(Photo: Reuters/Adam Hunger)
Like it has been for much of Tim Tebow's career, it was all about the numbers heading into the N.Y. Jets game against the Houston Texans on the 666th edition of Monday Night Football.
"Looking forward to giving God all the glory in tonight's 666th Monday Night Football game. Romans 8:37-39," Tebow tweeted Monday morning.
Once again, as has happened many times before, the sports media turned to talk of Bible scripture and faith as the result of something Tebow said or posted.
USA Today sports writer Chris Chase went so far as to use Tebow's "666" reference to begin his article with the Bible verse Revelation 13:18. "This calls for wisdom: let the one who has understanding calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man, and his number is 666," Chase quoted from the English Standard translation.
"I'm down with Tebow's religious beliefs and appreciate that he uses his forum to promote them, but I'm not sure what he was going for here," wrote Chase. "Does playing in a game number that's identical to the mark of the beast worry him? Or is anything with the number 666 a good way to promote his faith?"
Tebow has taken to Twitter to post gameday scripture because he is not allowed to inscribe verses on eye black strips as he did in his college days.
The verses he referenced in his tweet (and also quoted in sports articles on Monday) read, "No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord."
The athlete evangelist did not start the game verses the Texans in spite of increasing speculation as to when Tebow would replace the Jets starting quarterback Mark Sanchez, who has struggled. Tebow did see limited action on the field in the Jets 23-17 loss to Houston, dropping the team's record to 2-3.
On Sunday, in another story on Tebow and numbers, ESPN.com posted a list of statistics that compare the Jets first four games this season with the Denver Broncos first four games in 2011 when Tebow replaced starter Kyle Orton. The numbers are remarkably similar.
"Through the first four games of 2011, Orton averaged 6.32 yards per pass. Through the first four games this year, Sanchez is averaging 6.35 yards per pass," said Michael Smith in the ESPN.com video.
Other striking similarities include the Jets offense rushing for 346 yards and the 2011 Broncos rushing for 347 yards through the first four games. The Jets allowed 109 points in those games and Denver had allowed 111 points in the same amount of games last year.
In the first four games, the Jets have scored 81 points. While, the Orton-led Broncos also scored just 81 points.
"Maybe the Jets shouldn't waste any more time in starting Tim Tebow," Smith said. "I'm not telling them they should. I'm just saying."
Last year, after Tebow racked up 316 yards passing in the Broncos' NFL playoff win over the Pittsburgh Steelers, there were millions of searches on Google for "John 3 16."
On the Monday after the playoff game, the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association launched a special "John 3:16" page on its website. That week, hundreds of people made decisions to accept Jesus Christ after visiting the webpage.