I enjoyed watching Tim Tebow last year as he led the Denver Broncos into the playoffs. He was exciting. Generally, I happen to like running quarterbacks -- Michael Vick, Steve Young, RGIII -- as they usually are running when plays have broken down, and they are thus in the open field. Running backs rarely get that kind of open space, at least not lately, and not if your name isn't Adrian Peterson. Something about a quarterback moving through open space when the defense didn't expect it is about the most exciting thing in football. So I liked Tebow as a player. I understand why the Broncos dumped him -- if you get a chance to bring in Peyton Manning, you do it -- but I liked Tebow.
This season has been less fun because Tebow hasn't gotten a chance to play much with the NY Jets as Mark Sanchez' backup, even though Sanchez has been terrible. I wish he had, although I have to defer to football people who say he's simply not as good as Sanchez at the quarterback position. (It may be that Sanchez himself is simply stuck on a truly bad football team with a coach, Rex Ryan, who has outlived his welcome.)
I also always liked the fact that Tebow was an openly devout Christian. He's Christian in a different way than I am, but he's patently a good person who does good works frequently. What's not to like?
So that's why I was somewhat surprised and saddened to see this passage in an otherwise pretty nice sports feature article in the New York Times by a writer who actually seems to like Tebow as a player too. Read this and imagine it being said about any other religion (and particularly imagine whether the Times would publish anything similar about a Muslim):
The show-business aspects of Tebow’s Christianity off the field are mostly a distraction. The virginity, the anti-abortion ad, the praying, the laying on of hands, the Tebowing — a pose in which he drops to one knee in prayer, the imitation of which became a brief Internet sensation — they’re all so many stunts.
Say what? A 25 year-old superstar multi-millionaire male-model handsome quarterback in New York is remaining a virgin until marriage... and that's a "show-business stunt"? Does the writer have any idea how much will power and commitment to faith it would take to resist the temptations that Tebow must face literally every day? Being pro-life... a stunt? Praying... a pose?
This is extraordinarily offensive to Christians. And gratuitous in what otherwise was a pretty nice article.