Let me preface this post with a disclaimer: I'm going to talk about religion and sports, two topics that are in the same volatile stratosphere as politics when it comes to "appropriate party conversation." That said, it's merely to set up The Whole Point and, if anyone takes offense, I'm sorry. It's not intentional.
So here's the thing: I watched the Broncos-Bears game last night (and by "watched", I mean that it was background noise while CobraMrsFit and I puttered around the house). For three quarters, it was boring TV. Tebow and the Broncos looked flat and the Bears, lead by the machine that is Brian Urlacher, completely dominated the Broncos offensive line.
But with, and I'm not kidding, about 2 minutes left in the game, CobraMrsFit and I were glued to the TV. The Broncos not only scored a TD, but failed to recover an onside kick, watched the Bears drive down the field only to have Marion Barber step out of bounds (one of two game-changing mistakes), then somehow also drove down the field which set up Matt Prater for a 59-yard field goal to tie it with 3 seconds left in the game. And, because there wasn't enough drama already, the Bears won the coin-toss in overtime, drove down the field only to have Barber fumble the football (which the Broncos recovered), and then Tebow and Company set Prater up for a 51-yard field goal to win.*
It was, without a doubt, one of the most intense games I've watched in a long time.
Now normally the post-game interviews with players are a load of boring, run-of-the-mill quotes that barely show up on my radar. Last night, however, when the mic was put in front of Tebow, the first words out of his mouth were, "I first want to thank my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ."
Tebow then went on to thank his O-Line, the staff, and his teammates. Specifically, he wanted to thank them for believing. "If you believe," Tebow said, "then unbelievable things can sometimes be possible."**
What's amazing, however, is not so much the game (which WAS amazing), but the amount of hate and discontent the Broncos quarterback has generated. Check any sports forum and you'll find an insane number heated arguments about how awful/wonderful Tebow is/is not. Bring his name up at the water cooler and watch as people get into it.
The guy has even been the source of his own Internet meme: Tebowing.
Toss that word in your favorite search engine and you'll find thousand of similar images. Some of my favs include:
So here's the question I have for The Universe: Why the hate? Sure, it's easy to poke fun at a guy who is open about his faith and trust me, I get it why people don't like the way he plays ball. His QB skills are random and wild, but you can't argue with three overtime wins this year. More important, you can't argue with the fact that he continually gives credit to everyone but himself. In almost every post-game interview, Tebow has talked about the quality of his teammates, the great plays others have made, and the power of believing that the impossible isn't.
And maybe that's the reason.
In the recent Muppet movie, the cast is confronted by The Big Bad Guy who says that essentially, their G-Rated, goody-too-shoes humor no longer has a place in a bitter, cynical world. Perhaps Tebow is experiencing the same thing. Maybe we've become so accustomed to celebrities paying rent in rehab (or filing for divorce after 72 days), politicians acting like total idiots on camera, and people generally operating like selfish, intolerant d-bags, that we automatically assume someone with a different attitude is just playing us. And who knows: maybe Tebow really is a tool and just playing a role because it makes him stand out.
But what if he's not? What then?
Again, the guy thanked everyone and not once did he take credit for the win. Sure, he had some amazing plays, but credit should go (and rightfully has gone) to Barber for his two flubs. More important, credit goes to Matt Prater who's two field goals tied and then ultimately won the game in OT.
Yet the media seems focused solely on Tim.
Yes, Tebow is open about his faith, but it seems to be more than just his Christianity. He had faith that his team could come back. He believed they wouldn't stop fighting. But to win, the Broncos needed a lot of miracles to happen. And you know what? They did. Barber flubbed twice, both at critical junctions. Receivers caught balls when they needed to. Prater sliced the uprights on record field goals. Tebow's belief that the impossible could happen turned out to be warranted.
To quote the pastor of our church during every sermon: "This brings us to the 'So What?' What should I take away from all this?'"
We're writers, or at least trying to be writers. We operate in a world where the odds are distinctly not in our favor. We spend hours, days, and even years polishing a story knowing that it may never see print because it's not the right genre, not the right agent, or not the right time. We work, sweat, and cry to create something that, in all likelihood, will never wind up on a bookshelf.
Between our own doubts and external obstacles, it's easy to become bitter and cynical, to assume that we're never going to amount to anything, so we might as well quit. Yet we continue to write, continue to query, and continue to hope.
Because we believe. We believe that the odds don't matter, that there may be a window of opportunity just around the corner. We have faith that, despite the stacks upon stacks of rejection letters, an agent, editor, or publisher will feel the same way about our story that we do. We continue to fight because we refuse to believe that we are just wasting our time.
Ultimately, our success or failure depends on a great many factors. It starts with a story that is polished to a shine, but it also requires that story finding its way to the right person at the right time. Some of that is luck, but the vast majority of it is tenacity, determination, and a little Tebow-level belief that we can do it.
And maybe, against all odds, it'll actually happen.
*For those doing the math, that's 110 yards. Kicking! Ironically, more yards than Barber had on the ground.
**Quote courtesty of http://www.cbssports.com/nfl/gametracker/recap/NFL_20111211_CHI@DEN/tebow-rallies-broncos-past-bears-in-ot
***Image courtesy of: http://www.google.com/imgres?q=tebowing&hl=en&safe=active&biw=1054&bih=638&gbv=2&tbm=isch&tbnid=Tbes68-KbRZCwM:&imgrefurl=http://www.benchedpress.com/2011/10/httpwwwbloggercomimgblankgif.html&docid=hfV2wwkOE1TobM&imgurl=http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-YVcYu5UhXlM/TqnlPH7EwbI/AAAAAAAAAds/ZtOba4670xM/s1600/tim%25252Btebow%25252Btebowing.jpg&w=422&h=594&ei=wwXmTpO6OuGJ0QHS0OjtBQ&zoom=1 (wow. that's a long one).
****Image courtesy of: http://www.google.com/imgres?q=tebowing&hl=en&safe=active&biw=1054&bih=638&gbv=2&tbm=isch&tbnid=sKmT3J7nf-DDcM:&imgrefurl=http://tebowing.com/&docid=lKHa7J7rkDBBlM&itg=1&imgurl=http://30.media.tumblr.com/tumblr_lvzwvlCxvl1r5ubj1o1_500.jpg&w=500&h=375&ei=wwXmTpO6OuGJ0QHS0OjtBQ&zoom=1
*****Image courtesy of: http://www.google.com/imgres?q=tebowing&hl=en&safe=active&biw=1054&bih=638&gbv=2&tbm=isch&tbnid=-2epgJgEK5HgcM:&imgrefurl=http://tebowing.com/&docid=lKHa7J7rkDBBlM&itg=1&imgurl=http://24.media.tumblr.com/tumblr_lw030ynpfh1r5ubj1o1_500.jpg&w=500&h=375&ei=wwXmTpO6OuGJ0QHS0OjtBQ&zoom=1