Tim Tebow died on a nationally televised cross Saturday night. He died for our sins. In order for us to experience the infinite forgiveness that comes from winning games on a 100 yard field Tim Tebow had to die an excruciatingly masochistic death. Tom Brady was all too happy to play Pontius Pilate at the crucifixion that took place 1/14/2012. When Tebow walked out that tunnel I could see the gentle grace in his eyes even though we all knew that he was about to face his execution. There would be no miracles this week. No more turning quarterback scrambles into wine. No more walking on Ike Taylor. He wasn’t gone be able to touch Decker and heal his knee.
Tebow was fitted with a self-inflicted crown of thorns in the shape of poor throwing mechanics. On his back was a cross of a 48% completion rate. And each incompletion that night felt like a hammer striking a nail pinning him down further and further. As the New England defense frustrated him time and again I could hear Tebow’s voice in my head saying, “Forgive them. For they know not what they do.” But he had to die in order for all of us to be forgiven for the spectacle that we’ve come to love MORE than the actual game itself. Now we have nothing to talk about but football. Through Tebow’s death… we have been given life.
It’s sort of fitting that his season should come to an end on the weekend that we celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. In many ways Tebow was the anti-embodiment of MLK’s dream. Sure, he was an Aryan demigod with a hardcore religious conservative background but he was also playing the quarterback position in a way that wasn’t traditional. To paraphrase the great football scholar Toure(heh), Tim Tebow’s style of play could only be labeled racially as “black”. What if Tim Tebow was black? He’d be Jordan Jefferson? But if Tebow was the fruition of King’s nightmare of being measured on the color of one’s skin and not the measure of his ability to perform then Tom Brady got his James Earl Ray on and assassinated a public figure who had come to stand as a symbol for so much in the world of sports.
Jason Whitlock posited that Tebow was a monument to having a strong father figure and used Tebow as a stick to beat down black quarterbacks who hadn’t achieved at the position. Rick Perry and Michele Bachmann used Tebow as a symbol to rally their campaigns behind before dropping out of the race for the Republican primary race. “Focus on the Family” used Tebow as a pitchman for pro-life politics and to promote Christianity during football games. And then there are the countless sports analyst who used Tebow for ratings. Tebow would come to stand for racial favoritism when Kordell Stewart ranted about Tebow’s treatment in the media as compared to Kordell’s own experience as a running quarterback. Keep in mind … none of this farce has anything to do with actual football.
Sports are supposed to be the one place where everything comes out in the wash. People are measured on the merits of their ability to help their team win games. But often we end up focusing far more on the entertainment aspect of sports rather than the actual break down of what is taking place on the field. I think Tebow was the ultimate example of this. People didn’t care what was happening on Sundays when it came to logic and reason. All we knew is that watching Tebow gave us a chance to feel good during close games as he threw a stone into Goliath’s forehead 48% of the time. The hype around Tebow became unbearable for any true student of the game of football. If you believed in the traditional assets a quarterback should posses then you were also left wanting when watching Tim take snaps as an NFL starter. Personally, I was in it for the fun of watching the media and fans turn on themselves as hero worshiping came to a head with the hatred of hype.
Tebow may never start another NFL game in his career but his “death” is going to be a gift bestowed upon fans of non-traditional (read: Black) quarterbacks for the rest of our lives. Now when a guy like Terrell Pryor is eventually given a few chances at starting for an NFL team I’ll get to find out who is a hypocrite and which of us genuinely roots for the inept underdog. This fun that I had this year with Tebow is essentially over with. I don’t expect to see him make it out of pre-season as the starter for the Broncos next year and I certainly don’t expect him to win games against a much tougher slate of opponents next year. It’s almost a relief because I’d love to be able to bottle up the entirety of this social experiment neatly in a one season time frame. But maybe Tim will drag it out for another season or two. Who knows?
I do appreciate having the appearance of rational analysis of football back as we head in to the conference championships. While Tebow isn’t the first sub-par athlete that we’ve become superficially obsessed with he represents probably the most egregious violation of our sensibilities. Tesus was lightning in a bottle for a football sideshow with his mix of race, religion and winning. This won’t be nearly as much of a novelty next year when he has some actual expectations heaped upon his shoulders. I expect the irrational pandemonium surrounding him to be quelled by an eventual disenchantment with horrible quarterbacking and losing next season. He won’t be able to pull this off again so he had to die for us to live in a world where sports make sense again.
Well, that is unless he does it again next year… which he probably won’t. But what if he does?