Tebow Exposed

The Christian Right hasn’t had such a bad day since their leaders discovered rentboy.com. Tim Tebow, Focus on the Family spokesperson, missionary, and anti-abortion crusader, found out yesterday that all the charisma, good looks, and athleticism in the world won’t help you play quarterback in the NFL if you can’t throw a football.

Against the Detroit Lions – an upstart team with the league’s 12th ranked defense - Tebow was 18-39 for 172 yards. He also fumbled a ball that was run in for a touchdown and threw an interception returned 100 yards for a score. Believe it or not, those numbers were even padded after the game's outcome was no longer in doubt. The idolized Florida All-American started the game an unreal 8-for-26 for 85 yards. The final tally was 45-10 and it wasn’t even that close. During the game, the Lions openly mocked what’s known as "Tebowing" (defined as “to get down on a knee and start praying, even if everyone else around you is doing something completely different.”) Lions defender Stephen Tulloch adopted the pose after the second of seven Lions sacks.

But the post-game assessments of Tebow were, if anything, more brutal than what took place on the field. Deon Sanders on the NFL Network said. “I like Tebow but that was pathetic. That wasn’t the resemblance of an NFL quarterback.”

The Denver Post’s Woody Paige tried the Halloween theme and said, “Tebow was as ghastly as that Regan character in ‘The Exorcist’ who cursed, threw up and spun her head 360 degrees.”

Mike Silver of Yahoo! Sports, reporting from the Lions locker room said Tebow was being “”low-blowed with a degree of disrespect that blew my mind.”

One Lions defender said to Silver, “Come on – that’s embarrassing. I mean, it’s a joke. We knew all week that if we brought any kind of defensive pressure, he couldn’t do anything. In the second half it got boring out there. We were like, ‘Come on – that’s your quarterback? Seriously?’ ”

Silver went on to say, “Words like atrocious, terrible, completely exposed and not even close to ready kept coming up in these conversations; a couple of Lions even used the term oh my god.”

You can excuse the Lions for being particularly chippy. The league’s own website NFL.com, shockingly in my view, billed this game as GOOD (picture of Tebow) vs. EVIL (picture of Lions defensive star Ndamukong Suh.) Rudyard Kipling couldn’t have penned it any better. After the game Suh said, “I guess evil won out.”

But it wasn’t evil that won out. It was merit. There is nothing that makes NFL players angrier than, to mix my sports metaphors, the idea of someone born on third base who acts like they hit a triple. After Tebow led the Broncos from the brink of defeat to victory against the winless Dolphins last week, former Bronco and ESPN commentator Tom Jackson said, “He might not be able to throw in the traditional sense, but he has something special. Something mystical. I wouldn’t bet against this kid.” There are a 1,000 similar quotes all saying the same quasi-religious thing: “Throw out the handbook because Tebow has something special we mere mortals cannot explain.”

Those of us who pointed out that Tebow had issues actually throwing the ball were dismissed as haters, know-nothings, or even worse, prejudiced against Tebow because of his piety. Let’s address this. I could care less about the religion of Tebow or any player. Retired quarterback Kurt Warner was always must-see-TV for me, and he has spent more time in church than stained glass windows. The difference between the two is instructive. Warner was never given half a chance to succeed. He was a 27 year old rookie backup who played his way onto the St. Louis Rams after a stint in the Arena Football League. He then played his way into being a future Hall of Famer. His religion was just part of who he was. Tebow, for all the breathless articles about his work ethic, is the picture of entitlement: a first round draft pick, starting in the NFL because assorted scouts, writers, and owners were besotted with his “goodness.” He's handsome. He's wholesome. He does missionary work in the poorest parts of the world to where he circumcises young native children. At the ripe old age of 23, he even penned a memoir.

The right-wing strain of evangelical Christianity to which his family subscribes, bleeds seamlessly into politics. Tebow proudly appeared, during the Super Bowl, in an anti-abortion commercial sponsored by Focus on the Family. FOF is an organization that believes in gay reparative therapy, ending women’s reproductive health, and organizing the far-right fringe of American politics. And yet Tebow was spared the normal media smackdown that “sports and politics don’t mix.” Instead his courage was compared in ESPN to people like Muhammad Ali, Tommie Smith, and John Carlos. [For the record, not only was Ali never given a spot in the Super Bowl to express his politics, he could also actually box.]

There’s something noxious about seeing someone in real-time being manufactured as a leader, a poster boy, and even an icon without proving it on the field. The Tebow experience has been like seeing the DC political media establishment swoon over the “next big thing” for higher office. The difference is that in football, there are no speech doctors, no slickly produced ads, no one who can just play “quarterback” at press conferences and photo ops. You can either play or you can’t. But pity not Tim Tebow. With that smile and sparkle, he can always find a home in national politics: a profession in which neither substance nor merit is required.

