By Joe Boyles
Guilty — this is another one of my columns that doesn’t remotely deal with national security. But it’s my column and I have plenty of license, so here goes… Besides, this one is fun to write and requires no research.
The football world (any others too) is agog at the antics of Denver Bronco quarterback Tim Tebow. Of course, we Floridians (and Gators in particular) are well versed in the heroics of Tebow – two national titles, Heisman Trophy, 48 wins including four drubbings of the Seminoles (sorry about that ‘Nole fans), first round draft choice, etc.
Along the way, we learned that Tim is a remarkable young man off the field as well. The son of missionaries; born in The Philippines; the youngest of five children; home-schooled; honor roll student; devoutly Christian. In fact, he wears his Christian values on his sleeve … as missionaries should. Never pass up the opportunity to confess the faith of Christ crucified nor evangelize, especially when you do it by example. He continues to make annual pilgrimages to the Philippine orphanage his father founded.
Part of the Tebow legend is that when his mom Pam was pregnant with her last child, she developed a blood disorder from poor drinking water. Her doctor in Mindanao recommended a medical abortion to protect her fragile health. Pam and her husband Bob prayed about the decision and decided to put God in charge of such matters. She survived the pregnancy and gave birth … to little Timmy. Little Timmy is now all grown up at 6’3”, 250 pounds. God answers prayer.
Tebow is now in his second season with the Broncos. He took over as the starting quarterback after the fifth game when the rabid Denver fans demanded change. At that point, the Broncos were in the cellar of the AFC western division with a 1-4 record. Over the next eight games, Tebow guided the team to a 7-1 record and first place in the AFC West, with many come from behind, last second victories. The fourth quarter comeback heroics became known as “Tebow Time.” Bronco mania returned to Mile High.
All of this thrust Timmy (as his mother Pam calls her youngest) into the international spotlight even more than the bright lights of Gainesville had. His characteristic pose on one knee, head bowed, fist to forehead thanking God for strength and deliverance earned him plenty of attention … and ridicule from the likes of late night loudmouth Bill Maher.
Some have suggested that he is the “most polarizing figure in professional football.” I suppose that’s true if you consider the important figures of the Bible – Isaac, Abraham, Paul, Simon Peter, Andrew, Isaiah, to name a few. – polarizing. They certainly were two thousand years ago. Many of them were put to death for their outspoken beliefs, so they must have been polarizing. It’s hard to imagine a man of God as polarizing, but maybe he is. If so, it is a sad commentary of our times
Here’s a funny story about Touchdown Tim. Four years ago, I was on the board of directors of a Tallahassee non-profit crisis pregnancy center. At one board meeting, we were discussing a banquet speaker for an upcoming fund-raiser when our executive director chimed in. “I’m in contact with the mother of a University of Florida football player who just won a nice prize. His name is Tim Tebo.” I kid you not! Of course, the prize was nothing less than the Heisman, the most iconic award in sports. Before the letter of invitation went out, we corrected the spelling to Tebow with a w. Don’t believe me? Ask Mark Branham. He’s my witness.
Sunday, after the Broncos had backed into the playoffs with three consecutive losses, the luster seemed to have worn off Tebow’s halo. So what does he do? Puts the Broncos ahead of the defending AFC champion Pittsburg Steelers, and on the first play of overtime, throws an 80 yard touchdown pass to win the first playoff game in Denver in five years. That nifty play was seen by no less than 45 million viewers. Hail Tebow; the legend continues.
Incidentally, while we’re on the subject, here’s an interesting piece of trivia that might win you a cold one at the local sports bar. The Florida Gators have had three Heisman Trophy winners; all quarterbacks; all the sons of preachers. The uninformed skeptics will try to correct you by saying that Steve Spurrier’s father couldn’t have been a minister. Oh yes he was … in Johnson City, Tennessee. For the record, number two was Danny Wuerffel whose dad John was an Air Force chaplain. We served together at both Edwards and Eglin in the 1990s when Danny was chucking the ball all across the SEC.
Maybe the Broncos and their young quarterback are the recipient of divine guidance. I know that many fans in Denver are true believers; they demanded change and their faith has been rewarded. Miracles do happen. And to those doubters: “oh ye of little faith.”