Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow has taken much criticism for his God-fearing, I-Heart-Jesus ways.
(Guest post from Kent Page McGroarty)
From SNL skits featuring Jesus in the Broncos’ locker room to NFL players mocking “Tebowing,” or when Tebow drops to one knee to say a quick prayer, it seems Tebow gets just as much press for his religious beliefs as he does for his stats. Now that Tebow and the Broncos have secured their place opposite the New England Patriots in the NFL playoffs, critics are wondering how many more times the quarterback is going to thank that big sports fan in the sky for his success on the football field. Though Tebow is arguably the most vocal quarterback in NFL history concerning his faith, he is certainly not the first player to go on (and on) about his love-slash-fear of God.
He’s just the most annoying.
Other players who credit God for their football success have included former Redskins quarterback Jay Schroeder, who now spends his retirement as a teacher, coach, and Christian speaker. Schroeder, who helped the Redskins win Superbowl XXII against the Broncos, spreads his message to high schools around the country through the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. He remembers speaking to a minister who “opened his eyes” way back in 1984. Schroeder said he would do “whatever God wanted,” which apparently meant playing in the NFL.
Bruce Matthews, another NFL Hall of Famer and Fellowship of Christian Athletes speaker, found Jesus during the rookie season of his lengthy NFL career. “We all have a burning desire in us for significance,” said Matthews, who played for 19 years as an offensive lineman for the then-Houston Oilers and Tennessee Titans. “It’s been likened to a God-shaped hole in our hearts.” What specific shape God takes in Matthews’ heart is still undetermined at this time.
Who can forget Jessica Simpson commenting that she and Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo prayed each night before they went to bed? Those prayers haven’t helped Romo capture a Superbowl title, whose critics point to his much-publicized personal life as distraction from his quarterback duties. Romo has since married a former Miss USA contestant seven years his junior and is expecting his first child. No word about whether Romo blames God for his inability to clinch more than one playoff victory.
Even if you didn’t know anything about Titans quarterback Matt Hasselbeck’s religious affiliation, his irritating sister-in-law and View co-host Elisabeth Hasselbeck vocalized the family’s beliefs once she began her stint on the venerable talk show however many years ago. It was Hasselbeck’s trip to poverty-stricken Jamaica while still playing for Boston College that made him get down on his knees and pray.
“I said, ‘Dear God, I apologize for not using my health and my athletic ability You’ve given me to the fullest,’” said Hasselbeck after visiting with Jamaican lepers who still thanked God for their blessings. A three-time ProBowl selection who won SuperBowl XL while playing for the Seattle Seahawks, Hasselbeck has talked about reconciling football with his faith, calling Jesus “a stud” who would “play all out if He played football.” He has also commented that he and his teammates say a quick prayer before each game, hoping God will approve their playing.
Before beating the Chicago Bears back in December, Tebow told Broncos linebacker Wesley Woodyard that “God had spoken,” and therefore victory was imminent. The 13-10 overtime win prompted further comment from Tebow, who noted that he wasn’t necessarily prophesying, rather “sometimes you can feel God has a big plan.” God must have been favoring Kansas City when the Broncos lost to the Chiefs in Week 17, but was apparently with Tebow again during his win against the Pittsburgh Steelers this past Sunday.
Current and former NFL players like Terrell Suggs and Kurt Warner have blasted Tebow for his constant Jesus-touting, with Suggs remarking “With all due respect, we don’t need God on our sidelines.” Warner, a “man of God” himself, has been quoted as saying “Put down the boldness in regards to the words, and keep living the way you’re living. Let your teammates do the talking for you. Let them cheer on your testimony.” In other words, stop yapping about Jesus all the darn time, play the game to the best of your ability, and be a true Christian example on and off the field. After all, talk is very, very, very cheap.
As Tebow prepares to face “God’s nephew” Tom Brady this Sunday, it is important to remember that Tebow hasn’t won the Superbowl yet. It will be interesting to see how God fits in if the Broncos end up losing in the playoffs, though the idea of Denver taking it all probably makes Tebow critics throw up in their mouths a little. A Superbowl win will undoubtedly inspire Tebow to shove more Jesus in everyone’s faces, something SNL skit Jesus Jason Sudeikis advises Tebow to please cease and desist.
Kent Page McGroarty is a blogger for Gold Star Games, a leading tailgate gear supplier.