Bernstein: Tim Tebow Is Bad, And That’s OK

By Dan Bernstein- Senior Columnist

(CBS) When it comes to the cult of Tim Tebow, I guess I’m just going to be Left Behind.

He can’t play quarterback in the NFL – at least right now – but that is no concern to his peculiar, wide-eyed army of true believers. To them, his deep religious faith and desire to advertise it obviate his startling lack of passing ability, and his “inspirational” presence matters more than such petty things like timing and accuracy.

I’m not just talking about the hillbilly fans here in the flock of worshippers. Certainly, more than enough writers and broadcasters have been compelled to professional embarrassment, letting their brains leak out of their ears enough to craft tortured apologies for Tebow’s shortcomings. There are many who are willing to speak more freely, sure, when they aren’t as worried about incurring backlash from the fanatics on the compound.

It’s one big, happy congregation of weirdos gazing slackjawed at the shining light in Denver, with their eyes rolled back in their sockets, trembling and chanting gobbledygook as they are overcome with misplaced ecstasy.

I still can’t quite figure out, though, what one has to do with the other. Either he is good at football or he isn’t, regardless of any invisible forces that may be swirling through the universe.

There is no other scoreboard, somewhere, on which every touchdown he throws proves the truth or legitimacy of his beliefs, with every interception or incompletion arguing otherwise: “It’s caught in the end zone! Jesus is lord!” or “Intercepted by the Chiefs! Nietzsche was right!”

It’s OK for someone to not like how he plays, while still celebrating his brand of retail religiosity. It’s OK for someone to not like how he plays, and feel that his outward piety is bizarre and primitive. It’s OK for someone to see some things that he may eventually do well at the NFL level, and hold out hope that he improves quickly and markedly.

What’s not OK is allowing any identification with his spirituality to influence the assessment of his ability.

So what if he’s just bad?

Are religious beliefs so fragile for some that Tim Tebow’s failure to be a star quarterback simply invalidates them, vaporizing all that is holy? If yes, I have drastically underestimated the scope of what’s at stake here, and may need to leave the planet before the rapture (I’ll check the date with Harold Camping – I think he just changed it again). But if not, there’s no reason to conflate the two.

Religion should be more important than this, held to the highest of philosophical standards and debated by those more learned and wise than, say, Jon Gruden. Believe what you choose to believe, and worship whatever gods you desire, but understand that tying a football player into them is not the best way to convey profundity, seriousness or genuineness.

In other words, if any of it is real, it had better be bigger than whether a quarterback is good or bad, the bible-quote stickers on cheekbones and nasal strips, invocations during pep-talks or thanking the creator for pushing that field-goal attempt wide right.

The Tebow cultists should know that any god worth worshipping is laughing at them.

bernstein 90x130 Bernstein: Tim Tebow Is Bad, And Thats OKDan Bernstein has been the co-host of “Boers and Bernstein” since 1999. He joined the station as a reporter/anchor in 1995. The Boers and Bernstein Show airs every weekday from 1PM to 6PM on The Score, 670AM. Read more of Bernstein’s columns here. Follow him on Twitter @dan_bernstein.
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  • ST in Texas

    Dan this is the best article I’ve read on Tebow-mania. Actually it’s one of the best articles I’ve read about our weird fascination and acceptance of those who make excuses for the uber-religious. Thank you

  • Big Con

    I think the whole God Business is a manipulation and a racket, spectrum-wide – whether True Belief or Along For The Ride Seat-Filling. But lefty quarterbacks are cool. So are lefty place-kick holders…assuming the Old Testament allows for a Plan B.

  • Tom

    Subtle misuse of the word “obviate.”

    • South Loop Dave

      Good catch Tom. Great article Bernstein, but I’m surprised someone like yourself, who is particularly diligent when it comes to catching people’s misuse of a word or phrase (as am I), missed the misuse of such a term. But at least it’s not as bad as a text saying “your gay,” right? Good read though.

