Editorial: God, faith and the Wildcat offense

Dan Barton.

You know, I’m beginning to believe maybe there’s something to this 2012 stuff after all. How else to explain the arrival in Sodom of the Lord’s own quarterback, Tim Tebow, to the New York Jets?

Actually, there are two explanations not linked to apocalypse prophecies: one, the Jets plan to go all-in on the Wildcat. (For the uninitiated, that’s a variant of the regular football offense where more than one person might, or might not, pass the ball, or run the ball, or both. It’s designed to fool the defense. Sometimes it does.) Two, the Jets brought in the most buzz-inducing player in the NFL to regain the publicity initiative from the Giants, who, without hardly any bloviating and relatively little scandal, won the Super Bowl.

OK, now that the technical stuff is out of the way, we can talk about the way Tebow, uniquely it seems, gets people riled up over religion. The guy’s a Christian — he’s up-front about it, does kind of a praying thing on the field sometimes, advocates his beliefs in a moderate and humble manner.

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And it drives a lot of people completely up the wall. Whether with scorn or humor, many of us (including myself, it seems) can’t help themselves from seeing the guy through the lens of his religion. As soon as it was revealed, his trade to the Jets, the Internet fairly wet itself with Tebow parodies, comments, joke images — the Jets logo with a crucifix for the “T” for instance — and criticism. Just about every Tebow headline in the tabloids was a play on something having to do with religion.

I have to wonder if this would happen with a player who was a devout anything-but-Christian, and to put a finer point on it, anything-but-evangelical/pro-life Christian? I just can’t believe a devout Jewish athlete or a Muslim athlete or a Buddhist athlete or even a Catholic athlete would be so defined by others by his faith in the way Tebow is, even if they put that faith out there like Tebow has.

The Tebow furor proves that we are, as a people, still passionate about religion, and not always in a positive way. Maybe it’s the intolerant attitude towards women’s rights and the beliefs of others that evangelical Christianity has, you have to say, well earned over the last few years. (I mean, really, how are you supposed to deal with someone who tells you if you do not share their interpretation of ancient writings, you will spend eternity in a lake of fire? That’s harsh, man. Real harsh. And if you have a uterus, wo, watch out. You are, apparently, automatically a second-class citizen who can’t be trusted to manage her own innards or her own life.) There are plenty of people who don’t believe in any sort of god at all, and earnestly desire to not have beliefs driven but what they see as imaginary mythological figures influence their lives in any way. (Good luck with that, BTW. This ain’tEurope.) Those people must be going nuts; good thing Bill Maher is a Giants fan. Then there are those of us, like me, who have faith but feel it’s an intensely personal journey and wouldn’t think of even asking, much less making, anyone else see the universe the same way we do.

So, it’s ironic, and perhaps prophetic, that someone who embodies — whether he likes it or not or sees that way or not — a rigid and traditional way of thinking is going right to the heart of un-rigid and non-traditional ways of thinking. How both Tebow and the greater New York metropolitan area cope with this collision will be fascinating to watch. There’s no place like the city to expand one’s horizons.

I, for one, would like to see Tebow get a pass (pardon the pun) for his religion. Really, it’s not that big of a deal and has blown right past the point of obsessive and is now on the outskirts of offensive. Let the kid do his job and evaluate him by the points he puts up on the scoreboard. No Jets fan is going to be dragged to the baptismal font, even if they make Tebow the starting QB. Even if they win the Super Bowl. Tolerance works both ways; or put another way, judge not, lest ye be judged.

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