...whether he is winning or losing, playing in Denver or elsewhere, he is certain to teach us something about ourselves and sports — whether we like it or not.
SALT LAKE CITY — Maybe it was the rancor of the Republican primaries.
Maybe it was a long week filled with sad stories.
But, I admit it, I was hoping for a miracle when Tim Tebow and the Denver Broncos took on Tom Brady and the mighty Patriots Saturday night.
I didn't get a miracle. Instead, it was a massacre. For much of the game, Brady had more touchdowns than Tebow had completions.
It was ugly.
But still, as I discussed the game afterward, I found myself saying something out loud that I'd been feeling for months.
"I could be a Tim Tebow fan."
That's not to say I'm running out to buy his jersey or jumping on the very crowded bandwagon. I'm not going to engage in debates about his abilities or skills, and, yes, I know he's rated No. 28 out of 34 in the regular season quarterback ratings.
But love him or hate him, believe in him or feel skeptical about his future, one thing is certain. Tim Tebow — and Tebowmania itself — reminds us of some interesting life lessons this football season. And that's what I think is worth discussing in the aftermath (or afterglow, depending on your perspective) of the Broncos exit from the playoffs.
1. Some superheroes really do use their powers for good.
Playing professional sports offers athletes a platform of superstar proportions. Some embrace it; some avoid it. Some just don't get it.
Tebow saw it, and then he sought to use it to remind us of some very important things. Every game he invited someone suffering to be his guest. From sick children to dying adults, he listened to them; he uplifted them; and then he reminded us that it isn't a sports superstar who should inspire us, but our friends and neighbors who quietly wage real-life battles everyday.
2. Being competitive doesn't mean losing perspective.
To be successful in life, one has to be competitive. But too often in sports we condone behavior in adult athletes that we wouldn't stand for in pre-school children because they are competing. "The end justifies the means" becomes the rallying cry, and "He's just a competitor" becomes a free pass for bad behavior, poor sportsmanship and classless comments.
Even those who criticize Tebow praise his competitive nature. No matter what the score or time on the clock, Tebow plays like it's his last opportunity. But when the final whistle blows, he talks of real life and what really matters.
3. Belief is half the battle.
Mind over matter is the mantra of anyone who's accomplished something in sport. So much of achieving physical goals begins with belief that it is indeed possible — breaking the four-minute mile, scoring 100 points in an NBA game and beating the mighty Soviet Union in a hockey game in 1980.
Tebow's belief in himself and his teammates often looked ridiculous. But it helped the Broncos make some fourth-quarter comebacks that could only be described as miraculous. He never quit, and his faith was contagious.
4. Public displays of religion make many of us as uncomfortable as public displays of affection.
Whether he was on the football field, in a press conference or in the locker room, Tebow was always at a pulpit. Every opportunity to talk about his good fortune as an athlete, led him to thank the God he felt was responsible for his blessings.
So why did that make him so divisive? Why wouldn't we revere a guy like that in a league where other players have been accused — and sometimes convicted of — despicable acts like domestic assault, drunken driving, rape and animal cruelty?
5. Fans have no faith.
After being disappointed so many times before, we just don't believe anyone is that wonderful. We don't believe he is as faithful, as selfless and as loving as he professes to be.
That's about the only reason I can find for why so many of us would hate on a guy who has done nothing but work hard, praise his teammates and love his neighbors.
6. What you lack in talent, you can make up for with hard work.
No one is going to say Tebow is the most talented quarterback playing the game. But his desire and determination made him one of the most successful college quarterbacks, and promise to make him an interesting professional as well.
Remember that he was basically a rookie this year. He played just three games last year and then took over Denver's starting duties when the team was 1-4. He finished the season 8-5 and took his team to the playoffs. What will he do with time? Training? Maybe a little mentoring from a guy like John Elway?
Who knows. But whether he is winning or losing, playing in Denver or elsewhere, he is certain to teach us something about ourselves and sports — whether we like it or not.
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