Thanks to a salacious GQ story by NFL scribe, Michael Silver, Tim Tebow and all the Tim Tebow-ish things he does have once again been shoved into the limelight.
As part of his reporting, Silver spoke to Denver Broncos backup Brady Quinn and got his two cents on the man who essentially beat him out for a starting quarterback spot by virtue of his enthusiastic (read: crazy) fan base. Predictably, some of the comments weren’t too complimentary.
There were a lot of gems that folks have picked out from the piece (Quinn seems to insinuate that Denver’s success was more a byproduct of luck than Tebow magic), but the one that deserves the most scrutiny, undoubtedly, was this:
Quinn: If you look at it as a whole, there's a lot of things that just don't seem very humble to me. When I get that opportunity, I'll continue to lead not necessarily by trying to get in front of the camera and praying but by praying with my teammates, you know?
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Before deconstructing what Quinn is really saying there, it’s important to note that he has already come out and publicly apologized for his quotes. Via his Twitter:
The comments attributed to me in a recent magazine article are in NO WAY reflective of my opinion of Tim and the Broncos. Tim deserves a
lot of credit for our success and I'm happy for him and what he accomplished. Most importantly, he is a great teammate. That interview was
conducted three months ago, and the resulting story was a completely inaccurate portrayal of my comments. I have addressed my disappointment
with the writer and have reached out to Tim to clear this up. I apologize to anyone who feels I was trying to take anything away from our
Team's or Tim's success this season.
And Silver, for his part, has also sort of defended Quinn – the guy he pretty much threw under the bus in his article.
The people ripping @BQ9 4 his comments in GQ have it wrong. He was honest & not bitter at all. We talked for 50 minutes & he was respectful
The obvious follow-up question to Silver’s defense (?) of Quinn would be the one Barry Petchesky of Deadspin posed (“Honestly? That makes Silver's reporting look all the more suspect. If he and Quinn talked for 50 minutes, that's pages upon pages of notes, hundreds of quotes to choose from. Only three made it into the GQ piece, and they're all unfavorable to Tebow”), but that’s neither here nor there.
The far more interesting part of all this is that it reopens a debate that we can hopefully now have without all the emotionality and whining that plagued it the first time around: does Tebow pray too publicly?
Quinn clearly believes that Tebow would be better served praying quietly to the side with his teammates instead of in full view of the cameras as he tends to do, and he's not alone.
Here is a quick reminder of the way Tebow prays on the field for anyone who may have forgotten:
Prayer in sports is standard operating procedure. Every other player, seemingly regardless of specific faith, tends to thank God whenever they do well. The notion that athletes are forced to put their religious ideology on the backburner or that there is some sort of secular perversion that keeps religion from sports is ludicrous in every way. God finds his way into the discussion as it applies to sports every single day.
Some of Tebow’s more steadfast supporters suggest that their guy gets persecuted just because he’s religious rather than because he’s so outwardly religious, but if that were the case, then why aren’t all the other athletes who constantly praise God for their success similarly persecuted?
Tebow gets (at best) made fun of and (at worst) hated on because of how ridiculously public his constant praying and religious talk is. It’s so in-your-face, so out there, that if you don’t share his beliefs you can’t help but feel like he’s overdoing it. Like he’s shoving his faith down your throat. And that seems to be the general point Quinn was making. There is nothing wrong with being a devoutly religious person. There is nothing wrong with thanking God after your wins or asking God for strength after your losses – but there is a certain point where people feel like it’s too much.
That’s not to say that everyone who says that Tebow’s outwardly religious nature is too much has a good point. There are a lot of Devil's Advocates out there who hate for the sake of hating. They’re the annoying Bill Maher-types who enjoy sticking it to strongly religious people. They poke at Tebow just because he puts a face to everything they despise. They pretend to not understand what he means when he thanks God after games (they pretend that he’s thanking God for winning him the game, rather than giving him the strength to do what he does and be who he through wins or losses), and their opinions should be viewed with just as much skepticism as crazy evangelicals that see any talk about Tebow praying too publicly as a war on religion.
Somewhere in the middle of those two groups there are folks with a valid point, though. Normal, reasonable people can agree or disagree on what the fine line between being too outward with your praying and just being who you are is, and can similarly agree or disagree on whether Tebow crosses that line.
The first time this debate was had, somewhere around the peak of Tebow mania, folks were too emotional to really delve into this topic in a composed, rational manner. Now that everyone has had some time to cool off, hopefully a sensible conversation can be had about Tebow’s public flaunting of his religion.
The question is simple: is Quinn right or wrong when he says that Tebow too public with his constant praying and the way he consistently puts his religious beliefs on display?