25 Reader Comments | Add a comment

I Guess This Makes Tebow A Martyr Now

Only makes sense that the fair haired Believer gets his much deserved humbling by a team called the Lions. A believer gets fed to the Lions at the stadium and mocked for his beliefs. I also like their top defensive lineman getting sent to the principle's office to discuss his bullying behavior on the field. Come on, this is the NFL, not Sunday school at church. This Tebow cult is an embarrassment to the league.

Glory be,Praise the Lord

I quote DZ: "I could care less about the religion of Tebow."

One paragraph later DZ states: "The right wing strain of evangelical Christianity to which his family subscribes, blleds seamlessly into politics."

Why does DZ interject Tebow's religion in the mix if he doesn't care about it at all? Woud DZ bring the same kind of objectivity if Tebow was a practicing Muslim born to illegal immigrants? Methinks not. I heard Jemele Hill who DZ has had on his radio show voice a similiar argument.

BTW after some games don't some NFL players kneel down and make suspcious-like prayer motions? And oh yes the sample is small but Tebow doesn't look like an NFL quarterback but neither does Rex Grossman.


Self-hating Dave Zirin relishes every chance he gets to bash a white person.

Zirin is a religious bigot

Good points Racist Moi . . . hell, lots of rookie QBs do poorly. I'm no Tebow fan, but lighten up hater Zirin.

Zirin is a self-caricature of a race-baiting, hypocritical demagogue.

He grew up wealthy in Manhattan, his father worked in the financial sector (that Zirin now bashes), he went to private schools most of his life, and now raises the banner of Marxist atheism. What a clown.

Lol indeed...

Did you guys even read the article? He's not just bashing Tebow for being a struggling rookie QB or for being white or religious. It's that Tebow has been HANDED everything in his professional career despite obviously not being up for the challenge. The right wing media props him up because of his "goodness", and somehow, moronic armchair coaches think that makes him a good football player at the professional level.

Players who actually have to earn their starting spot must be appalled. Dave even brings up Kurt Warner, a REAL UNDERDOG, who also wore his piety on his sleeve and EARNED his starting spot and future spot in the HOF.

Tornado, what does DZs father's occupation have to do with him or his writing? Dave is not his father and doesn't have to agree with what his father does or did in order to write his opinion. Do you have to be poor to bash Wall Street? Do you have to be of a minority to call out racism? What a simple fool you are. What a black and white world your eyes must see. You are here every week like a 14 year old internet troll spewing the EXACT SAME bile but YOU KEEP READING. What's it like to be so attracted to something you supposedly hate? Any other things you're keeping in the closet?

Race baiting? NFL.com did all the baiting with their ridiculous "Good vs. Evil" headline. The corn-fed, Jesus loving, all American boy with the right skin color, vs the large black man with the foreign sounding name that hurts people. What a joke.

Racist Moi, when Tebow plays in a Superbowl, then you can compare him to Grossman. Sure RG is no good but he led his team through the playoffs and into the SB. And he earned a starting job this year. Tebow didn't. His coaching staff just caved to pressure from moronic "fans". Tebow has made his coaches and team a laughing stock. He's not different and revolutionary, he's just not good at professional football.

My favorite argument is "They have to change their offense to fit with Tebow's style!". Huh? Shake up the teams entire offensive strategy because of one player? Doesn't sound like something that would fly in a team sport. Doesn't sound like something Jesus would do.

Dave brings up Tebows religion because Timmy and the right wing media THROWS IT IN OUR FACE. I don't care about his piety and I especially don't want to hear about that bullshit. I'm watching sports on Sunday, I sure as hell am not going to church. It gets my goat when ANY player praises "god" after a big play. Like a god would care about a meaningless sporting event.

The only clowns here are you trolls.

R.I.P. QB Christ.

Players who pray...

...half of them win, half of them lose. The winners thank their lord jesus; what do the losers do? They thank their lord jesus because their lord jesus had a reason for them losing which will only be revealed in the fullness of time. The truly pathetic thing about this is that this 'jesus christ' guy of the bible never actually existed. He was supposed to have died around 30-33 AD, but nothing was written about any jesus character until 70 AD. So the guy (mark) doing the writing must have just been a kid around 30AD and how the f*ck would he have remembered anything. Not only that but Jerusalem was full of Roman, Jewish, Greek chroniclers and there isn't a single mention of a guy named jesus getting a trial, being crucified, rising from the dead, absolutely nothing in the archives. It's all make believe folks, and it's pretty pathetic to watch supposedly mature men praying to some supernatural power for which there is no evidence of that powers existence at any time.


