December 17, 2011

Tebow: Heaven sent?

Tim Tebow's faith has played a large role in shaping his confidence on the football field.

By ARNIE STAPLETON The Associated Press

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. - The Gospel and the gridiron are inextricably intertwined in Tim Tebow's world.

Tim Tebow
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Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow isn’t shy about expressing his faith, saying it’s “part of who you are, as a person, as a player, in your life and everything.”

The Associated Press

A FEW FACTS ABOUT TIM TEBOW

Was the first Heisman Trophy winner who was home-schooled

Born in the Philippines on Aug. 14, 1987, where his parents were working as missionaries

The NCAA instituted the "Tebow Rule," banning messages on eye paint for his Bible passages.

In 2009, he stated publicly that he was a virgin and would stay that way until he married.

TODAY'S GAME: Patriots at Broncos, 4:15 p.m., Channel 13

The scrambling quarterback and devout Christian draws as much scrutiny for mixing faith with football as he does for his unconventional winning ways.

With all eyes on the quirky QB who has led the Denver Broncos' remarkable resurgence, Tebow isn't shy about publicly professing his religious beliefs, often ending interviews with a hardy "God Bless!"

He inspired a viral phenomenon known as "Tebowing" when he dropped to a knee in prayerful reflection as his teammates celebrated around him in Miami after the first in a string of six comeback victories.

Raised by missionary parents, Tebow wore Bible verses on his eye black at Florida and still preaches to villagers in the Philippines and inspires inmates during jailhouse talks.

And he's sharing his beliefs with his teammates as enthusiastically as he yells the cadence at the line of scrimmage.

Coach John Fox asked Tebow to give the weekly address to the team on the eve of a game against San Diego last month, and nobody was surprised when Tebow shared Proverbs 27:17 -- "As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another," something Tebow deemed appropriate as offense, defense and special teams feed off one another in what NFL junkies call "complementary football."

Another time, Tebow approached defensive players before a home game against the New York Jets and told them not to fret, God's got this.

"I like his passion," Fox said. "I think in today's world with all that's going on in sport and our society, I think it's wonderful."

Others cringe.

Former Broncos quarterback Jake Plummer said he likes Tebow but would like him a lot more if he would quit reminding everybody how much he loves Jesus Christ.

No way, Tebow said, insisting he isn't "just a Christian or a believer at church."

Many an athlete has used his platform as a pulpit.

Chap Clark, a professor at Fuller Theological Seminary, a prominent evangelical school based in California, said Tebow's unorthodox route to success, after so many predicted he would fail as a quarterback, has set him and his faith apart, even from the many other athletes who talk about their religious principles.

"Tim has this ferocity as a competitor, but it's still a game to him. He is consistently saying that football is not the center of life," Clark said. "His great strength is that even people who don't agree with his faith at all play their best around him."

Tebow recently told The Associated Press that he knows his openness about his religion can be divisive, but he feels compelled to share his story of salvation regardless of the sensitivity of the subject, and he relayed one of his favorite quotes: "I don't know what my future holds, but I know who holds my future," in showing how he leans on his faith so he can focus on football unencumbered by others' opinions.

"To get me through? Without a doubt, 100 percent," Tebow said. "And that's the thing about my faith: It's not just something that happens when you're at church or happens when you're praying or reading the Scripture. It's part of who you are, as a person, as a player, in your life and everything."

Teammate Brian Dawkins, who's equally enthusiastic about sharing his Christianity, said he can't fathom why anyone would have a problem with somebody invoking his right to free speech or freedom of religion.

"He doesn't pull up a pulpit in the middle of the locker room and say, 'Hey, everybody, gather 'round, let me tell you something.' That's not how this thing works," Dawkins said. "It's individual. If someone asks a question, we'll share our faith and our testimony.

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