Tebowing: (verb) to get down on a knee and start praying, even if everyone else around you is doing something completely different.
In its nearly hundred-year existence, the National Football League has suffered no lack of controversial athletes. Recent favorites include Michael Vick, who served jail time for his involvement with an illegal dog-fighting operation; Plaxico Burress, who somehow managed to shoot himself in the leg with his own illegal handgun at a nightclub; and several others. The NFL is full of players that people either love, or love to hate. This year the new kid on the chopping block is the young quarterback of the Denver Broncos, Tim Tebow. And rarely has there been such an unintentionally divisive figure.
By his own admission, Tebow has struggled to acclimate his unorthodox game to the pace of the NFL. Since entering the league a year ago, Tebow has endured relentless criticism from analysts who believe he simply isn’t good enough to be a professional quarterback. This Vikings fan knows a thing or two about wanting to see bad football players succeed, and I have found Tebow’s success in the face of all the “haters” to be quite hilarious. His success in spite of his limitations is beside the point, however.
My point is this: it would seem that Tebow is different from your average professional athlete, although he has garnered as much if not more hatred as many of the others. He has been described as a “religious douchebag” by the likes of Bill Maher for such offenses as going on mission trips to the Philippines and painting Bible verses on the charcoal under his eyes during games. He doesn’t curse in the locker room, have sex with lots of women or spend time indulging the fantasies of materialistic thirteen year-olds like a lot of athletes. He even appeared in a Super Bowl TV ad supporting his pro-life stance on abortion, a view largely shaped by the compelling story of his mother who refused to have an abortion while carrying him.
Earlier this season, members of the Detroit Lions openly mocked Tebow by “Tebowing” after tackling him and scoring. “Tebowing,” defined above, became popular as a result of his habit of dropping to one knee and praying during football games. “Tebowing” now has its own website full of people “Tebowing” all over the world, and it has become an iconic joke.
I am forced to conclude that “Tebowing” Tebow is not, in fact, taboo. To “Tebow” is not necessarily to mock Christianity or the act of humbling yourself before God, and it is not even at this point a slight on Tebow himself. He actually finds the “Tebowing” sensation endearing, realizing that while many still “Tebow” in a mocking fashion, others view him as an inspiration.
In a league full of self-aggrandizing egos that obsess over finding the most elaborate way to celebrate their awesomeness, the guy getting the most negative attention is the one humbly engaging in a sincere religious act of thanks. I don’t know what that says about us as fans, but it’s not positive. And while there are aspects of his belief that I don’t subscribe to, and there are more than a few areas he could improve as a football player, why anyone would consciously hope for him to fail is beyond me.