      • Mark, Sterling

        ok, according to the dictionary
        obviate- to anticipate and prevent OR eliminate (difficulties, disadvantages, etc.) by effective measures; render unnecessary: to obviate the risk of serious injury.

        pretty sure that the “render unnecessary” part. However, I’m just a public school kid, and was never one to be overly interested in English class, so I could be mistaken.

  • Larry Horse's Arse

    Great piece Bernsie.

  • drb

    Says the AM radio co-host. WHy does it bother you so much to see someone silently pray when they accomplish their goal? I’ve never heard him preach his beliefs; say that you have to believe in anything. A players faith is a valid reason to dislike him now? Or is just that you have been made aware of His faith? That’s kinda stank Mr. Nazi.

    • Spoon

      Did you miss his abortion commercial during the superbowl, or does that just invalidate your argument?

    • Tom

      He did not say that you or anyone should dislike Tebow because of his beliefs. He is saying that Tebow’s beliefs, however valid, are not related to his football talents or lack thereof, and that it trivializes his or any religion to think that he is or should be an NFL starting quarterback because of his beliefs.

      And if you have not heard him preach his beliefs, you haven’t been listening.

      Not that there is anything wrong with using whatever platform one’s talent provides for the purpose of proselytizing. There is also nothing wrong with someone who believes differently being turned off by such proselytizing. We all make our choices and live with the consequences.

      • Roberta Waker

        Well said, Tom. Tebow is a good Christian, who stands up for his beliefs. However, at this time, he is not a very good NFL quarterback. And, yes, one has nothing to do with the other. Either you ARE a good QB or you are NOT; religion has nothing to do with it – talent does.

    • Chris in Scottsdale

      1) If you haven’t heard Tim Tebow espouse his religious beliefs you’ve never heard him speak, period. The funny thing is, you don’t have to hear him speak to get a dose of piety- You’ve apparently never seen him play either, as his eye black in college was perpetually adorned with bible verses.

      There are plenty of professional athletes out there who are devout and proud of it- but they tend not to be shoved down our throats until they’re… y’know- good. People weren’t nearly as hostile toward Kurt Warner, were they?

      2) A Nazi named Bernstein? Heh.

    • Mark, Sterling

      If you’ve never “heard him preach his beliefs”….then you simply haven’t been listening. That’s pretty much ALL he talks about.

  • Rich

    garbage article written by a miserable person

    • Spoon

      garbage reply written by a miserable person

    • Mark, Sterling

      See, it;s losers like you that even MAKE this whole thing a problem. Does Tebow’s success validate your belief in God or something? If so, then you are a sorry excuse for a Christian.

      P.S. If it’s a “garbage article”, then why did you read it? Followed by taking the time to dignify it with a response?

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  • America's Game

    Religion: us vs. them, with a heapin’ helpin’ of sanctimony. Football: us vs. them, with a heapin’ helpin’ of sanctimony, but way better clothing.

  • hammer

    I get it Dan, you hate religion, now back to sports…

  • Danny Noonan in a yachting outfit

    “. . .wiser than Jon Gruden. . .” That was great!

    You’re preaching to the choir, here Dan. All you really need to know, is that he comes from that rich tradition of Florida quarterbacks.
    Spurrier! Matthews! Weurffel! King Bigman, himself!
    Some other guys nowhere near a NFL post season win.
    And, now,
    Tebow! Actually, Rex Grossman is the best Florida QB ever.
    Happy Halloween! (I love carving jack ‘o lanterns)

  • mike in davenport

    I’m not religious, but even I’m offended for religious people when athletes thank god after making a play. If there is a god, I hope he has more important things to do than be particularly interested in the outcome of an unimportant game.

  • Jake from da burbs

    Here’s the deal. I completely agree with the premise of the article (despite all the side jabs at Christianity and religion as a whole that Dan so relishes). I agree that Tebow’s ability/performance on the football field and his faith are two completely different things that should not be predicated on one another.

    That being said, Dan continues to make this a continual rhetoric about sports and faith though he uses the very same platform to admonish those who constantly make it about sports and faith along with his condescending consoling undertones. As they say on the show… pick a lane!

