The Tebow question

Football, religion at heart of debate surrounding Broncos star

Okay, it sounds straightforward enough. The Denver Broncos were once 1-4, boring and irrelevant. Then it turned things around, winning six of seven to give itself a shot at the AFC West title in the closing stretch.

A strong running game with a resurgent Willis McGahee had something to do with it. So did stout defense. So did a sound kicking game, and so did the hard work and discipline instilled by new head coach John Fox, who engineered a similar feat at his previous gig in Carolina.

Oh yeah, and that quarterback part.

It isn’t a stretch to state that Tim Tebow has turned into the most debated figure in American sports. Depending on who you listen to, either he’s an inspiring leader whose Christian faith and devotion contributes to his on-field success, or he’s a religious zealot that ought to stick to football and shouldn’t try to convert anyone.

What further complicates matters is the cacophony of analysis surrounding Tebow as a player. Either he’s the prime reason Denver is contending, with so many late-game comebacks and clutch drives, or he’s a liability and bad fit and ought to be looking for another job (or another profession) instead of infecting the NFL waters.

None of the above is completely true, and a lot of this is downright silly. What isn’t in dispute, though, is that Tebow’s overt Christian faith colors the way he is critiqued. And that’s not entirely fair.

Really, you have to go all the way back to his high school days. With the missionary work he and his family have done in places like the Philippines, Tebow had all sorts of notoriety even before he stepped on the Florida campus.

His work in Gainesville only made things worse. Florida won two national titles, and Tebow claimed a Heisman. He was, without a dispute, a great college player, but as that took place, the anti-Tebow sentiment escalated, and not just in SEC circles.

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