Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Tebow, Jesus and the Holy Football

And another Hump Day is upon us my Angry Angels, and what a Wednesday it is!  Four more days until the NFL Championship games and the Giants opportunity to avenge a regular season loss to the 49'ers and the Ravens attempt to find a way to keep the Patriot's out of the Super Bowl.  Anyone who watched Saturday's game against the Bronco's is of course eagerly waiting to see what Tom Brady can do this weekend.  It's hard to imagine that Brady was drafted 199th in the sixth round!  With every touchdown this guy throws and every record he adds, talent evaluators in the NFL have got to be thinking "Dammit!!"

I'm sure there is no shortage of fans out there who think about what could have been if "our" team had drafted him.  Personally I'm pretty happy with my team's QB Eli Manning.  While he isn't Tom Brady (who is?)  he did beat Tom in an incredible Super Bowl which is really all we as fans care about.  We want wins and we want championships.  In no other sport is one player so influential in it's teams success as the quarterback is in football.  From off and on-field leadership, to strategy such as play calling, to overall skills, the QB gets the most of the glory and fame.  Of course if they SUCK they get the lions share of the blame.

Having grown up a Giants fan and attending some memorable games, including the snow ball game in '95 where a San Diego Charger coach was knocked out by fans throwing snow balls.  As most fans have, I have witnessed the best and the worst of the team but have been loyal throughout.  When we ended up with Eli Manning "we" were overjoyed hoping he would be the second coming of his brother Peyton who almost single handedly turned the Colts into perennial contenders.  I was even at the first "Manning Bowl" where the brothers faced off at old Giants Stadium leading a raucous chant of "Eli's Better!"  Peyton would go on to win the Super Bowl MVP that year seriously calling into consideration my chant earlier in the season.

Then 2007 happened.  In his third year as a starter, fourth overall, Eli followed his brother as Super Bowl MVP in one of the more improbable runs in sports memory.  And we Giants fans seemed to forget Eli's 73.9 passer rating that year and 20 interceptions.  Now Eli has had his ups and downs and if I'm doing my math right, he might actually have a shot at breaking Brett Farve's career interception record.  One thing about him though is he doesn't really inspire a strong reaction, one way or the other, outside of the New York market.  And I am excepting the sportscasters who seem to GUSH over him every time he's on tv.

Now Eli has a career 82.1 passer rating.  Not great, not terrible...decidedly average.  All of his stats point to a long career of average.  Certainly not inspiring numbers but he does inspire his team to win when they NEED to.  Another current QB who does that is Tim Tebow.  Yet one major difference between the two is that football fans, no matter how casual, have a REALLY strong reaction to him, a surprising amount of it negative.

In 23 games Tim has a 75.1 QB rating, which is probably a little on the short side of average. His touchdowns  both through passing and rushing are 29 with total turnovers 26.  In 121 games Eli has total touchdowns of 189 and total turnovers of 196!!!  Yeah you read that right!!  196!  That's one and a half PER GAME!!  So why are there websites supporting Tim Tebow haters and not Eli? Or any other QB for that matter?

Is Tim a great QB?  Not right now.  No idea on how his career will play out but it hasn't started too terribly.  The arguments about him being one dimensional are concerns more for his coaching staff than anyone else, they knew what they were getting when they traded to draft him at #25 in the first round.  I have a hard time believing that people would put SO much effort into HATING an average QB who hasn't even started a full season yet.  Do they hate him for taking a team that started 2-3 to the playoffs after winning 6 straight?

Or is it something not football related?

For those of you not familiar with "Tebowing" the official "Tebowing" website defines the act as: to get down on a knee and start praying, even if everyone else around you is doing something completely different.  I suggest taking a few minutes and checking out  My personal favorite so far is the plane load of people all tebowing in the center aisle, hopefully in response to a successful on-time landing.   They even have a marketing and sales manager to promote Tebowing merchandise!!  Anyone want to volunteer to promote Angry Man merchandise?  I think I may be a few steps away from needing that just yet.

Now some of the backlash I have heard and read about this phenomenon is that people don't like how he is showing his faith and his thanks to a higher power that he believes in for giving him this opportunity.  And somehow this means that he thinks he is superior to his detractors.  Does that mean Hakeem Olajuwon and Muhammed Ali thought they were better than everyone else because of their religious faith?  How about Josh Hamilton on the Texas Rangers or the now retired Kurt Warner?  I remember Kurt being the subject of derision for thanking Jesus as his Lord and Savior after he won the Super Bowl, but certainly no websites devoted to mocking him.  Certainly no DJ's weighing in on how they don't like his showing of religious devotion during games.  Well what does that say about Olajuwon and Ali?

So there is no place for religion in sports?  There is no place for belief in sports?  Now my dear Angry Angels is where I normally ask "Why am I ANGRY?"  Well not today.  Today I ask "Why are THEY angry?"

They are angry because in their view, their own religion is being impugned.  All around the country, actually most of the world over, people very strongly identify with sports teams.  Doesn't matter if it's high school football in Texas, college football in Pennsylvania or soccer in Europe.  To a huge degree people identify themselves as believers in a sports team, usually more devout in their following of their teams than their religion.  We will wear a cross underneath our clothes while adorning ourselves with the colors of our team for all to see.  And how does that work out for us?  It didn't work out to well for San Francisco Giants fan Bryan Stow, or New York Rangers fan and former US Marine Neal Auricchio Jr.

Tim wears his cross on his sleeve, and his beliefs for all to see.  And while that bugs the adherents to the new religion of sport, what really drives them crazy with fear and anger is that his moderate success in their temple is attributed to a higher power that is not them.  And that's not the worst of it.  In under a year, imitating Tebow's shows of thanks and humility and service to something beyond the grasp of secularists has spread worldwide.  Do a google search for tebowing images if you doubt me.

Instead of adhering to the holy writ of marketing plans, Tim, like many others before him, uses his gifts and his opportunities to fund better opportunities for those in need.  His charity has raised $2.5 million dollars this year.  Unlike ALL of the charities I have railed against so far this year, 100% of the donations go to the intended beneficiaries.  How does he do that?  He pays salaries and administrative costs out of his own pocket.  You may not agree with all his viewpoints but you gotta give him respect for that.  Actually what I think I respect more is that he would likely be doing this type of work regardless of his celebrity and success.

So what then is the fucking issue?  As a group we by and large gave Michael Vick a pass on his behaviors because he was skilled.  Same with "Pacman" Jones and Michael Irvin.  Hell, Don King the boxing promoter was convicted of two homicides including beating to death one of his employees!!  Why is redemption in sports valued more than someone who doesn't need redemption?    Well it's because the one who doesn't need our redemption is out of our control.  Do you think Vick got paid by PETA or the NFL for his public service announcements?  I would wager no.  Tim Tebow's existence is a public service announcement and there's not a damn thing his detractors can do about that.  Regardless of his success on the football field, he measures his success off of it.

If even a small fraction of the people who take their pictures Tebowing adopt the generosity of self that Tim has, we will all be able to measure his success, and our own as well.  Irrespective of our own faiths, shouldn't we all be trying to DO something in our lives that would make us WANT to throw a "Tebow?"  If a few more of us Tebowed maybe we would have fewer Jerry Sanduskys in the world.

And with that our Anger Management Session for today draws to a close.  Remember that ANGER without a directed resolution is pointless!

Tomorrow: TV!


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