Peyton Manning is in and Tim Tebow is (apparently) out. That’s the news coming out of Denver, as the Broncos front office, led by former NFL quarterback John Elway, has lured the legendary quarterback Peyton Manning into their lineup. They will now send the promising Tim Tebow either to the bench or to another team. Supporters of this decision point to the greatness of Peyton Manning as well as Tebow’s less-than-stellar passing accuracy. Opponents of the decision (like me) point to the fact that Manning is coming off a major injury and several operations — something that kept him on the sidelines all last season. This makes the decision to bring in Manning a gamble at best. We likewise point to the fact that Tebow is a proven winner. Say what you will about his passing accuracy, the man can win football games. He took over as quarterback when the Broncos were 1-4 and led them into the playoffs.
There’s an old saying: “Stick with the one that brung ya.” Tebow is the workhorse that turned the Broncos around in the 2011 season and took them to the playoffs. He is a consummate student of the game and a relentless workaholic. He is a strong leader with solid character and a dedicated fan base that any NFL team should appreciate. An amazing athlete, Tebow has a bright future. He will get better in the areas he’s lacking. Barring some unforeseen tragedy, injury, or psychological setback (like a team he’s loyal to not being loyal to him), Tebow has all the makings of becoming a Hall of Fame quarterback himself one day. The Broncos had every reason to build their team around Tebow for the next few years and ride the “Tebow wave” back into the playoffs again and again. But rather than think long-term and invest a player that’s worth cheering for, they’ve chosen to chase the dream of instant gratification with Peyton Manning.
I understand that football is a business, and I understand that it’s tough to pass up on an opportunity to bring someone like Peyton Manning into your organization. What I object to is the way this is all being handled. One gets the impression that John Elway and Co. were never comfortable with Tim Tebow. They never really liked him. Is it his Christian faith? his high moral character? his solid work ethic? or the fact that legions of fans adore him, hungry for a sports role model they can believe in? Which of those things made Elway wince when Tebow would score a touchdown and do his “Tebow” thing to thunderous crowd approval?
Why is it that NFL teams are quick to support players with criminal records, off-the-field antics, brazen showmanship, and horrible morals, yet (at least in this case) are uncomfortable with a player that any kid in America should strive to emulate?
I understand the desire on the part of NFL front offices to put a winning team on the field. I get that. But, speaking as a fan, I feel we’ve lost something with the NFL. We’ve lost the “why.” Are we just supposed to root for teams that win? Is winning in-and-of-itself the end-all, be-all of which team to which we give our support? Do we want fans bouncing from team to team chasing the “winner” just as players now bounce from team to team chasing the money? If that’s what the NFL is now all about, count me out. I want to root for a team that’s worth rooting for — a team that supports its community and that has players who serve as true role models for the people in that community, especially its youngest citizens. I want a team with heart and a team with character, a team that’s proud (in a healthy way) to celebrate an honorable man like Tim Tebow.
We’re talking about a guy who invests his free time into charity work and helping those who need a helping hand. He’s raised money for numerous worthy causes, including pediatric cancer treatment, a children’s hospital in the Philippines, playrooms in children’s hospitals around the world, and sending disadvantaged kids on a Disney vacation. While some athletes spend their time gambling, boozing, doing drugs, sleeping around, partying at drunken orgies, committing felonies, or more, Tebow spends his with disabled children and veterans, prisoners who need a second change, and poor kids who need hope and encouragement. Please tell me why I shouldn’t believe in an athlete like that!? We’re talking about a guy who takes his status as a role model seriously and who cultivates that opportunity to serve and help as many people as he can. This is a guy worth believing in, and any team who is loyal to him is likewise a team worth believing in and cheering for.
Tim, keep your head high. You may not have the respect of greedy men like John Elway, but you have won the hearts of many football fans like me, who understand there’s more to life than getting a football across the goal line or cashing in on ticket sales. Hang in there. I’m praying for you, and I know God will bless you!