    Tebow’s bad at football. Period! If you want to write an article that breaks down his game, then do it. He’ll probably never be a full-time starting QB for longer than a season because he’ll be too bad or he’ll be hurt/concussed by the way he plays. He’ll probably be Kordell Stewart lite who bounces around a little while because people are going to think they can fix him but he’s just bad. Tebow plays a backyard brand of football that is based on improvisation. He doesn’t fit well into stuctured organized offensive systems. He needs a completely option based offense that involves only 1-2 WR reads and then involves him running or pitching to a RB. Tebow at best will be a “wildcat” QB, just as Reggie Bush is kind of a “wildcat” RB. No real stable position but has some skill and could come in here or there just to give the defense something different to look at.

    But just as the Tebow-hating cult is all tired of the Tebow-loving cult. I’m tired of both cults because both cults have the same problem in their obsession to connect his game to his faith/religion. Yes, there is Tebow the devout person and then there is Tebow the football player. We as the sports consuming community should just focus on Tebow the football player.

  • Creighton

    I don’t mind Dan go at the Tebow fans, but how come he has never gone after the Notre Dame fans? “God fights for the Irish,” “Gods Team” etc… Tebow gets more press these days but head down to South Bend and they are just as goofey about it. I never got the god in sports thing, when you win god has blessed you and when you lose he is testing you. God sure is erratic when it comes to sports, weather, pretty much everything. Is god trying to test helmets in the nfl to see how they effect concussions? Shouldn’t he know this already he invented the brain right? If you believe god thats great if you don;t that is great, but can some people just realize that he does not get involved. I mean there are wars going on and people think he is sitting down on sundays to watch football and cheer for Tebow. Like Tebow is the only Christian to ever grace the field.

    • Chris in Scottsdale

      He’s not exactly a Notre Dame apologist…

    • Spoon

      Notre Dame fans would call for Tebow’s head if he was performing the way he is on the field for now while playing for ND. Tebow fans trot out graphs of Elway, Manning and Brees to demonstrate how Tebow is ‘on track’.

      Not to mention he, and others, have went after ND a thousand times, if not more.

      • Creighton

        True but Tebow was very good in College, he’s only a spread offense college player but that would not have stopped ND. ND hypes up their players to begin with. But I am talking about the fans, you ever been to a ND game and read some of those signs? I don’t hate ND but I don’t like religeon with my football. Yeah I will say the Tebow fans are worse but ND does it too. I feel bad for Tebow I feel like his whole life he has been used, used by his family, used by his fans, used by his school. The media didn’t help him, yeah he is preachy but the media made it a lot worse. People want to blame him but the media and the fans did more to hype him up than he did.

  • Spoon

    “both cults have the same problem in their obsession to connect his game to his faith/religion”

    No, they dont… here’s how it goes:

    Person A: “I”m sick of Tebow, he’s terrible at football, and just because he’s a good religious kid doesnt mean that he’ll somehow get divine intervention that makes him good”

    Person B: “I’m sick of you Tebow haters bashing him and his faith!”

    Person A: “…”

  • God Almighty

    Look, even I think Tim Tebow is bad at football.

  • meesohawnee

    bottom line is it takes a rat to sniff out a rat.. We have a member of the MSM who is telling us basically that TT has been a pump and dump all this time? Is TT really like the groupon IPO? No..cant be!! MSM doesnt do a pump and dump for its own financial gain does it? TT is “cult” because he had enablers with mics and cameras. Good thing we got DB to sniff that out. He would never do that ;)

  • Chris

    As always, this kind of piece is laughable as it just continues to feed what the writer seems to be railing against. It amuses me when ‘sports writers’ go on and on about the very thing they say they hate … perhaps their egos are so fragile that they – the sports authority, need to have the last say. Instead they continue to fuel the fire. If you don’t like it, stop contributing to it.

    For Tebow’s faith – I don’t really think he cares what anyone else thinks … he believes he answer to a much higher authority than any of you … last time I checked he can believe whatever he wants – just like the rest of you do. I’ve never heard him be ‘over the top’ preachy … again, its the media that takes these things and blows them up because its good for ratings/controversy and ensures they’re own work status.

