NFL QB Tim Tebow delivered the Easter sermon at Celebration Church in Georgetown, TX Sunday. I wasn’t there; my family and I attended our usual church. Tebow was by all accounts humble to work with, even telling the church’s pastor that he didn’t want to distract from the message of Easter. There is, of course, no avoiding those distractions for Tim Tebow. He is the NFL’s most controversial QB, because of his faith and because he is still working on his throwing mechanics. He is also controversial because, despite still being a football work in progress, he mostly wins games. In a cynical age when we’re all supposed to be finished articles from the time our permanent school records start to be compiled in pre-school, Tebow is a young throwback: His play style seems to be rooted in the age of Knute Rockne, and his values just don’t seem to belong in our time.
To the extent that anything I say matters, I just want to salute Tebow for what he chose to do with himself on Easter Sunday. He is a very wealthy young man in an intensely competitive world. He could have gone to some beach somewhere and no one would have thought much of it. His unceremonious ouster in Denver could have made him bitter, but so far there is no evidence that it has. The same media that loved him last season is likely to shred him next season. Even one of his biggest fans during last season, Michelle Beadle of ESPN, said on SportsNation last week that she hopes Tebow’s move to New York will expose him for the “fraud that he is,” and she wasn’t talking about his passing abilities. Everyone who has watched him play knows what Tebow is and isn’t on the field. He isn’t Aikman or Montana. Hardly anyone expects him to succeed on Broadway. But she wasn’t talking about football. Beadle was talking about tearing down his faith. It was a disappointing thing for her to say.
I’m sure Tim Tebow will disappoint Jets fans and many other people during whatever football career he has ahead of him. He will undoubtedly disappoint himself. We all disappoint God; what Beadle doesn’t seem to understand is that Tebow is a fraud, as are we all to some extent or another. Easter is about what it takes to make us real, or give us our true faces, as C.S. Lewis might say it. Based on the evidence of his trip to a state where football is often mistaken for a religion, and what he did while he was here, Tebow seems to have his eyes on his post-football life, already. It’s all too easy for young athletes rewarded with piles of money and excessive adulation to let it all go to their heads. There’s no evidence that Tim Tebow has allowed that to happen. He went to church on Easter and by all accounts was decent, he drew a huge crowd, and focused that crowd on things much larger than himself or his passer rating. Good for him.