Posts Tagged Urban Meyer

Religion and Football Don’t Mix

After the messy loss to the Tennessee Titans, I almost gave in and supported the chants of “TE-BOW TE-BOW” that were resonating loudly throughout the greater metro-Denver area. Something happened, though. What happened was the game against the Green Bay Packers. Except for three interceptions against the world champion defense, Kyle Orton was able to move the ball well up and down the field. The Broncos scored three touchdowns on offense, and while his 273 yards are considered mediocre in today’s pass-happy NFL where 350 yards is more the norm than the super-star performance, he had a good day by his standards. Moreover, his coaches and teammates stood behind him even though the Broncos were blown out of the stadium.

In the 4th quarter with the game no longer in doubt, and it wasn’t much of a game after halftime, the fans of Lambeau began that familiar chant heard multiple times here at Mile High “TE-BOW, TE-BOW” and while it would have been the perfect time for John Fox to give in and play him, he chose to remain with his starters. His reasoning made a lot of sense when he said “We need our STARTING quarterback to get experience for us to improve. That’s the idea behind that. He needs to get better in our system.” He spent over a season in Josh McHoodie’s open style of game and now has to adjust back to Fox’s run first, more conservative offense. There were no OTAs, training camp was a joke or a circus depending on which word you more enjoy using, so using a blow out game as a learning experience is the next best thing.

Most Tebow fans are burnt orange with rage at Fox and Elway for not playing Tebow in garbage time. I wish people would understand this—Tebow couldn’t throw the ball in training camp, and outside of one decent pass in a sole pre-season game, he can’t throw it in game situations, either. The ball looks half drunk leaving his hand. He throws it to places his receivers can’t catch it unless they dive. He’d have better success throwing a javelin than a football at the moment. His defensive reads aren’t there. If his first option isn’t available, he either doesn’t know where his secondary and check down reads are or he doesn’t care and just wants to use his “god-given talents” to make the play, and his teammates be damned.

As I sat and amused myself at people calling Fox and Elway every name in the book and then some on ESPN and Facebook in the aftermath of the 49-23 blood bath, something else came apparent. Based on the comments I was reading, while some were indeed Denverites and true Bronco fans, a majority of them posted and acted as if they didn’t know the first thing about either football, the Denver Broncos, or the NFL in general. They talk blindly about leadership and heart and how he’s a champion. How many Super Bowl rings is he wearing? That’s what I thought. When he’s wearing two like his Team President, give me a call.

A few of those outlandish comments from the football illiterate said they learned all they needed to learn about Tebow’s talents entirely from the post-game speech he made following the University of Florida’s loss to Mississippi in 2008. After the game, a distraught Tebow met with the media and gave them the following gem:

To the fans and everybody in Gator nation, I’m sorry. I’m extremely sorry. We were hoping for an undefeated season. That was my goal, something Florida has never done here.

I promise you one thing, a lot of good will come out of this. You will never see any player in the entire country play as hard as I will play the rest of the season. You will never see someone push the rest of the team as hard as I will push everybody the rest of the season.

You will never see a team play harder than we will the rest of the season. God bless.

These amateurs who probably watch the Super Bowl for only the commercials have probably seen video of Tebow and seen the prayers in the eye-black and seen inspirational messages like the above (I have a few choice words for that; keep reading) and read about the missionary work he’s done and believe he walks on water. They know absolutely nothing about the game of football, but their religious zeal gives them absolute confidence that he is the man to lead the Denver Broncos to the Super Bowl. They’ve accused the Bronco front office of keeping him out of games for disingenuous reasons—because they disagree with his religious beliefs. His faith and belief in god are all he needs to be one of, if not the greatest quarterback, in NFL history they falsely claim. Perhaps they haven’t picked up a Bible recently either, or they missed that part where it is taught that God does not care about personal glory or gratification. Just believing is enough for them. I saw too many of these kinds of posts on both ESPN and Facebook to ignore them.

“He’s a good kid”, “He’s always saying the right things” and “He’s got the heart of a champion” are all the same thing. I have nothing against religion. My family comes from the birthplace of the world’s three predominant religions on the planet. I DO have a problem with people using it to push their own personal agendas, even if it goes against the greater good. When people from Kentucky, who have likely never seen a professional football game spend $10,000 to buy the use of a digital billboard to demand Tim be the starting quarterback, it’s no longer for football reasons. It can’t be. Something beyond common sense and sanity are in full force.

