Monday, December 12, 2011

Tebow Fever: Caught

I tried to resist, but even I have caught a dose of Tebow fever. Though I've followed baseball, football, tennis, and basketball at various times in my life, in the last 4 or 5 years I haven't followed any sports closely at all, and I was fine with this development. With the NBA lockout this year causing even greater disillusionment, I was prepared to write off all sports forever.

Then in the last few months the name 'Tebow!' (always with an exclamation) kept appearing in my social network feeds, even though I don't follow any sports-specific figures on Google+, Twitter, or Facebook, and only some of these posts were coming from friends who were into sports. I knew who Tim Tebow was, that he was on the Broncos, and was aware of his faith, but I didn't know why he kept appearing in my feeds. After a while I finally googled him to see what the fuss was about and learned that, since becoming the Bronco's QB, they had gone 5-1 (at the time of the googling) with many of the wins being 4th quarter, miraculous comebacks. And that his persistent giving of credit to Jesus Christ for all that he accomplished -- in post-game interviews, during the game, in press conferences, and symbolically by kneeling (or 'Tebowing') after big plays -- was adding to the controversy surrounding him, creating vociferous and adamant supporters and detractors. Not only that, but Tebow's statistics at quarterback during this run have been fairly abysmal and his mastery of the fundamental skills of the position leave much to be desired, adding to the strangeness of the run. In many of the wins he seems to play poorly or mediocre for three quarters and then often brilliantly in the fourth. OK, so this is why he was causing such a stir. Interesting.

So yesterday, at home after church, I happened to see that the Broncos were playing and put the game on. The Broncos were down 10-0 with 5 minutes in the game when Tebow engineered a brilliant comeback, which was (providentially?) assisted by a severe mental blunder by Marion Berry -- the running back for the Bears -- when he ran out of bounds with 1:55 left on the clock, when merely staying in-bounds would have won the game for them. Later, in overtime, Berry looked poised to break free on a run for a possible game-winning touchdown, or at least to get into great position for a game-winning field goal, and instead he fumbled the ball and the Broncos recovered. This was another bizarre play in which, at a most crucial moment, eminent defeat was transformed into victory. Are there greater forces (or, more precisely, The Greatest Force) at work here?

Of course the magic isn't being created by Tebow -- or providence -- alone. In yesterday's game, for instance, the Bronco's kicker nailed monster 59 yard and 51 yard field goals late in the game, the former tying the game with seconds left and the latter being the game-winning field goal in overtime. Tebow put them in position, of course, and also helmed a crucial touchdown drive which put them in reach, but his teammates stepped up as well. After yesterday's miracle victory, the Broncos are now 7-1 with Tebow at the helm and poised to make the playoffs.

Whether God is a Broncos fan remains to be seen. It seems a trivial thing for God to care about, on one hand, but on the other hand, having a national figure so publicly and unabashedly proclaiming the power of Christ whenever he is given the opportunity is no small matter.

"I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." - Phillipians 4:13

Clearly Tebow believes this, and if he is always humbly pointing to the One who makes his accomplishments -- to say nothing of his, or anyone else's, existence -- possible, it isn't so hard to imagine that God would dignify that all-too-rare act with recognition.

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