ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — The Gospel and the gridiron are inextricably intertwined in Tim Tebow’s world.
The quarterback draws as much scrutiny for mixing his Christian faith with football as he does for his unconventional winning ways.
With all eyes on the quirky QB who has led the Denver Broncos’ remarkable resurgence, Tebow isn’t shy about publicly professing his religious beliefs, often ending interviews with a hardy “God bless!”
He inspired a viral phenomenon known as “Tebowing” when he dropped to a knee in prayerful reflection as his teammates celebrated around him in Miami after the first in a string of six outrageous comebacks.
Raised by missionary parents, Tebow wore Bible verses on his eye black at Florida and still preaches to villagers in the Philippines and inspires inmates during jailhouse talks.
Coach John Fox asked Tebow to give the weekly address to the team on the eve of a game at San Diego in November, and nobody was surprised when Tebow shared Proverbs 27:17 – “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another,” something Tebow deemed appropriate as offense, defense and special teams feed off one another.
Another time, Tebow approached defensive players before a home game against the Jets and told them not to fret, God’s got this.
“I like his passion,” Fox said. “I think in today’s world with all that’s going on in sport and our society, I think it’s wonderful.”
Others cringe. Former Broncos quarterback Jake Plummer said he likes Tebow but would like him a lot more if he would quit reminding
everybody how much he loves Jesus Christ.
No way, Tebow said, insisting he isn’t “just a Christian or a believer at church.”
Chap Clark, a professor at Fuller Theological Seminary, a prominent evangelical school based in California, said Tebow’s unorthodox route to success, after so many predicted he would fail as a quarterback, has set him and his faith apart, even from the many other athletes who talk about their religious principles.
“Tim has this ferocity as a competitor, but it’s still a game to him. He is consistently saying that football is not the center of life,” Clark said. “His great strength is that even people who don’t agree with his faith at all play their best around him.”
Tebow recently said he knows his openness about his religion can be divisive but that he feels compelled to share his story of salvation, and he relayed one of his favorite quotes: “I don’t know what my future holds, but I know who holds my future.”
It’s not like Tebow is proselytizing, his teammates say.
“The thing about Tim, I respect him, because he’s never pushed his religion off on anybody,” Broncos linebacker Wesley Woodyard said. “He just goes out there and believes in God himself and shows it every day.”