No Xmas cards for Lopez and Redford

Concerning Tebow's being handed everything in his professional career when he was drafted in the first round of the draft did the Christian right orchestrate that? Did coach Fox receive the good news to start Tebow? Denver drafted Tebow with the idea that he would improve their team. So far they're wrong,but I still say the sample size is too small.

However.Senor Lopez, I'm taken back by your vitriolic attack on a man who means you no harm. What I do commend you for is your straight-forward stance on religion in sports. There is nothing like DZ's mealy-mouth "I couldn't care less about his religion" and then proceed to care about his religion. You shouldn't stoop to defend DZ it only makes you look weak. With you Senor Lopez your position is crystal clear, and I find it refreshing.

Tebow vs Warner

Warner walks the walk, and doesn't care who knows it.

Tebow is seems to like to make a point of his religion.

My curiosity has me wondering if FOF appraoched Tebow about the doing the ad, or vice versa.

I cant form an opinion of Timmy's QB ability just yet, I'd like to give him a season. However, based on Sundays' play, he isnt NFL caliber. Yet perhaps.

DZ is right on this one

"Woud DZ bring the same kind of objectivity if Tebow was a practicing Muslim born to illegal immigrants?"

Maybe not, but it doesn't matter. If Tebow were this ardent a Muslim with this (non)skillset, Mr. and Mrs. America would not be clamoring for him to start, nor making excuses for inadequate play. In all likelihood, he would never be drafted under such circumstances, let alone receive consideration that a team dumb down its offense to fit him. His heroic college play would be admired in the moment, but he would have limited appeal outside of his own school's fanbase, and soon slip into obscurity.

The born on 3rd base...metaphor doesn't work here, in that Tebow's college resume is one for the ages. There have been many great college qb's, most with less ballyhoo, who simply were not suited the the NFL game. Only difference was, most of them were shut out quickly. In Tebow's defense, he did not create this brouhaha. He has merely experienced it on account of one dysfunctional team's foolish draft decision and an irrational fringe of fans and media who apparently cannot accept Tebow's limitations despite ample evidence.

I have disagreed with Zirin on many fine points, and will again, but he is mostly right here.


You're completely discounting what he did in college, Zirin. One could argue he was the best college football player in the last 20-30 years. That's why he gets the attention that he does.

Author? Memoirs? Gag me with a spoon!!!

Tim Tebow did NOT write his memoirs or anything else. Check it out: "Through My Eyes" by Tim Tebow AND Nathan Whitaker. What that means is that Nathan Whitaker actually wrote the book, while Tebow maybe grunted once or twice. Many athletes never even bother to read the book they supposedly "wrote."

the next great white hope

To be honest, dave, i'm surprised you missed the simple fact that Tebow is the next James J. Jeffries. He's the great white hope certain people want to stand against those scary black men like Vick and Newton.

Thing is, just like Jeffries, Tebow isn't worth a shit.


Who's this Tebow?

Give this kid a break!!!

Tebow is not the first, nor will he be the last to pray on the gridiron...To mock his prayer was in poor taste by the Lions. I did like the analogy of being thrown in the Lions den. Tebow has started maybe 5 games in his career. Sample size is too small for me to give an honest opinion. In some of the games he looked good, and the comeback against Miami was thrilling to watch. He did look like a boy among men against the Lions. I hope he succeeds, but if not successful he will not be the first 1st round quarterback to fail. Quarterbacks in the past have been given the starting job without earning it or proving they deserve it, yet the outcry for Tebow getting the job is rediculous. If not for his religious view would there be so much animosity toward Tebow. I don't think there would be.

Tebow Haters

Tebow doesn't look like an NFL QB yet but neither did Aikman, Elway or Manning in their first season. This is Tebow's first season getting a chance to play. The guy did nothing but win in college so of course he's going to get a chance. Aakili Smith got a chance why can't Tebow? The problem with Dave is that he's hated Tebow for years. And I believe it's cause he's an outspoken Christian. Look at some of his past articles about Tebow, particularly the one about Tebow's Super Bowl ad.

Tebow is not the GREAT WHITE HOPE. That's just stupid. I don't know if you realize that Vick and Newton aren't nearly as good as Brady, Rogers or Manning so why would "certain people" feel the need to hype Tebow on the basis of race. That's as ignorant as Limbaugh's comment on McNabb.

Tebow Haters

Tebow doesn't look like an NFL QB yet but neither did Aikman, Elway or Manning in their first season. This is Tebow's first season getting a chance to play. The guy did nothing but win in college so of course he's going to get a chance. Aakili Smith got a chance why can't Tebow? The problem with Dave is that he's hated Tebow for years. And I believe it's cause he's an outspoken Christian. Look at some of his past articles about Tebow, particularly the one about Tebow's Super Bowl ad.

