want to know. While God is working so hard on Sunday helping Tebow get the ball over the line, who is listening to the millions of people donning their Sunday best and heading to mass where they believe in an almighty power and that someone is listening?
If God is really that into sports, maybe he should have spent a little time at Penn State or Syracuse. Some folks in those college towns could have used a little someone watching over them. No?
I prefer to believe that if there is a God, he is working on the bigger things—like watching over the thousands of deployed service members who haven’t seen a football game in months. Or the sick patients at every children’s hospital in this country. Or the new mom covered in spit up who hasn’t slept in weeks and has no idea how she is going to be a good parent. Or the single dad, working to make ends meet and worried about where his child’s next meal will come from.
If God is instead watching Tebow and offering the assist, one (this one!) might ask, where was God when other NFL players have suffered career-ending injuries? I obviously have more questions than answers, but that’s okay. I think a lot of people have questions when it comes to faith. I just hope God is answering the most relevant ones.
Maybe God did play a role in Tebow’s draft and helps him win each week. After all, Denver’s stadium is a mile high, which puts it closest to the big guy’s “home field.”