Football players since the beginning of the game have knelt in prayer after scoring a touchdown. Players have given grace to God after a great or game-winning performance. I have no issue with these practices. They’re usually personal and don’t aim at pushing an agenda.

Tim Tebow, to these fake believers represents all their hopes and dreams in one 6’3”, 245 pound package; a man not afraid to speak about his faith, not afraid to tell you its importance in his life, and not afraid to attempt to push people into his beliefs. You need to look no further than some of the commercials he has appeared in since turning pro. He has been open about his beliefs about abstinence, about marriage, his missionary work where it is a given he is attempting to convert non-believers. He is 24 years old and has already published his memoirs which delve further into his faith and how it has shaped the person he is today. That, above his athletic talents is why a majority of people posting want him in the game. He is one of them. Or, I should say, they see themselves in him; he has become their false idol. Again, I think there’s something pretty close to the beginning of the Bible that tells people to beware of these.

He is free to have his opinion. He is free to be as devoutly religious as he wants. His supporters enjoy the same right. This is America after all. They even have the right to yell and scream and type their disapproval about his lack of playing time. The issue is, those that are responsible for the other 52 players in the locker room that is Tim’s office, have to do what is in the best interests of the entire team. Those 52 other players are just as important as Tim Tebow to those that run the Denver Broncos and to their true fans. Based on the points that football players are actually judged by, religious beliefs not among them, he is not the best option for the team to win. John Elway and John Fox’s opinions are the only two in the room that matter on that point.

Whatever these football novices may think and want, their words come across as an adult in a  Peanuts special—“wah wah wah wah wah wah” and nothing more. Running back Willis McGahee says it best telling the media after the Green Bay game “Kyle’s our guy. That’s who we’re rolling with. Whoever doesn’t like it, it is what it is. He’s leading the Denver Broncos. He’s running the show. So, I mean, I think everybody just needs to get over it.” He’s right. Kyle Orton is the best quarterback on the roster, period. He has the best statistics. He has the best mechanics. Everything he does on the football field gives the team the best chance of winning every game. They may not be close to beating the World Champions, but the Packers are in a different class than 3/4 of the league right now.

The game is a team effort. Everyone has to do their part to win games. Kyle Orton is doing his. Everyone else has to step up at the same time and do theirs for success to be found. It came together in the win over Cincinnati and was almost there in the close losses to the Raiders and the Titans. It takes the defense not allowing the opposing quarterback to throw for over 400 yards and the offense not turning the ball over four times to a team that good without the extra help. Tim Tebow can’t play corner back, he can’t play defensive line, and he can’t play offensive line to allow Orton time to pass. Until he can do those things or learn to actually play the quarterback position better than Kyle, he and the rest of Tebow-land are going to have to get used to him standing all alone on the sideline with his helmet on like that one kid that the coach won’t play because he stinks. He hasn’t done enough to show his coaches or teammates he’s ready for the big time. He hasn’t shown himself to be the team player they can trust.

He can believe what he wants. He can say what he wants. He has said some right things about the circus he is partly responsible for creating. You’ve probably heard the saying “there’s no ‘I’ in team”. Look back at the quote from the Mississippi game. How many times does he talk about himself? His goal was an undefeated season. Wouldn’t the rest of the team want to go undefeated? It seems the easiest path back to the BCS Championship game. He’s the only player that would work harder the remainder of the season? As much as Urban Meyer may have loved having him, I know there were other guys on that roster. He talks now about improving himself as a quarterback each week. If he is the leader that everyone makes him out to be, even as a backup, he needs to also be working on improving his teammates. He needs to work gaining the respect of that locker room. There’s a reason that every man is behind Kyle Orton. Kyle is all about the team. Look at all the other outside distractions that Tim has from his memoirs to his foundation (by the way, isn’t it a little bit pompous of him to ask the guys renting the billboard to donate that money to his foundation? Last I checked, the Denver Broncos have their own foundation that works with Denver area youth and other charities. If he were a team first guy, he’d have asked the donation to go there instead) to his appearance on The Biggest Loser. When guys were gathering for their training while locked out, Tim was barely present. How do you expect me or any other Bronco fan, or more importantly your teammates, to take you wanting to be the leader and starting quarterback seriously if you’re not willing to put in the extra work, even if it isn’t team-sanctioned?

There are numerous reasons why Tim Tebow is not the starting quarterback of the Denver Broncos. His religious beliefs aren’t one of them. To do so is to make a mockery of both the NFL and the religion that Tim and many others hold dear.

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