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Tim Tebow has made a football fan out of me. This is no small feat.
Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow (15) celebrates after beating the Pittsburgh Steelers 29-23 in overtime of an NFL wild card playoff football game Sunday, Jan. 8, 2012, in Denver.
A few weeks ago, when I began asking my husband when the Denver Broncos were playing, he was stunned. I had never watched an entire football game on TV.
I had interviewed Tebow when his book came out and was intrigued by this innocent, sincere kid, the 24-year-old son of a missionary who was a virgin, helped build an orphanage in the Philippines where he vacations, and is a devout Christian. He really was too good to be true.
I also was fascinated by the anti-Tebow coverage generated by his open faith. His prayer pose (aka Tebowing) before and after games was ridiculed and many people were actually, well, praying for him to lose. This whole business of “God is in Tim’s corner,” was just too much. And those who did not ridicule his faith merely pointed out that he couldn’t throw.
Well, Tebow certainly proved them wrong this Sunday when he won the game against the formidable Pittsburgh Steelers. He threw for two touchdowns and ran one in for himself.
My husband was planning on rooting for the Steelers. No way. I dishing information about Tebow: “You realize he’s playing against quarterback Ben Roethlisberger,” I told him. “He’s a two-time Super Bowl champion and an evangelical as well, who fell away from his faith and is now back. That’s part of the drama of this game. These two guys are praying to their Lord. One of them has to lose. Who will it be and will it be because God favors one or the other?”
My husband looked at me as if I had just arrived from the moon. “How the hell do you know that?” he asked.
“Because, I’m a Broncos fan.”
“You’re a what?”
“Stop talking. I don’t want to miss plays.”
Though Tebow has been known this season for his 11th-hour wins, the Broncos got off to a great start with a second quarter touchdown and field goal, putting them ahead of the Steelers.
Tebow was hot. “What a great fake,” I yelled as Tebow passed unseen to a teammate who managed to carry the ball several yards closer to the end zone.
My husband was becoming impressed.
“He’s not known for his arm but he’s throwing really well,” I announced.
The Broncos were close to the end zone and decided to go for a field goal. The kicker, stepped up to the ball. “Matt Prater,” I screamed. “He’s fabulous! Go Matt!”
“I don’t believe this,” said my husband, totally confounded, as he rose from his chair to get a beer.
My son, also a Tebow fan, was laughing uncontrollably.
Then things got serious when the Steelers made a touchdown and there was the heartbreaking fumble so close to the end zone.
By this time I had gone into full cheerleader mode: “Block that kick,” I was yelling, or “First and 10, do it again.” My husband kept glancing at me strangely. Who was this person he had married?
Then I realized why I couldn’t watch football. I get too emotionally involved. It’s upsetting to root for a team and have them lose. I had a personal investment in Tim Tebow. So when the game went into overtime, I had to leave the room. I couldn’t stand to watch. Then I heard my son yell, “Oh my God, look at that. Get it, get it, get it, Yes!!! I came running back just in time to see the touchdown and watch the replays. I was ecstatic.
Denver beat Pittsburgh and Tebow had 10 completions in 21 passes for 316 yards!
Then he did it. He Tebowed. I had to explain to my husband that Tebowing meant praying. Later in the locker room he would say, “First and foremost, I just want to thank my savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. I am so thankful for the platform God has given me.”
The really eerie thing was that he passed for 316 yards. When Tebow was in college he wore the numbers of verses from the Bible on his eye black. One of them was John 3:16. “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.”
The question is, as I have asked before, will Tebow be able to withstand the kind of pressure he continues to face as football’s miracle boy?
According to those who know him best, he doesn’t crack under pressure; not from living up to his reputation, not from the brutality of the sport, not from criticism, not from failure.
In a recent interview he was quoted as saying, “Hopefully, people see through interviews or how I act that I’m someone that tries to put the Lord first, cares about other people, wants to do good, wants to make a difference in other people’s lives and also cares about playing sports, cares about my teammates. What I really try to get across is being genuine and being real, and hopefully, that’s what people take away.”
That’s why I’m a Tebow fan. Not because of his faith, but because of the kind of person he is.
And that’s why, next weekend, you will find me, to my husband’s surprise, in front of the television watching Tim Tebow take on Tom Brady and the New England Patriots for the second time. This time, hopefully, he’ll win.