Well, it seemed like only a matter of time that I’d be selecting an athlete as my next target for caricature and, after the playoff game on Sunday afternoon I can’t imagine an athlete more in the spotlight!
Perhaps you saw the Pittsburgh Steelers play the Denver Broncos in the opening round of the AFC playoffs. It ended up being the only close game of the four that took place this past weekend, and was it ever close!
Now, let me come clean right off the bat: I’m not a fan of either the Steelers or the Broncos. My team is the Seattle Seahawks. For years, the Seahawks battled the Broncos in the AFC West and developed a pretty heated rivalry over those years (usually losing out to John Elway, which didn’t make me like Denver any more!). Then, after realignment moved Seattle to the NFC West, they finally made it all the way to Superbowl XL against the Steelers. I don’t know how neutral you were in watching that game, but it’s pretty well excepted that there were a number of very questionable calls by the referees which influenced the outcome of the game — some of them REALLY bad. The Steelers came out with more points and added another Lombardi Trophy to their display case. However, no Seahawk fan will ever concede being clearly beaten by the Steelers and over 60% of the respondents to an ESPN poll felt that the poor officiating had impacted the outcome of the game. In the words of then-coach Mike Holmgren, “We knew it was going to be tough going against the Pittsburgh Steelers. I didn’t know we were going to have to play the guys in the striped shirts as well.” Yea, I’m still holding a grudge and will probably never root for the Steelers….
But now comes a player who has tipped my cheering in favor of one of these teams: Tim Tebow
This game was another chapter in Tebow’s remarkable story. Although he led the Florida Gators to two National Championships and was awarded the Heisman Trophy, he’s never been taken seriously as a pro quarterback. His passing skills are not in line with the typical expectation of an elite NFL QB and, although he’s big, physical, and competitive, most sports reporters have turned up their noses at him. But along came the 2011 season and Tim Tebow’s wining record which brought the Broncos from a 1-4 start to a Wild Card playoff bid. It included a number of come-from-behind wins and the combination of “lucky” plays by Tebow and his team mates. These things have been given all the more attention because of Tebow’s outspoken Christian faith. He regularly prays on the sidelines and gives credit “first and foremost to my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ” at the beginning of every interview.
Well, the overtime win (with an 80-yard touchdown catch and run pass on the first play) was remarkable on it’s own. But then the game stats for Tebow became a bit eerie. The following is from a Yahoo Sports story by By Chris Chase | Shutdown Corner – Mon, Jan 9, 2012 12:21 PM EST:
“The fact that Tebow had 316 yards passing and averaged 31.6 yards per pass in the game didn’t escape notice on Sunday night. Tebow wore “John 3:16” on his eye black in the 2009 BCS Championship game and has since become identified with the famous Bible message. The coincidental stats caused millions of fans to perform Google searches on the Bible passage in the past 24 hours. Here’s one more unbelievable stat: John Ourand of Sports Business Journal reports that the final quarter-hour television rating for the Broncos-Steelers game was, you guessed it, 31.6.”
It’s interesting that Tim has become so polarizing a character. People seem to either love him or hate him. Aside from the evaluation of his athletic skills, a lot of his detractors seem to hate him because of his outspoken faith. The coincidental 316’s in this game only throws gasoline on the fire of their hatred! I wonder if they would be so anti-Tim had he been a devout Buddhist or Muslim…