A Denver Bronco's fan has caused quite a stir in the sports world over a photo in which he appears to be wearing Tim Tebow's number 15 jersey, but, where Tebow's name would usually be, the shirt instead reads “Jesus.”
The “Jesus Jersey,” as it's come to be known, has drawn sharp criticism from some sports bloggers.
“Weed against Speed,” a pseudonym for a blogger from the Sportress of Blogitude website, sarcastically writes that it's a “total surprise” that a Tebow fan would create a custom jersey like that.
“And if you ask me, maybe a bit sacrilegious,” the blogger writes. “But hey, I’m no theologian, so what does my opinion matter?”
Rodger Oswald, founder and president of Church Sports International (CSI), told The Christian Post that it's no surprise the photo is stirring up controversy.
"There's no doubt there are some who are going to see this as frivolous, that they're taking the sacred name of Jesus and attaching it to a mere football jersey. So there are some that are going to be offended,” he said.
Oswald started CSI in 1992 to help churches and ministries utilize sports as a medium for sharing the Gospel.
He doesn't see a problem with the jersey, though. For Oswald, crossing the line is “when people inappropriately take scripture out of context to support the theory that God is a defender of a particular team or athlete.”
He also says that “secular media” has a problem with the jersey because they see players like Tebow as athletes first, and Christians second.
“So when they won't give us the prerogative, then they're always going to be questioning what we're doing in integrating our faith with what we do,” he said.
Robert Littal, a blogger for Black Sports Online, is more critical of Tebow's fans and his playing ability than the jersey itself, saying it should read “Backup Jesus” instead.
“I think people take my making fun of Tebow to mean I don’t like him which is untrue,” Littal writes. “It is more about me making fun of the people who worship him like he is Zeus.”
Bob Enyart, a Denver-area pastor and 20 year radio talk-show host, says that the jersey shouldn't even be an issue.
"God has given us no latitude whatsoever when it comes to morality principles,” Enyart told the CP, “but He's given us tremendous latitude when it comes to creativity and style...it is hyper-judgmental and hyper-critical to make an issue out of this guy's message."
In his first outing this year, in a pre-season game against the Dallas Cowboys, Tebow went 6-7 on pass attempts for 91 total yards gained. The other quarterbacks on the team, Kyle Orton and Brady Quinn, went 2-6 and 8-14 passing, respectively. Quinn was the only Bronco quarterback to throw a touchdown in the game.
View the controversial “Jesus Jersey” at SportsPickle.com.