Wednesday, November 30, 2011
Tim Tebow v. Quarterback X
Tim Tebow this year has a quarterback rating of 80.5, with 8 touchdown passes against only one interception. A running quarterback (one of the two best in the league), he's rushed for 455 yards. Most importantly, the Denver Broncos, a team no one picked to make the playoffs, have won 5 out of 6 games since Tebow took over as starter, including several thrilling late-game comeback victories, and are now firmly in the playoff hunt in the AFC West. Tebow is also a remarkable young man with a character that no one has ever challenged, either on the field or off. He is white.
Quarterback X has a quarterback rating of 79.8, with 11 touchdown passes and, unfortunately, 11 interceptions. The other great running quarterback in the league, he's rushed for 535 yards, albeit in several more starts than Tebow. His team has gone 3-6 in his starts, although they were touted in preseason as a potential Super Bowl team. Quarterback X has also had serious off-field problems in his career, including being suspended from football and spending time in prison. He appears to be rehabilitated, and is to be congratulated for pulling his life together. Quarterback X is black.
Tebow is frequently reviled by sports commentators as not being worthy of being an NFL quarterback.
Quarterback X is a superstar whose story of "redemption" is frequently retold.
Given these facts, and in light of this comparison, I can't help thinking that the only reason Tebow is criticized at this point is that he is perhaps the most prominent Evangelical Christian in pro sports today. Or, more precisely, the most prominent white Evangelical Christian in pro sports today. There are many black Christians who often can be seen after pro football games praying in the middle of the field. Indeed, Quarterback X has openly credited his Christian faith for helping to turn him around after his prison stint . I think he is sincere. But I can't help noting that the mainstream media in America consistently finds it easy to ridicule white Americans for their faith (George W. Bush, Tim Tebow) while giving black Americans a pass or even credit for their faith.
In any event, there is serious, open religious bigotry on display on ESPN and elsewhere nearly every day in reference to Tebow. Here, for instance, is Stephen A. Smith of ESPN (whose commentary I otherwise generally like). You can almost visibly see the disdain he has for Tebow as a person. Where else could this disdain come from?
Newsrooms for decades have shown antipathy toward white Southern Evangelicals in politics; why would sports be any different? They all come from the same J-schools.
Oh, by the way, Quarterback X is Michael Vick of the Philadelphia Eagles, who a few years ago served nearly two years in federal prison for dog-fighting.
Anyway, I'm not sure what all this means. I don't want to put the black hat on Vick and the white hat on Tebow. I happen to like watching both Tebow and Vick play, and while Tebow is an outstanding young man, I also happen to think Vick got something of a raw deal (prison time for dog-fighting). But it is ironic that the only basis for the media's story of redemption for Michael Vick is, in fact, the very Christian faith and forgiveness that the same media ridicules in Tebow.