And then there's Tim Tebow. Alas, after an impressive six consecutive victories, Tim and the Baby Jesus were powerless against Tom Brady and the New England Patriots. To be honest, with the Patriots ahead by 11 points with about eight minutes left to go in the 4th Quarter, I envisioned Tebow running the ball into the end zone for a touchdown, followed by a 2 point conversion to put the Broncos within 3 points of the Patriots. Then Matt Prater would kick for a field goal to tie it up with under a minute to go to bring the game into overtime. We would then see another field goal by Prater to win the game, just like the Broncos managed to do in their previous two games. But this time it was not to be, as the Patriots scored another touchdown to give themselves an insurmountable 18 point lead.
This year has probably been the first in a long time where I really paid any attention to NFL football and watched the Jets and the Giants on a regular basis. I had heard of Tim Tebow last year. I knew that he was an openly evangelical Christian who liked to brandish Bible verses on his eye blacks when he was the quarterback for the Florida Gators college football team. While he won the Heisman Trophy, he also had his share of doubters and detractors who claimed he wasn't quite NFL material.
So, when Tim Tebow took over as quarterback for the Denver Broncos after achieving a dismal 1-4 during Kyle Orton's tenure, the time had come for him to prove if he had the goods. His first game against the winless Miami Dolphins set the pattern for many of the Broncos victories to come, a come from behind effort in the 4th quarter to tie the game followed by a field goal winning kick in overtime.
As an atheist, I was somewhat conflicted about Tim Tebow. I would be less than honest if I didn't admit that part of me (as well as quite a few other atheists) wanted Tebow to lose more than he won because a lot of Bible thumpers would claim his winning streak was the power of God at work. Indeed, I remember reading the comments thread to an article in Yahoo News (and curses for my not preserving the link!) and one commenter even went so far as to compare Tebow to the scientist Stephen Hawking. I don't remember the exact words, but it was something to the effect that Tim Tebow was in such great physical shape because of his belief in Jesus Christ, whereas Hawking, an atheist, had a shriveled body that was confined to a wheel chair.
Then I read this article about Tebow's pastor.
Tim Tebow’s pastor, Wayne Hanson, says he knows why the Denver Broncos are 7-1 since installing Tebow as quarterback – it’s the player’s faith.
“It’s not luck,” Hanson said according to TMZ. “Luck isn’t winning six games in a row. It’s favor. God’s favor.”
Hanson, who runs the Summit Church in suburban Denver, said the Broncos wouldn’t be winning games if God hadn’t decided to reward Tebow’s religious beliefs.
I guess God liked Aaron Rodgers better, with the Packers having won 19 games in a row. And God's favor was apparently absent when Tebow and the Broncos faced off against the Detroit Lions and the New England Patriots.
That being said, a part of me couldn't help but root for Tebow as well, seeing him as something of an underdog. As I mentioned above, he had his share of critics who claimed he wasn't quite ready for prime time because his passing stats were mediocre. Regardless of his skills as a quarterback, what is undeniable is that the Broncos are 7-2 since he became their starter and the Broncos managed to salvage what had been a horrible season.
Many of the Broncos games would be broadcast here in New York (though oddly, today's game wasn't), and to watch them come from behind time after time was a fascinating spectacle. Unfortunately, one of those victories was against the New York Jets. Even my wife found herself getting caught up in the Tebowmania. Last week, we were watching the Broncos play the Chicago Bears. Without Jay Cutler, I fully expected the Bears to lose. With the Bears ahead 10-0 in the 4th quarter, my wife was fretting that Timmy wouldn't be able to pull off a win. I told her, "Honey, this is what's going to happen. The Broncos will score a touchdown and then tie it with a field goal. Then they'll win it in overtime with another field goal." And sure enough, they did.
Personally, I really don't care how much Tim Tebow parades his religiosity on and off the field. It's his right to do it, regardless of how I feel about it. I wonder though if he ever prays to Jesus to cause an opposing player to miss a field goal or fail to complete a pass. Seriously though, when the Broncos win a game, it does not validate that Christianity is true, just as their losses do not invalidate it.
That being said, I'll make this wager. If Tebow can lead the Denver Broncos to three consecutive Super Bowl wins (one Super Bowl victory for each part of the Trinity!), I will become a born again Christian. Sorry, one Super Bowl is just not enough for me. I can't just make such a major change in my life on a whim! So I can enjoy the atheist life at least until February of 2014.
There are two more games left in the regular season for the Denver Broncos. Next week, they play the Buffalo Bills, who appear to be caught in free fall, having lost their last
The last game of the regular season, however, should be quite interesting, as the Broncos will find themselves facing the Kansas City Chiefs once again. When they last played each other on November 13, the Broncos easily dispatched the Chiefs 17-10, having never lost their lead throughout the entire game. But on New Years Day, Tebow will be matched against his former teammate Kyle Orton. If Orton and the Chiefs can pull off a win against the Raiders next week, he will be going up against the Broncos with something he hasn't had all season, a two game winning streak. That should definitely give Orton the confidence he needs to take on God's quarterback.
*** Boy, was I wrong there. That was probably the worse defeat they have suffered since Tebow took over as starting quarterback. God must have been resting for the Sabbath.