Maybe it's hard to like Tebow because he makes us feel worse about our lives. Not in an MTV Cribs "I'll never have a pair of solid gold pants" kind of way, but because he's held himself to a standard that we know we can't reach. When we ask ourselves "What would Tim Tebow do?", the answer — at least for me — is "Not this." He wouldn't pocket the stack of change from Exxon's Take A Penny jar. He wouldn't ignore the elderly woman struggling to push her groceries to her car. He wouldn't make snap judgments about NFL sophomores who play two time zones to the left.
Maybe that's why it's easier to embrace a me-first NBA player who calls himself "King James" than to accept the humble NFL-er who quotes King James. Maybe that's why Tebow's around-the-clock commitment to Christ is a tougher sell than the empty gestures airmailed from the end zone, why we no longer notice when every third-down back high-fives the Almighty after a garbage-time touchdown.
Speaking of garbage, the Denver Broncos finished with a franchise worst 4-12 record last season and have sputtered to a 1-4 start, thanks in part to Kyle Orton’s 58.7 completion percentage. Other players would’ve turned water to whine by now, speaking out of turn, criticizing the coaching strategy or strongly suggesting that they get a chance to start. Not Tebow, who stood supportively on the sidelines, ears tucked beneath a mesh-backed hat as he reminded himself that thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s playing time.
But apparently the meek shall inherit the turf, and there couldn’t be a better set of circumstances for Tebow’s first 2011 start. Denver's opponent, the still-winless Miami Dolphins are — inexplicably — hosting Florida Gator Day to celebrate the team's 2008 BCS championship. Tebow will be honored before the game and cheered by a crowd that will probably look as orange and blue as the INVESCO Field stands. Tebow had one college start at the Dolphins' stadium, when he and the Gators collected that championship over Sam Bradford’s Oklahoma Sooners. Tebow completed 18 of 30 passes for 231 yards, and Noah-approved pairs of TDs and INTs. He also rushed for 109 yards.
“I’m honored to get this opportunity,” Tebow said of his upcoming start. “I’m very excited. I just know that every day I’m going to come out here and practice.”
Listen to him! He’s like Ned Flanders in a football uniform! How will he fare on the field? I’m not sure it matters. Tebow has been rotisseried since training camp, with most of the analysts serving their feelings beside criticism of his unorthodox throwing motion. His mechanics will be dissected from the pregame show until the studio lights dim for the night. If Tebow succeeds, it’s in spite of his technique; if he fails, it’s because of it.
John Elway, Denver’s chief of football operations, will be keeping one icy blue eye on Tebow and one on fellow Stanford QB Andrew Luck. First-year coach John Fox will just be relieved not to see the words “Jake Delhomme” on his depth chart. And Kyle Orton will sit sullenly on the bench, ignoring Tebow’s worn copy of Chicken Soup for the Second Stringer’s Soul.
Tebow has been silent since being named the starter. He hasn’t Tweeted since typing “Philippians 2:3” (“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit”) on the day he led Denver to an emotionally charged almost-comeback over the Chargers. He closed his post with “GB²”, his acronym that stands for “God Bless, Go Broncos.” That’s as perfect a summary of Tebow as you can get: He’s a Christian first, a football player second.
That won't change whether Tebow wins or loses, whether he starts or stands, whether you love him or hate him. He is who he is, and I'll always respect him for that. I might even eat my vegetables.
Jelisa Castrodale has learned a lot about life by making a mess of her own. Read more at jelisacastrodale.com , follow her on twitter at twitter.com/gordonshumway, or contact her at
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