Now that I’m a long-time resident in Denver, Colorado (actually, April 1 will be four months), I see how rabid the sports fans are—especially Bronco fans. For those of you who are international readers, the Denver Broncos are a professional American football team with a very rich history and a dedicated fan base.
Last fall, we were swept away by Tebow-mania, which circled around their quarterback Tim Tebow. After Kyle Orton led the Broncos to a 1-4 start, the fans were shouting for Tebow, even though Tebow was third (and by some accounts fourth on the depth chart). He was drafted in the 1st round in 2010, so they had to see what they had. He led the Broncos the last 11 games of the season, winning seven of them in the most unorthodox way imaginable. He would lead them to the most heart-stopping of last minute victories—all the while being an average to below average quarterback statistically (his completion perceptage—49%—was 34th in the NFL—even though the NFL has only 32 teams).
But Tebow is a strong, unashamed follower of Christ—which makes him a polarizing figure. For those of us who are believers, we have to work to separate the Christian man from the football player. Personally, I love his work ethic and devotion to the game—but still have questions as to whether he can be a dependable quarterback.
Last fall, Tebow’s heroics on the field made him the go-to guy for sports programming, and it even bled over into the New York Times and other non-sports periodicals and websites. And since Tim’s Christianity is so much a part of him, discussing this aspect of his person was unavoidable.
From Tebow-Mania to Manning Watch
After the season ended with a trouncing of the Broncos at the Super Bowl runner-up New England Patriots, the scrutiny elevated. “Would Tebow really be the starter next year?” “Can they make it to the Super Bowl with him at quarterback?” “Will the Broncos try to go after a veteran, or draft a QB in the late rounds?”
Then, on March 8, news came across the wire:
Peyton Manning, arguably the best quarterback of this generation, if not ever, would be released by the Indianapolis Colts and become a free agent. Teams were calling, not the least of which? You guessed it, the Denver Broncos.
When Manning visited Denver on Friday, you would have thought it was a head of state. He spent six hours at the Bronco compound talking with John Elway, President of Football Operations with the Broncos (and a pretty good quarterback to say the least for those same Broncos), and John Fox, the head coach.
The radio talk shows blew up here. Everyone wants Manning (four neck operations in 19 months notwithstanding). Even the Tebow apologists want Manning, so Tebow could sit back and learn from him—that is, if Tebow is not traded in the aftermath.
As of today (March 16), he has talked to four teams (Denver, Arizona, Miami, and Tennessee). Bronco management is flying to Durham, NC to talk further with Manning. The drama just continues to unfold.
A Test of Tebow’s Authenticity as a Believer
When Tebow was having success on the field, his Christianity was on full display. He has always said that while he loves football, it’s just a game and he has that perspective. His Christian faith was on full display during the good times.
But it’s in the midst of trials and suffering that the authenticity of one’s Christian faith is put on its most striking display.
Even the most skeptical of sportswriters (Rick Reilly) are amazed at the genuineness of Tebow.
So Tim, I see that same genuineness that Reilly does and that same grounded nature that God calls us as Christians to have. And it’s in this time when Bronco Nation is fawning over Peyton Manning coming here that you need to show the world that Christ is truly #1 in your life, not being quarterback of the Denver Broncos.
In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus uttered these words:
11 “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. 12 Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
Not being quarterback of the Denver Broncos is not the reviling or persecution meant here—to be sure. But in regards to your surrender to Christ, folks will have all sorts of false utterances of evil spoken against you because of Christ.
I beg you, even in the midst of Manning Watch, keep Christ clearly and consistently in front. Show the genuineness and authenticity of your faith not simply after a win, but even when the team you love playing for is sending signals that you are not the man.
It is in the darkness of the valley that Christ’s light needs to shine brightest.