By all accounts, the Denver Broncos’ victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers yesterday was a lot of things for NFL fans – entertaining, agonizing, frustrating and exciting to name a few – but for sports writers across the country, it was a second Christmas. Tebow earned his first NFL playoff victory by decimating an injury-riddled Steelers defense, posting the second best passer rating of his young career (125.6) and setting a NFL playoff record by averaging 31.6 yards per completion. And it’s that number, 31.6, or rather the 316 yards that he passed for, that has allowed the media’s loudest voices to shout down their biblical comparisons from the Internet heavens.
316, of course, reminds us of John 3:16, the Bible passage that reads: “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” But instead of talking about how Demaryius Thomas humiliated Ike Taylor on the 80-yard touchdown that both opened and closed overtime, or how underrated and increasingly dangerous the Broncos defense is, we’re talking about Tebow’s religion. Again.
For starters, Gregg Doyel, CBS Sports’ answer to Skip Bayless (who I’m sure is having a field day on that show of his that I will never mention), has referred to the game itself as “Tebow 316”, which was one of the 6 billion phrases to light up Twitter last night, and he even suggested that the box score should be stained into papyrus: “It was incredible. It was fantastical. It was damn near a Bible story.”
Cute, but no it wasn’t. I’ve read the Bible a few times and I don’t remember anything that remotely resembles a NFL wild card game, but I understand what Doyel is trying to do. Part-time Miami Dolphins reporter Omar Kelly also Tweeted that Tebow’s success isn’t talent as much as it’s God rewarding him because he is spreading the gospel. He also pointed out that “Tebowing” is actually praying so the QB gets bonus points from above for making people at least pretend like they’re being pious, including the entire CBS crew. That’s certainly more subtle than suggesting a rewrite of one of the world’s oldest books.
CNBC reporter and self-anointed Judge Dredd of Twitter, Darren Rovell, went as far as to suggest that Broncos VP and legend John Elway is jealous of Tebow by conducting a Twitter poll. After 247 whopping votes, Rovell determined that he was right. Then he also said that 316 was not a coincidence.
Even our old friend, New England Patriots fan and adult film starlet Bibi Jones weighed in on her thoughts of Tebow and his faith.
This 316 coincidence – or that Thomas was born on December 25 – is unfair to Tebow, who just wants to prove that he can play and win in the NFL. Sure, he probably also wants to spread the gospel, but to believe or insist that he purposely threw for 316 yards, or that God took the time to manage a football game does a disservice to what Tebow and Thomas, as well as that increasingly dangerous Broncos defense, did on the field. Hell, we could at least mention that Tebow doesn’t wear hats that make him look like a douchebag.
The media knows that Tebow pisses so many people off – whether because he thanks Jesus or simply because he was a Florida Gator – so they keep pressing his religious views like a button that administers a 10,000-volt shock to his critics’ nuts. Instead of, you know, talking about the actual game and what his teammates helped him achieve.