    As For Tebow’s football play – think he has more ‘God-given’ atheltic ability and drive to win than most who write/read this types of articles. Does this translate into him being a NFL quarterback? Probably not.

    • StupidPeopleFTW

      So…. he’s a bad QB and his faith has nothing to do with it? Kinda like the article said? #herpaderp

      • Denver Deadite

        Definitely FTW on that one.

        Tebow is getting by on faith alone, but it takes TALENT to be an NFL quarterback, talent that he does NOT have.

  • meesohawnee
    i didnt know TB was on vacation last week in Russia


    In my own opinion, I could careless in the spirtual beliefs of Broncos’ QB Tim Tebow. From the little I’ve seen of #15 in Denver blue & orange, Tebow can’t throw the football and that’s what I’m more interested in looking at. There were serious questions about his lack of arm strength even before the Broncos took Tebow with the #25 overall pick in the 2010 NFL Draft and in the little I’ve seen, it’s hard not to argue. If Tebow has an NFL future, it’s not at quarterback. In fact, I hope Bronco fans who lobbied for Tim to start are satisfied. In fact, be careful what you wish for. You now have it with Tebow and he’s not long to stay Denver’s starting QB for much longer. In fact, why is Brady Quinn on that roster? I thought he, not Tebow, was #2 on the depth chart there behind Kyle Orton.

  • Bill Simmons

    Speaking of silly religious things, How did the argument go about leaving the tv on until the last possible minute before sundown this yr? (you made this public a few yrs ago)
    Did the empty seat left at your table get filled this yr?

    but it’s just slack jawed hicks who hold silly religious beliefs.

    You want to be Keith Olbermann-ish so bad,
    but before he was bitter and moath foaming. he did have some talent

  • Harry's Phlegm

    I’m a Christian and I stll believe Tebow is not an NFL QB (maybe a tight end or some weird hybrid type player). As for God being involved in sports, Christians believe He is involved in every facet of their lives, good or bad. What makes some of us (them) look bad is when they equate winning, scoring a TD, striking out a hitter (yes, I’m talking about Carlos Zambrano) or “success” not completely understanding their faith. God doesn’t “root” for teams. He doesn’t count the number of Christians on teams and and cause the team with more of them to win.

    Dan, most Christians are rational people who stay out of the fray. It’s the ones in the fray that, sadly, don’t always get it and I hate to say that. Those are the ones you call fanatical or irrational. Most of us just go about our business quietly and those that enjoy sports like I do, do so with a sense of persepective and even bemusement.

  • Denver Deadite

    Hmm, what would it mean if I said I prayed to God for that pathetic performance by Tebow and the Broncos on Sunday?

    To the Cult of Tebow, it would be blasphemy, of course. But if he played well and the Broncos won? Well, their hypocrisy would allow say that God is on their side.

    And that is where your argument falls apart, Harry. Players thank God that they’re favored for this TD catch and that win. None of ’em ever say that God didn’t favor them to drop the ball or lose the game.

    But then, I flat out think it’s absurd that God gives a rat’s arse what you’re doing at any given moment, and even less so when you’re playing a game, rather than, oh, praying or feeding needy children, etc.

    And more Tebowing after sacks of Tebow, please!

  • LSUor die

    I do think Tebow is a bad throwing QB, but will move the ball well with his legs if the offensive coordinator will run the type of run option plays he does well. I am an LSU fan and HATED playing against Tebow because he is a good fullback that will kill you with run option plays that are hard to stop. He is a great runner and will not be a conventional QB…..this is where many analysts have already condemned his whole career, but I think they are wrong……..he is very hard to stop in a run option, ball fake and occasional pass type of offense, but the run threat needs to be present every play because he lacks many conventional drop back QB skills.

    As far as the article……if his point was to be objective in judging Tebow, his tone in the article was way too demeaning and borderline hostile to seriously believe he is objective ……so I say…….FAIL as far as an article……….it only evoked the yeah yeah yeah reaction from one side of the argument

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