I’ve covered a lot of bizarre things, but perhaps none more Bizarre than Tim Tebow. He is bizarre in that he seems absolutely, 100%, without-a-doubt genuine. This would not be such a big deal if he was a freak or a deviant, because genuinely-freaky people are easy to find. No, Tim Tebow appears to be genuinely good. He appears to practice what he preaches:
Remember last week, when the world was pulling its hair out in the hour after Tebow had stunned the Pittsburgh Steelers with an 80-yard OT touchdown pass to Demaryius Thomas in the playoffs? And Twitter was exploding with 9,420 tweets about Tebow per second? When an ESPN poll was naming him the most popular athlete in America?
Tebow was spending that hour talking to 16-year-old Bailey Knaub about her 73 surgeries so far and what TV shows she likes…
Even though sometimes-fatal Wegener’s granulomatosis has left Bailey with only one lung, the attention took her breath away.
“It was the best day of my life,” she emailed. “It was a bright star among very gloomy and difficult days. Tim Tebow gave me the greatest gift I could ever imagine. He gave me the strength for the future. I know now that I can face any obstacle placed in front of me. Tim taught me to never give up because at the end of the day, today might seem bleak but it can’t rain forever and tomorrow is a new day, with new promises.”
I read that email to Tebow, and he was honestly floored.
“Why me? Why should I inspire her?” he said. “I just don’t feel, I don’t know, adequate. Really, hearing her story inspires me.”
What makes the Tim Tebow phenomenon so interesting isn’t his on-field play, the off-field altruism, or the fans—but the hatred he often inspires from his detractors. If Tebow is as good of a person as he seems, his critics must do whatever they can to diminish his success; good people in the limelight remind us how flawed the rest of us are. Good people on center stage force us to become better people, or to become bitter and angry as denial becomes more difficult.
No matter what happens to Tim Tebow from here on out, no one can take away the cultural impact he’s already had. Millions of people have already been affected by him. How many people have read John 3:16? How many people have reexamined their own life and made calibrations based on the example Tebow has set? How many people have looked at his humble responses and selfless service and turned over a new leaf? It’s amazing when you step back and think about it.
Everyone loves a winner, and it will be fascinating to see the cultural impact that occurs if an openly unapologetic Christian man is able to have sustained success playing America’s most popular sport. Because nature always seeks to create a balance, a star that burns so strong and so bright for good will certainly bring out the worst in others. Nothing would bring greater joy to Tebow’s critics than to bring him down with his own discharged gun still smoking with hypocrisy. Sadly, the odds of this happening are good, since all of us are flawed. All of us are fallible. All of us have moments of weakness. That’s why this blog exists. But if Tim Tebow is the outlier we’ve been waiting for, and he’s able to avoid the kind of public slip-up so many of us are prone to, it will be something special indeed.
I don’t often root for too many people, but I’m rooting for Tim Tebow.