It’s fitting, we suppose, that with the retirement of one NFL quarterback whom we think might be using his religious views as a not-so-subtle way to put himself above the rest of us comes the arrival of another NFL quarterback who is even more over the top with the notion that he was in some way “chosen” — and thus is in every way “better.”
Before I go any farther here, I need to set the record straight. My position on people who are too obvious regarding their beliefs is not anti-Christian. I am a Christian. I go to church every Sunday. I have 12 years of Catholic education. And I personally believe that the likelihood that this planet of ours was created and populated with plants and animals by accident is even slimmer than the chances of dropping a bowl full of eggs, flour, and sugar and having it land as a five-tiered wedding cake.
But I’m naturally skeptical, by virtue of 12 years of Catholic education and many more of regular church attendance, of anyone who wears these beliefs on his or her sleeve.
Or, as the case may be, on the black strips under his eyes.
I was going to leave it all alone until Tebow broke out the word blessing multiple times during a short interview on NFL Network, including a response to his critics that sounded like a machine gun that fires not bullets but “blessings.”
We get it, Tim. You’re blessed. More so than the rest of us. If we get to Heaven, we can watch you play quarterback against the All-Hell defense.
Earlier today, I dropped a link to Matthew 6:5-8 when discussing Tebow. Here’s the text of it, for those of you who are interested: “And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners seen by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.”
I don’t think that verse ever appeared on Tebow’s eye strips.
Meanwhile, Tebow offered during the NFLN interview a strident defense of Florida coach Urban Meyer, claiming that players who come from the Gator program “know football,” and that Meyer and his staff teach schemes and concepts that apply to the next level. “When our guys go to the next level,” Tebow said, “they know what they’re talking about.”
Of course, the issue isn’t Tebow’s ability to read or understand an NFL playbook. It’s his ability to properly throw the ball. And though Tebow tried to downplay the change to his throwing motion by saying that he’s not really changing his throwing motion, if it wasn’t such a huge problem he would have been doing everything they wanted him to do at the Scouting Combine, instead of merely talking about what a blessing it will be to do everything that they want him to do at his Pro Day workout next month.
By pointing these things out, I don’t “hate” Tebow. He was a great college football player, arguably one of the best ever. But I’m skeptical because his behavior falls into the category of Matthew 6:5-8 that I’ve been taught to avoid, and because I wonder whether his purpose isn’t to spread the Good News but to cultivate and maintain an image that will serve separate interests.
The easy thing to do in this case would be to parrot the universal praise for Tebow. The harder task is to look past the facade, and to question whether this guy is as good as advertised — or whether he’s too good to be true.
UPDATE: Here’s the video. And here’s the key quote. “Well, I have been truly blessed. And the past four years have been a blessing to me. My whole career has been a blessing. I’ve truly been blessed. . . . So I just look at all the criticism . . . as another blessing.”