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It’s hard to root against Denver’s improbable hero

January 13, 2012
Salem News

Tebowing: The act of taking a knee in prayer during an athletic contest.

"Tebowing" has been officially recognized as a word in the English language by the Global Language Monitor, due to its worldwide usage. That shows the impact that Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow has had. Forget out of the country; unless you have been off the planet, you must have seen the famous Tebow pose by now. You don't have to follow football to see it. It is being mimicked everywhere. Including by our troops. How's that for respect? His popularity is boundless.

And good for him. Tebow is a devout Christian. He wears his faith like he does his football uniform. There is nothing phony or bogus about him. He is a well-grounded, clean-cut and religious young man. Yeah, for sure the kind of guy a father would love to have his daughter bring home to meet. He was born in the Philippines to parents who were serving as Christian Baptist missionaries. He was home schooled in Christian ideals before attending a high school in Florida. There he gained prominence for athletic talent and his fortitude - once playing in a pivotal game with a broken fibula. How's that for sucking it up?

At Florida, he was the first sophomore to ever win the Heisman Award, given to the top collegiate player. He was a two-time All-American as the Gators won two national championships.

Defying skeptics who railed that Tebow's unorthodox style- he certainly lacks the pure throwing motion of an NFL quarterback prototype- would not be a fit, Denver took him with the 25th pick in the 2010 draft. Tebow played sparingly during his rookie season and began this past season as a backup. He was steadfast throughout, chin out and up, his perseverance unwavering. The Broncos struggled early and through a set of circumstances, Tebow was summoned to start.

He never looked back - leading the overachieving Broncos to the playoffs, often with late-game heroics. His stats were often ugly but wins are always pretty. His improbable story took on another whole chapter last Sunday.

Pittsburgh fans are likely still smarting from being beat - OK, "Tebowed" if you will - by Denver on the first play of overtime last week. It was a game the Steelers were supposed to win. But Tebow completed an 80-yard to touchdown on the overtime's first play to stun Pittsburgh. As an aside to Browns' fans, an admirer on the Denver sidelines was now Broncos executive John Elway who, 25 years ago almost to the day, staged the fabled "Drive" to break Cleveland's collective hearts. That still hurts.

The Broncos play at New England this Saturday evening. The Patriots are very good and are 14-point favorites. Many Tebow critics contend he doesn't have, well, a prayer against the Patriots. But they might want to reconsider.

How's this for fate, coincidence, or maybe even some divine intervention? Against Pittsburgh, Tebow threw for 316 yards, averaged 31.6 yards per completion and when the big touchdown pass was thrown, the national TV rating peaked at 31.6. In college he became widely known for his eye paint "John 3:16" as in the Bible verse. Last Monday, "John 3:16" was the number one Google search. Think of what a good influence he has been. Twitter reported there was an average of 9,420 tweets per second after Tebow's touchdown pass in overtime. That number crushes the royal wedding and Osama bin Laden's death. How's that for showing up those who mock and ridicule him for his public displays of faith?

Say what you will about the fanaticism that has emerged over Tim Tebow. Say what you will about his beliefs. From this vantage point, in a society that pukes up garbage like gangsta rap and Internet filth all over itself on a second-by-second basis, we could be doing a lot worse than rooting for a Christian who has become a superb role model for thousands of young people across the nation. That is the biggest achievement Tim Tebow will ever have. Parents be thankful if your young child asks for a Tebow jersey or bedroom wall poster. He might not have the best throwing motion and might not be a textbook quarterback but he has the intangibles, strong will, work ethic and faith to succeed on the field and off. He should be an inspiration to us all. Even Pittsburgh fans.



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