A Chance to Add Character

Growing up, football meant the Super Bowl, and picking the team to root for was as simple as asking, “Daddy, who are you cheering for?” It also meant Mom’s fried chicken. Yummiest. Tradition. EVER. The Super Bowl was like a holiday — one where I never understood why school wasn’t closed the next day so kids could stay up to watch the entire game. And eat more fried chicken. I’ve met people who grew up without Super Bowl traditions, which I’ve never been able to fathom. Poor things probably missed out on the chicken, too.

I am a girl, and I like football. I even pick my own teams to root for now, though Dad and I usually still agree. (He raised me so well.) Most people choose their team based on geography, even if it’s when you happen to go to a college close enough to a professional team and you jump on that bandwagon for four years. (Go team everyone-else-is-cheering-for! Solidarity!) I’ve also heard of girls who pick their team based on who has the better looking quarterback. I prefer to go by a team’s character — guys who play well and fairly, show humility, give back to the community, things like that.

Consequently, I hate the Patriots.

Now, before I incur the wrath of every Patriots fan who happens upon this blog, I am sure there have been quality men who have worn a Patriots jersey. I am generalizing and mean nothing personal. Although it is probably best to navigate to friendlier territory now because I am still the aunt who taught her nephew to say “no one” when asked, “Who likes the Patriots?” He doesn’t miss a beat. Such a smart kid. Bye Pats fans; sorry we couldn’t be friends.

Even if it were true that all Patriots are egotistical poor losers, it looks like that’s about to change. The Patriots signed Tim Tebow yesterday.

Yes, he has a contract the Patriots could apparently break any day now if they want, but if he makes the roster, and more, if he plays, I could end up cheering for a Patriot this fall. It’s terribly unnerving.

If I didn’t lose you at my anti-Patriots sentiments, I may have lost you now with my respect of Tebow, someone people either love or hate. I think he possesses good character. I think he’s the kind of role model we should want for children. I think he deserves the chance to serve in that role. And kudos to the Patriots if they give it to him. (See? I can say something positive.)

There are those who say Tebow won’t make it in the NFL because he lacks the necessary athletic skills. Others say teams don’t want to deal with the “media circus” that follows him. While I can’t say I am an expert when it comes to athletic potential, I do have something for the “media circus” — back off, clowns.

Does anyone really think Tebow’s goal in pursuing an NFL career is for incessant coverage and utter nonsense? I sure don’t. I think he wants the opportunity to work hard toward his dream. Isn’t that what we expect most rookies are looking for, come the draft? There’s one more thing about Tebow though. He may love football, but he loves his Lord and Savior more — and he’s not afraid to show it.

The media love this kind of thing, because they see an easy target for mockery or the potential to expose hypocrisy. When Tebow starts drawing fans and publicly praises Jesus, their obvious tactic is ridicule. It’s not like he’s going to fight back, and if in some instance he doesn’t turn the other cheek, there’s the chance to cry hypocrite. It’s the same reason people eat up stories of child stars turned jailbirds — the public loves when people fail to meet expectations.

Well, too bad for you, media clowns, because when you make fun of Tebow, he handles it with grace. Last year, when he signed with the Jets, how quickly you laughed and counted how many times the kid said he was excited. He responded with this on Facebook:

I’ve already said it 44 times so here goes number 45: I’m really excited to be a Jet! Haha! All joking aside, it’s truly an honor to be a Jet and I’m anxiously looking forward to going to work with all of my new teammates and coaches. Fireman Ed and the rest of Jets nation, I’m gonna play my heart out for you.

J-E-T-S JETS! JETS! JETS!

Don’t fret; there’s still the chance for hypocrisy, which is perhaps why you refuse to leave him alone. Maybe you’ll get lucky. No one is perfect, and Christians like Tebow won’t hesitate to tell you they’re sinners just like anyone else who’s ever played on a football field — or walked through the doors of a church. But you’ll be sure to leave that out of any blemish-exposing headlines.

Fortunately, not every voice out there is a naysayer. Former NFL coach Tony Dungy offered words of encouragement for Tebow before news of the Patriots deal, saying, “The Lord has a good spot for you”:

Tim’s a winner. He’s a guy that lifts his teammates. He lifts the spirits of any team that he’s with. So he’s going to find a place to go to work and he’ll find the right spot and give those guys some encouragement and be a chance to be a winner. So my advice would be just be patient, wait for the Lord to show you that right team and be ready to go.

As Dungy said, God has a plan for Tim Tebow, and perhaps the Patriots are that right team. Come the fall, I’ll still root for him, even if it means cheering for the Patriots. After all, if he’s not making plays, he’ll at least add character.

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