- (Photo: Reuters/Eric Miller)
With Tim Tebow leading the charge of unabashedly Christian athletes in sports, it is important to note that there are many others proclaiming Christ to their fans and teammates.
Tebow has become an inspirational leader for his Denver Broncos as he has rallied the team back from the brink of failure countless times each week. Even more inspirational is his persistence to give God the glory at every opportunity possible.
However, Tebow has been under fire by fellow NFL players and football commentators for speaking out too much about his faith. Regardless, these comments have not faltered Tebow’s unyielding faith.
He stated, "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?"
"So any time I get an opportunity to tell Him that I love Him or given an opportunity to shout Him out on national TV, I'm gonna take that opportunity," Tebow explained.
Fellow outspoken Christian and recently retired Quarterback, Kurt Warner had some words of advice for the young star concerning faith.
"I'd tell him (Tebow), 'Put down the boldness in regards to the words, and keep living the way you're living,’" Warner said to the Arizona Republic. "Let your teammates do the talking for you. Let them cheer on your testimony."
According to The Post Game, Warner feels Tebow's outward profession of Christianity might be having an adverse effect to the people he is trying to reach.
"There's almost a faith cliche, where (athletes) come out and say, 'I want to thank my Lord and savior.' As soon as you say that, the guard goes up, the walls go up, and I came to realize you have to be more strategic," Warner said.
"The greatest impact you can have on people is never what you say, but how you live. When you speak and represent the person of Jesus Christ in all actions of your life, people are drawn to that. You set the standard with your actions. The words can come after."
Warner is also famous for his post game interviews where he would always thank the Lord for his victories and give Him glory.
Upon winning his first Super Bowl in 1999, he had a conversation with Mike Trico of ABC. "Kurt, first things first - tell me about the final touchdown pass to Isaac," asked Trico.
Warner replied, "Well, first things first, I've got to thank my Lord and Savior up above - thank you, Jesus!"
Another big time Christian football player is Troy Polamalu.
ThePostGame.com said he became an Orthodox Christian in college after spending four days living with monks in a Greek monastery. "Football is part of my life but not life itself,” Polamalu said. “Football doesn’t define me. It’s what I do [and] how I carry out my faith.”
He continued, “It can lead to resentment, and that is not what you want. There is also a sense of arrogance sometimes when people are really hearty, evangelizers, and that is opposite of what faith is. Like, ‘I know this better than you.’ There are a lot of pitfalls to that."
Baseball player Mariano Rivera, a 17 year MLB veteran, is a professed born again Christian and has enjoyed immense success in his career with the Yankees, which he attributes all to God.
The ball player also frequently speaks at churches and events to young adults and teens, and according to Belief.net has aspirations to become a pastor once he hangs up the cleats.
Rivera has the Bible verse, Philippians 4:13 inscribed into his glove, which reads, "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me."
Fellow baseball player Jake Peavy is also a strong believer.
During the off-season of 2007, Peavy went on a missions trip to the Dominican Republic where he was going to talk to kids about Jesus and baseball. However, he was derailed after being imprisoned at the airport for not moving his vehicle filled with Bibles and supplies.
Basketball star David Robinson was one of the most outspoken Christians the NBA has ever seen.
He has worked with numerous organizations and charities. In 1991 he challenged a 5th grade class to finish school and go to college. He promised any student that did this would get $2000. Years later, keeping his word, he awarded all the children who succeeded the money, except he upped it to $8000.
According to Reuters, Robinson and his wife have donated around $11 million to a school he founded in 2001.
One of the most known Christian basketball players was Pete Maravich, who was even chronicled in a movie called "Pistol," which was his nickname.
Upon finding Jesus after retiring he said, "I want to be remembered as a Christian, a person that serves Him [Jesus] to the utmost, not as a basketball player," according to a biography written about the player.
Maravich retired early from basketball because of knee problems. Sadly, he passed away at the age of 40 while playing a pickup game of basketball with Focus of the Family famous, Pastor James Dobson.
Other Christian athletes of note include: Deion Sanders, Dikembe Mutombo, Orel Herschiser, Andy Pettite, and Jeff Gordon.