From: Reid Forgrave
To: Jason Whitlock, Jen Engel, Billy Witz, Greg Couch
Big NFL news this week, everyone. Somebody doesn't like Tim Tebow. And that someone is the backup quarterback for the Denver Broncos, Brady Quinn.
Yes, Quinn immediately took to Twitter to apologize for his too-honest comments in a GQ Magazine article about Tebow. He got raked over the coals for criticizing Quarterback Jesus, for being a bad teammate, for saying his Broncos were lucky instead of good and for wondering how authentic Tebow's on-field expressions of faith truly are.
But in the background of the barrage of criticism that's rained down on Quinn the past couple of days is a dirty little secret: Quinn probably scored points around America by taking potshots at Tebow.
NFL players sick of the attention surrounding one below-average quarterback have reveled in it. The media -- whose criticism of Tebow was denounced as faith-bashing -- have smirked.
And God-fearing Christians uncomfortable with Tebow's frequent public expression of his evangelical faith nodded their heads, echoing the discomfort many feel about a way of practicing Christianity. In Quinn's words, it seems like Tebow's "trying to get in front of the camera and praying."
Yes, Tebow has his supporters. They are people who love him because he turned conventional NFL wisdom on its head; they are people who love him for standing for something other than money and fame; they are people who root for the underdog.
Yet Tebow has just as many haters, and I'm not just talking Bill Maher followers. Tebow haters think he's overhyped, overexposed and overwrought. Religious or not, they feel he shouldn't be mixing football and faith. These oft-blacklisted opinions have found their spokesman in Brady Quinn. Rail on Quinn if you want. Call him a bad teammate or a jealous understudy. But know that his views represent a bigger chunk of America than you'd think.
Had Floyd Mayweather gone on a bigoted Twitter rant against Tebowmania rather than against Jeremy Lin, Mayweather would have spent the week playfully bickering with Skip Bayless on ESPN instead of becoming persona non grata in the sports world.
(Weird time to bring up that I've irrationally convinced myself Tebow will end up winning two Super Bowls and be a borderline Hall of Famer? Or should I keep that to myself?)
From: Greg Couch
I get it that some people are uncomfortable with Tebow's open display of faith. But it's difficult to stomach that coming from someone who was beloved for his play at Notre Dame in front of Touchdown Jesus.
Quinn's career has flopped, mostly through injuries and bad luck of coaches being fired at the wrong time. He didn't have billboards giving him chances no matter what. The Broncos were lucky (they would have lost to the Bears in Week 14 if Marion Barber would have just fallen down inbounds). And Broncos head coach John Fox and VP of football operations John Elway didn't want Tebow, but they played him instead of Quinn because of fan pressure. All true.
But Quinn stepped too far in his jab at Tebow for seeking out cameras to pray in front of. You're right, Reid, that people will agree with him. That's just the same bitterness and ugliness we see all the time in the great Tebow debate. People just don't know what to do with him. They've decided he stands for every right-wing belief about gay marriage, military spending and food stamps, too. The next step was for Maher to become the leader in making fun of people who cheer for all the things Tebow stands for.
That's pathetic. He doesn't even stand for those things, anyway. If he wants to pray in public, then he just wants to pray in public. It's not about politics. And we shouldn't be ridiculing people for their religious choices.
As for Quinn, just stick to football. We here in Chicago can use a backup quarterback.
From: Jen Engel
Having already been accused once of being a deranged escapee from Bill O'Reilly's green room with regards to my opinion on Tim Tebow, I feel I need to proceed cautiously.
So I use the cautious font to type: Are you crazy, Reid?
None of my God-fearing Christian friends were uncomfortable with how Tebow owned his faith. Quite the opposite, actually. My Christian friends -- and, yes, I have a lot on account of living in Texas -- were galvanized. They were inspired. And almost none of us was smirking as yet another NFL player took to bashing him because he supposedly prays only in front of cameras.
Funny how everybody keeps arguing this is not about religion, yet every attack on Tebow has Quarterback Jesus, or a reference to his praying, or "Where is your God now?" cracks.
Why the Tebow debate has struck such a chord -- even among non-NFL fans -- is because it proves what a lot of us already thought. There is this giddy rush by some to paint all of us Christians with a broad brush that labels us unintelligent, extreme right-wing, mean-spirited religion bullies.
