Editorial: A divine victory

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, January 10, 2012

The results are in, and once again, the outcome vexed the experts. Television’s talking heads were stunned. Even stoic New Englanders have to be a little worried.
Tim Tebow pulled off another nail-biting victory.
What, you thought this was going to be navel-gazing analysis about the New Hampshire primary? Who can concentrate on politics when the NFL playoffs are under way, and Tebow and his Denver Broncos just brought the mighty Pittsburgh Steelers to their knees?
OK, maybe the Steelers aren’t so mighty these days, what with quarterback Ben Roethlisberger hobbling along like Captain Ahab. Even so, Denver’s overtime victory against Pittsburgh has reignited Tebow-mania, inspiring references to the “mile high miracle” and reinvigorating the debate about Tebow’s public protestations of faith and the degree to which religion and sports should be commingled.
This discussion long ago migrated from the sports page to the water cooler, the editorial page and beyond.
For instance, here’s an excerpt from a Monday editorial in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:
“Let us suppose that Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow really does have a hot line to heaven. How else to explain how a quarterback who is considered a poor passer managed to complete four passes over 50 yards in Sunday’s playoff victory against the Steelers in Denver — and this against the National Football’s League’s No. 1 ranked defense … How else to explain how Mr. Tebow passed for exactly 316 yards, the very Biblical quotation (John 3:16) that has often been seen on signs held up by would-be evangelists in sporting stadiums so as to catch the eye of TV cameras for the possible conversion of America’s couch potatoes?”
The Baltimore Sun also dipped into Tebow’s playbook, in an editorial headlined “Tebow Wars: Give it a rest”:
“By all accounts he has been an inspirational presence in the locker room and appears to live an immaculate private life … nothing Mr. Tebow has done or said warrants making him a central battleground in the culture wars. He is not a hypocrite, and he is not a political leader trying to legislate his private morality.”
Exactly. Tebow is hardly the first athlete to offer public utterances about his faith, and his quietly taking a knee and bowing his head seems infinitely preferable to the bad choreography that often accompanies TDs. Athletes can prance but not pray? Endorse Wheaties but not their faith?
The irony is that the Tebow controversy erupted as a much darker sports story was playing out at Penn State. In an era when celebrity athletes and coaches are reviled for bad behavior, Tebow projects an attitude of humility, sincerity and turn-the-other cheek forgiveness that others might well emulate. We make no predictions regarding Denver’s prospects against the New England Patriots. But Tebow has proved one thing to his doubters: Never say he doesn’t have a prayer.