Faith-free Tebow? II

Since so many of you liked talking about Florida Gator two-time champion quarterback Tim Tebow, I thought I would drop this quick follow-up on last night’s national championship BCS championship game. I managed to avoid most of the game until the final quarter, but I happened to stay awake for Tebow’s (short) post-game interview that included a shout out to his Lord and savior Jesus Christ.

Some of you thought the networks did an adequate job of talking about Tebow’s faith while others felt the subject was avoided by the interviewers and the cameras. Since I can’t say much along that front, I’ll just mention a couple of news articles that could have mentioned the elements of Tebow’s faith that stood out last night. (And yes, the altar call I mentioned Thursday was a joke.)

Most prominently was this column in The Los Angeles Times where one of the most obvious faith elements in last night’s broadcast went completely ignored:

Finish with the face. Thick cheeks decorated in eye black, framed by a crew cut, above a tight expression that sweated with intensity, a face of a fighter.

This is Tim Tebow. For a couple of wonderfully antique hours Thursday, this is the perfect player who made us forget college football’s imperfect system.

Thanks to Christianity Today‘s Ted Olsen, we know that Tebow’s face was not the only thing that stood out to fans last night. It was what was written on Tebow’s face, but for one reason or another, the Times decided to ignore that:

Last night it was John 3:16: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

The Florida quarterback accomplished more than one goal last night: Google Trends says John 3:16 is currently the hottest search term.

People had to look up John 3:16? Maybe someone should bring back the Rainbow Man.

A column on The Sports Network Web site was more direct about covering the faith element in last night’s game. I don’t think every column or news report on last night’s game had to go this far with the faith element, but maybe this is what you have to do to create some balance:

Yet, he never flaunts his success or boasts about his enormous talents, but rather deflects praise to his biggest fan at every turn.


The most famous biblical verse, John 3:16, was expressed in eye black on the night he cemented his collegiate legacy. His famous “I promise” speech after Florida’s only loss this season on September 27th to Ole Miss concluded with two simple and telling words.

“God Bless.”

On second thought, from a straight news perspective, faith and God’s impact on Tebow’s life was one of the major elements of the game, so maybe this is what reporters should be telling their readers.

For those of you who like faith-free sports coverage, here is The New York Times coverage.

Another perspective that seems to get ignored is that some don’t like personal messages such as these and hope to see them banned. If that were to happen, one would imagine that the faith elements in sports would ironically receive more coverage.

Print Friendly

  • jsh

    “I’m trying to wean myself off sports, it’s too time consuming. I don’t watch football anymore, I gave that up. I got tired of the interviews after the games, because the winning players always give credit to God, and the losers blame themselves. You know, just once I’d like to hear a player say, ‘Yeah, we were in the game—until Jesus made me fumble. He hates our team.’”
    – Jeff Stilson

  • Dave G.

    “People had to look up John 3:16?”

    Of course. When I first started going to church, after college and several comparative studies in religion classes, I couldn’t identify the chapter/verse. Oh, I could paraphrase the quote. But I had to ask my girlfriend (later wife) what that ‘God loved the world so much’ quote was and where it came from. It’s a secular country out there. Expect more of the same.

  • Chris Bolinger

    I always wondered what happened to the Rainbow Man! Now Tebow is the Eye Black Man.

  • Joe K

    I read an article posted immediately after the BCS game [sorry, can't remember the source] that mentioned “Phil:3:16″ written under his eyes. I was ignorant of Phil 3:16 so I checked my bible and the close-up photos of Tebow. I recall the journalist mentioning Tebow’s Philippine missionary background in the preceding sentence so I’d say this was a simple typo. My guess is that this obvious mistake was quickly corrected.

  • James


    Tebow usually wears “Phil 4:13″ on his eye-black (“I can do all things through him who gives me strength”). For the National Championship, he switched that out for John 3:16. The article you read seems to have just confused the book and the verse.

  • Joe K

    thanks for the clarification about Phil 4:13. It was my first football game for the year, so they’d probably say that i don’t ‘get sports.’