Tebow is not the GREAT WHITE HOPE. That's just stupid. I don't know if you realize that Vick and Newton aren't nearly as good as Brady, Rogers or Manning so why would "certain people" feel the need to hype Tebow on the basis of race. That's as ignorant as Limbaugh's comment on McNabb.

Christian right

I'm no fan of the Christian right, but I agree with the above poster. Dave lets his hatred of them color his thinking. For example, he once wrote that Manny Ramirez was the best right-handed hitter of his generation even though he spent his prime years playing at the same time as outspoken Christian Albert Pujols. Dave also wrote nothing about this year's World Series and that incredible performance by Pujols in game 3.

Best Ever

As a liberal, atheist, and, most importantly, an Oakland Raiders fan, I hereby declare this article to be the best thing ever written.

Sorry - Don't Agree

As a fan of Dave's -- and a Jewish-born Queens kid who happens to be a Denver Broncos fan -- I'm suprised and disappointed by this piece, Dave.

There may be somewhat of a gray area between Tebow as athlete and as Christian crusader -- perhaps most saliently in his ability to capitalize on his celebrity and use it as a platform for an anti-abortion message. On the other hand, even if not NFL material, Tebow was an acknowledged star in college and earned his celebrity no less than did many another athlete, of whatever denomination.

And although I strenuously disagree with Tebow on the issue, at least he was not expressing something quite as noxious as when, say, Charlie Ward came out with the "blood libel" charge. (And even so, what's the answer except to respond with better speech.)

But the main point is this: It's possible (even for me) to assess Tebow the athlete separately from Tebow the Christian, and I am surprised you don't see it that way, Dave. True, idiot sportswriters may make stupid remarks about Tebow's on-field "miracles," and other idiot sportswriters may stupidly label Tebow critics anti-Christian. But we know better, and we can take the high road. Tebow himself has acted with humility, at least when I've seen him interviewed; yeah, he's thanked his lord and savior, etc., but how many other players do? Most of them, I'd wager.

As for Tebow's football ability -- and speaking as a lifelong Broncos fan -- I don't think the coaches are influenced one iota by his religion. I didn't see him in college, so I can't speak to that, but I assume his winning a Heisman wasn't a total fluke. Maybe the coaches saw his erraticness right away, but it always surprised me he got shelved so quickly in favor of a relative journeyman with a couple of good years at Chicago (Orton).

And I think the team made the right move to inject some life into a moribund franchise by inserting Tebow. Maybe they'll finish 2-14; maybe Tebow will be history in a few weeks; but this was already the worst season in Denver history, or at least recent memory. (It's the defense that really bites!) So give the guy a shot. Charisma has never been an overrated quality in QBs.

As Doc Brown says, "I figured, what the heck."


I meant to add: the "Tebowing" is pretty offensive even to me, a secular-agnostic-Jew. I'm surprised that's tolerated by the league, and not condemned by you, Dave.

Look, we all know Tebow will sink or swim on how many Ws he can put up. You acknowledge that yourself. So what's the big deal?


Last thing, I promise:
- Did I really write "suprised"? I do know how to spell better that Tebow can throw, I swear!
- At the risk of pointing out the obvious, the equivalent of "Tebowing" might be players in the opposing dugout "dovening" when Sean Green strikes out....Somehow I don't think many people would be amused.

Good introduction to DZ


I am glad to read that you appreciate contradictions and hypocrisy, even at your own expense.

"I could care less about the religion of Tebow or any player."

Followed by:

"The right-wing strain of evangelical Christianity to which his family subscribes, bleeds seamlessly into politics."

In the end, it is absurd reading the backlash from bloggers and journalists that are attempting to be the counter-culture of the media and cannot refrain from using the very tactics that they find so disgusting. Contradictions and hypocrisy at it's ultimate finest.


You really think the Tebows of the world are a problem in the National Felons League? At least
the guy wins!

Fred's Comment on Davening

Your Tebowing anaolgy with Sean Green dugout opponents seems to be off base, unless Green puts on his tfilim after he strikes out. BTW has Green ever appeared on TV opposing the eating of pork or driving on Shabbous?

Yes, Jay

'Twas an unfortunate choice. But I was only trying make the point that I'm surprised the NFL would tolerate anyone's religion being mocked, regardless of how public Tebow has made his religion. Of course, this is the same NFL that tolerates "Redskins," but still....

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Dave Zirin is the author of the book: "Welcome to the Terrordome: The Pain, Politics and Promise of Sports" (Haymarket). You can receive his column Edge of Sports, every week by going to dave@edgeofsports.com.
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