By Dan Bernstein-
CBSChicago.com 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.
Dan 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.
Listen to The Boers and Bernstein Show podcasts >>