Tim Tebow may be performing miracles on par with the miracles performed by Jesus Christ in the Bible, according to an argument posed by a Boston University religious scholar and author.
Stephen Prothero, author of God is Not One: The Eight Rival Religions that Run the World, published a column for CNN on Tuesday that claims the Denver Broncos quarterback, and devout Christian, has a lot in common with Christ.
Prothero calls into question the correlation between Tebow’s physical skills and the results Tebow has produced in just five games this year-a 5-1 record with four straight victories.
Perhaps more impressive is the manner in which Tebow is winning games: moribund offensive output for 50 minutes followed by, well, miraculous game-winning drives in the fourth quarter and overtime.
Because his throwing skills are less like Bronco greats such as John Elway and Jake Plummer and more like an actual bronco, Tebow’s unlikely victories suggest there is something extra to his game.
Tebow has taken a Broncos team that started the season 1-4 and reversed the team’s fortune, pulling within one game of first place in the underwhelming AFC West division.
So how does a quarterback who can’t throw take a 1-4 team to the thick of the playoff hunt, Prothero asks. Running the football for one, Prothero says, but also faith.
Tebow’s feats on the football field compare to Jesus’ biblical feats, the scholar argues.
Prothero said Jesus “turned a ragtag band of 12 apostles into the number one religion in the world” while Tebow “turned a ragtag squad of 11 football players into an NFL juggernaut.”
Tebow “prays a lot (to Jesus),” while Jesus “prayed a lot (to God).”
Jesus miraculously turned water into wine; Tebow miraculously beat the Dolphins, Jets and Chargers in the closing seconds.
Some of Prothero’s comparisons are admittedly in jest, but the scholar argues that the nature of Tebow’s line of work provides a unique platform from which to preach.
The U.S. has two prevailing religions according to Prothero: Christianity and football.
What better platform for Tebow to share his beliefs than the N.F.L., easily the most popular sport in the U.S. And what better age to have that platform than the age of hyper-connectivity and social networking.
Because few gave Tebow a chance in the N.F.L. after an illustrious college career, his current success has been a point of great contention for fans, pundits and ex-players. That contention, Prothero argues, provides the platform for real discussion about Tebow’s faith – and, indeed, the faith of the country.
The more Tebow talks about his faith, the more people will talk about Christianity - whether the talk is positive or negative is inconsequential; the real value is in the conversation.
But two former N.F.L. quarterbacks said recently that Tebow should quiet down about his faith. Their messages differed, however.
Speaking to 102.3 FM in Denver earlier this month, Jake Plummer said he is bothered when athletes thank a higher power after games.
"I can think back to when I was a kid watching sports -- me and my brothers were big sports fans -- it always seemed to trivialize that importance of a relationship of that sort that people had with Jesus Christ or with God,” Plummer said, referring to Tebow’s regular praise of God during interviews and speaking events.
"I am not dissing [Tebow] for his beliefs. He obviously is a good kid. He's got a lot of strong morals and values -- it's just I'll TiVo it and then I'll mute it. I don't have to hear it. It's our option. We can listen if we want,” Plummer added.
Super Bowl-winning quarterback Kurt Warner issued a similar warning, but said his concern was based out of a similar situation he’d found himself in during his career.
“You can't help but cheer for a guy like that," Warner told the Arizona Republic. "But I'd tell him, 'Put down the boldness in regards to the words, and keep living the way you're living. Let your teammates do the talking for you. Let them cheer on your testimony.'
“I know what he's going through,” Warner continued, “and I know what he wants to accomplish, but I don't want anybody to become calloused toward Tim because they don't understand him, or are not fully aware of who he is. And you're starting to see that a little bit.”
Tebow offered the example on ESPN’s First Take that his relationship with Jesus is like a man’s relationship with a wife.
“If you're married, and you have a wife, and you really love your wife, is it good enough to only say to your wife 'I love her' the day you get married? Or should you tell her every single day when you wake up and every opportunity?” Tebow said.
“People would get tired of hearing that too," Plummer replied in a later interview. "Even my wife would get sick of hearing that.”
Jesus had dissenters, those who didn’t believe and those who tried to stifle his words. Tebow has haters, critics and Raiders fans.
At least this much is true: sports coverage is one area in which hyperbole runs rampant. Perhaps judgment should be reserved on Prothero’s claim until we see Jesus run the power option.