The apple of Tebow’s eyeblack

Allstate Sugar Bowl - Florida v Cincinnati

If you watched the Allstate Sugar Bowl on New Year’s, you probably noticed two things: that Tim Tebow hardly could have been more brilliant in his final collegiate game and that his iconic biblical eyeblack referred to Ephesians 2:8-10.

If so, you would have been twice as observant as many sportswriters. They seemed to only notice Tebow’s performance. Conversely, many bloggers seemed only to notice the eyeblack — and far too many of those commentaries were condescending and derogatory.

The Associated Press, The New York Times, even, which often does outperforms other media outlets in getting religion, were mum on Ephesians. Instead, ESPN focused on the fitting end to Tebow’s collegiate legacy and his uncertain future as a pro (and the Gators’ uncertain future with, or without, Urban Meyer):

Thus a week of stress and doubt in the Gators camp ended in a low-stress, no-doubt rout. Meyer, who will now head into a vaguely defined leave of absence, had the luxury of pulling Tebow in the fourth quarter for a long and loud ovation from the Florida faithful.

A guy who has always worn his emotions on his jersey sleeve kept it in check this time. Smiles, yes. Tears, no.

Tim Tebow’s unparalleled work here is done. And after his first night as a certified gunslinger, the gilded body of work is now complete.

“My time at Florida was special,” he said. “It was better than a dream. Honestly, I dreamed of being a Gator since I was 6 years old, and it was better than I could have dreamed.”

Good stuff. But if you’re familiar with Ephesians 2:8-10, you can see how apt it would have been for the reporter to mention it here:

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith — and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God — not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

Tebow was, after all, a Christian hero who constantly reminded the world his talents were not his own. In fact, the first thing Tebow said when handed the most outstanding player award was, “I’d like to thank my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.”

A lot of athletes and celebrities do that. But none really seem as sincere as Tebow. If this is starting to sound like hagiography, I apologize, and I have no such illusions. But I do think it would have been worth mentioning. Not because most sports fans don’t already know the role of God in Tebow’s life, but because the detail of his eyeblack seemed particularly relevant on this occasion.

At least one newspaper agreed, though not one I typically look to for thoughtful or in-depth reporting:

Tebow, who is known for touting bible verses during football games, tore through the Louisiana Superdome with “Ephesians 2: 8-10″ printed beneath his eyes. The reference suggests that, despite his team’s win, Tebow will not be boasting anytime soon.

The New York Daily News followed that paragraph by quoting the passage from Ephesians. That’s it — and it was all that was needed.

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  • Chris Bolinger

    Kudos to The New York Daily News for doing the, ahem, basic blocking and tackling. As you noted, that is all that was needed.

  • Ed Mechmann

    Here’s another great Tebow story, gives you a sense of a man who puts his faith into practice:

  • Les Vincent

    If, only, we had more young men like Tim. May God continue to bless he and his family.

  • Herb Brasher

    Did anyone notice the player on the opposing team who had 1 Timothy 1:10-15 tatooed on his forearm? That’s even a stronger testimony, in a way, though I can see that nobody would want to read that out loud on national TV!

    During Florida’s last game of the regular season, the ESPN announcers bounced around with the verses on his eyeblack then–Heb. 12:1-2. They thought it was Hebrews 12:12 at first, which is an interesting verse. Then they corrected themselves and read verse 1. “OK,” I thought, “they aren’t going to read v. 2 for obvious reasons,” but somebody told me they did, later on. I must have been on potty break.

    I like those verses better than Philippians 4:19. As much as I appreciate his testimony, it seems a little incongruous to talk about Christ my strength when I’ve got the number 1 team (at the time) in the country helping me out. It would make even more of an impression if Tim had played for Baylor, maybe.

    But I, too, applaud his testimony, and wish him well. I hope his rrelatives didn’t get too much national exposure–it’s not easy being Christian workers in Bangladesh.

  • Jay


    Great post. You capture the essence of Tebow, his controversial eyeblacks, his performance as an athlete, and the media coverage —— all in 534 words.

    Definitely one for the clip file. (Do journalists keep clip files anymore?)