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Tim Tebow: Be not afraid

January 10, 2012|Bill Kohler

Whether you know it, you really want to like Tim Tebow.

You know you want to like him; you might just not know it yet.

Even Steelers fan are going to like him — once the shock of Sunday’s defeat that knocked Pittsburgh out of the playoffs. (And for the record, I’m fairly certain if the Steelers had their full complement of players and coaches, they would have won by two scores.)

But, what’s not to like about the second-year Denver Broncos quarterback?

He has all the qualities you would want in a son, a brother, a husband, a friend and a teammate.

He’s nice, he’s humble, he works hard, he keeps his nose clean, he credits his teammates for his success, he doesn’t lash out at those who doubt him, he seems to respect his opponents, he’s a man of faith.

Oh wait, there it is.

Faith: The F word.

Why does that matter with this guy? He is not the first pro football player to be a strong Christian. Reggie White, the Hall of Fame former Eagle and Packer, was the “Minister of Defense,” and he didn’t catch as much grief. Hundreds of other athletes — current and former —  have strong beliefs. Their faith guides them, grounds them, helps them lead a better life. I’m OK with that.

Why does this guy freak us out so much? Why are people hitting on him for being so strong in his faith?

I watched an interview with him after the game Sunday. I can’t help but like him. I’m a believer. I can’t see why people don’t see him as the genuine article. And the football part is just an afterthought in my mind.

Remember, this is a complete outsider’s view, because I have no dogs in his fights. I thought his former coach Josh McDaniels was nuts two years ago for taking him in the first round (actually trading UP to get him in the first round) when he could have drafted him in round 2 or 3.

I still don’t think he’s going to be a great NFL quarterback but as a friend reminded me on Monday, I don’t know that for sure.

Here’s a few things I know for sure about this young man:

1) I’m not counting him out on the field or off. I’ve started reading his autobiography, and the guy has been a fighter since before he was born.

2) I would run into battle with him. Yeah, he throws funny, but so does Philip Rivers and Brett Favre. If the Broncos get some more weapons for him next year, watch out.

3) He is what I would want my son to be like when he’s older, and it has nothing to do with his football prowess (although a full ride to a D-1 school would be kinda cool).

4) The guy works hard at his craft and doesn’t take anything for granted.

5) The guy appreciates his talents and is grateful to those who have helped him achieve his success. We all could learn from that.

6) Numbers don’t lie. And I’m not talking about his passing stats. (However, observant colleague Joel Huffer noted Monday that Tebow threw for 316 passing yards. Yes, 316 as in John 3:16, which also created a buzz on the Internet.) Check these numbers:
— The Steelers-Broncos game in which Tebow starred was viewed by twice as many people as the BCS national championship game the next night.
— I did some random Google searches Tuesday. Here’s what I found: Tim Tebow: 28,200,000 results; Jesus Christ: 33,200,000 results; Tom Brady: 67,700,000 results; President Obama: 831,000,000 results.
The guy is polarizing, but he truly shouldn’t be. Like Tebow, I’m a faithful man with flaws, but I don’t push my religion on others. I do think, however, that there are tons of folks who could use a little holy slap upside the head once in a while.

Even if you hated him in college when he played for the successful and very confident Florida Gators, you’re gonna change your tune.

Even if you’re a bitter Steelers fan (you know who you are), you’re going to one day root for him.

Even if you’re a Raiders fan, you’re gonna, well, OK, maybe you’ll respect him at least because he’s a tough son of a gun. After he’s not playing anymore.

And for the nonbelievers, there’s another sermon scheduled this Saturday night in Foxboro, Mass. On national TV. Against Tom Brady, another polarizing quarterback.

Give Timmy T a chance. I have strict rules against cheering in the pressbox (i.e. these columns), but I’m rooting for this guy to continue winning on the field and off. And if you’re going to hate the dude, hate him because he beat your team on the field, not because he is a man of faith.

Lord knows we could use 10 more guys like him on every football field, four more on every starting basketball team and eight more on every major league baseball team. Heck, we could use five or 10 more in every office and retail store in America.

And yes, my son — who’s due in a few months — will be sporting a Tim Tebow jersey as soon as his Aunt Vonnie and Uncle Peter in Colorado want to send him one.

Bill Kohler is Tri-State Editor of The Herald-Mail. Follow Tri-State news on Twitter at @HMinPA and @HMinWV. Share your opinions on Tebow to billk@herald-mail.com.

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