The reality is Bible-believing Christians come in all shapes and sizes. And, as Couch noted, many of us happen to have read the actual Bible where Jesus spends a lot of time talking about helping the poor and judging not, lest we be judged, and exhorting us to love. We have Jewish and Muslim and agnostic friends and we all get along because we are all just trying to coach our own team as best we can. So we do not take kindly to being ridiculed because of our faith and we feel for a guy like Tebow who draws all varieties of haters from Bill Maher to Brady Quinn based simply upon it.
So, no, the smirking and uncomfortability is not coming from us.
It is coming from guys like Quinn, and he needs to ask himself why. What is it about a guy who lives his faith like Tebow that makes him so uncomfortable?
Trying to sneak back into O'Reilly's green room now . . .
From: Billy Witz
Why does it always have to be about religion with Tim Tebow, you ask?
Simple: Because he wouldn't have it any other way. C'mon, we all know by now that whatever Tebow wants -- Marion Barber running out of bounds, walk-off playoff wins and billboards all over Denver -- Tebow gets.
So, when you're a dynamic player and you celebrate on the field with a public gesture of gratitude and open your news conferences by thanking your lord and savior, how can religion not be part of the equation?
Personally, I'd prefer Tebow talk about religion more frequently. Having sat through several of his postgame news conferences, I've watched virtually any football question beaten into submission with a bland stick. But ask Tebow something about meeting with sick children, why he is public with his faith or what he might be praying for while a field-goal kicker is lining up to a kick that would beat the Broncos, and you often get inspired, effusive and sometimes funny or poignant answers.
(Note to self: Must try this with Bill Belichick.)
I'm not particularly interested in giving someone a platform to proselytize, but if it gives me more insight into who they are and what makes them tick, then I want to hear it. And in great detail. As for this giddy rush to paint all Christians with a broad brush as unintelligent, extreme right-wing, mean-spirited religion bullies? Jen, you'll be glad to know I'd never question anyone's intelligence.
But I will say this: What I liked about reading Michael Silver's GQ piece -- and Brady Quinn's comments in particular -- is that it provided a broad looking glass into how those around the league were trying to make sense of this phenomenon. Quinn's comments might have been the most salacious, but it's not too hard to understand his circumstance as a frustrated backup and place his insights in context. I'd suggest that even a Christian could do it.
From: Jason Whitlock
The thing I like about Tebow is you can hate him, you can diss him, without fear of repercussion. That does not mean I hate Tebow or want to diss him. I just like that I have that right.
Jen, Tebow haters come in all shapes, sizes, colors and income brackets, too. You have 1-percenters like Quinn and you have 99-percenters like my dad. My mother loves Tebow. You can't pick a Tebow hater out of a police lineup. I like that. I bet President Obama and first lady Obama disagree about Tim Tebow.
Reid, never write again that you think Tebow is going to the Hall of Fame and going to win two Super Bowls. Don't give in to irrationality. It can haunt you for a lifetime. I still believe Jeff George is the answer to some team's Super Bowl equation. I do. Let it go, Reid. Let it go.
From: Reid Forgrave
I don't know, Jason. I might end up making Tim Tebow my version of Jeff George. I kind of like picking that no-chance-in-hell player and praying that, against all odds, he'll get it done, rationality be damned. Hey, I'm a Cubs fan. You gotta believe.
One of the overlooked gems in the GQ piece was this thoughtful take on the Tebow phenomenon by Kurt Warner: "To me, it's a biblical story. That's what the Bible's full of: ordinary guys who are able to accomplish extraordinary things, not by their own strength and might but by God's hands coming with them."
Warner's words show the best take Christians have on why Tebow has struck a chord with so many of us. But the worst parts of Christians have come out during Tebow Time, too: The urge to cast out any opinion that disagrees with our own. The urge to call people crazy for suggesting that Tebow's very public Christianity makes some true Christians very uncomfortable. The urge to vilify Brady Quinn for comments that were, at worst, him being a bad teammate; at best, him speaking uncomfortable truths so many are afraid to speak.
So lay off Brady Quinn. His remarks on Tebow weren't hateful toward Christians, not in the least. In fact, I might go as far as calling them courageous.