Amid the head scratching over why the New England Patriots decided to sign controversial quarterback Tim Tebow, the team's owner offered this opinion.
"If you want to win in this league, you need quality depth management, in the age of the salary cap. Whenever you can get a competitive, first-grade person to join your team, you never know what happens. But for me personally, having Tim Tebow on this team, he's someone who believes in spirituality, he's very competitive and works hard, and has a great attitude, and he's a winner," Robert Kraft told ESPN. "So having him as part of our franchise is great, but he has to compete just like anyone else. We're blessed to have a lot of people like that, but the fact that spirituality is very important to him is very appealing to me."
Kraft's statement about Tebow's spirituality grabbed a lot of headlines, possibly because head coach Bill Belichick has been silent on the decision to bring on a player the coach had reportedly said he "hated." But Kraft's comments also retrained the spotlight on a personal trait that has oddly overshadowed Tebow's achievements and futility on professional football fields: his Christian faith.
"Everything Tebow does is so trammelled with religion and politics that the main thing, his football ability, is sometimes lampooned and other times ignored to the point of willful negligence," wrote Bill Livingston of The Cleveland Plain Dealer.
Tebow has brought on some of the undue attention to his faith. He is certainly not the first athlete to give thanks to God after scoring, although he did try to trademark his prayerful pose, dubbed "Tebowing."
Still, Livingston says it's laughable for the news media to assert that Tebow's praying on the playing field makes him the most polarizing athlete in the country, considering the sometimes obscene gestures other players have performed after scoring touchdowns to draw attention to themselves.
Despite Kraft's attraction to Tebow's spirituality, the secular and liberal New England fans are only going to care if Tebow can help the Patriots win football games, Livingston says.
"The support system the Patriots put in place for Tebow might not be as empowering as his religious beliefs. But it's about football, not faith, anyway."