The second coming of Tim Tebow

Tim Tebow in action with the Denver Broncos against the Kansas City Chiefs in January of 2012. Photograph by Jeffrey Beall.

Tim Tebow in action with the Denver Broncos against the Kansas City Chiefs in January of 2012. Photograph by Jeffrey Beall.

Lightning-rod former quarterback-turned-commentator Tim Tebow is back in the NFL with the Philadelphia Eagles. Let the snark commence.

“Why the Hell is (Eagles’ head coach) Chip Kelly signing Tim Tebow?” Drew Magary opined on Deadspin. 

He went on to list some “working theories” – all of them unkind, some of them funny as Hades, although calling Tebow a “Jesus loon” is beyond the pale. Why drag Jesus into it?

Perhaps because where Tebow is concerned, fans don’t know where sports leave off and religion begins. He – and we – are all of a piece, the product of our entire experience. Tebow happens to be a devout Christian who wears his devotion on his football sleeve. He has also been a highly successful if unorthodox quarterback. Those two things rub many fans the wrong way and blind them to the idea that some people succeed seemingly in spite of themselves, because they bring intangibles to the game, like character and great leadership.

But his unorthodoxy as a running quarterback with a peculiar throwing motion and his Christian fervor are precisely what many love about Tebow. Still, they in turn may also be blinded – to the notion that the response to Tebow, particularly by the media, is disproportionate to his NFL accomplishments.

I say that’s not Tebow’s fault. I say that the guy took the Denver Broncos all the way to the playoffs despite bosses who had no faith in him. (That means you, John Elway.) I say he was never given a chance with the New York Jets by then-head coach Rex Ryan. (How funny is it that Tebow will be reunited on the Eagles with ex-Jet QB Mark Sanchez.)  

I say the gridiron, like the Lord, works in mysterious ways and that not everyone can be Peyton Manning or Tom Brady. (Should it surprise anyone that the snark for Tebow was immediately followed by dumping on Colin Kaepernick? Why must everyone come out of a cookie cutter? Why can’t these guys be themselves?)

Because they threaten the male establishment, never the most flexible of groups, which only has room in its pea-size heart for a winner who wins the way it wants.  

In “The Penalty for Holding,” the upcoming second novel in my series “The Games Men Play,” backup-turned-star Quinn Novak is an unorthodox running QB who turns the hapless New York Templars around. And yet it still isn’t enough – for his sadistic, bigoted coach; the press, the fans, even his own family. Here’s the secret:  It will never be enough. That’s why you have to please yourself.

Tebow will never please all of the people all of the time. He may not even please some of the people some of the time. But he may be just what the murderous, wife-beating, child-abusing NFL needs.

And that pleases me no end.