Would so many dare criticize him so publicly if he were black? I don't think so. Imagine if Michael Vick had found Jesus while in prison and had become a vocal fan boy. Do you think he'd be mocked so vehemently? I don't. (That's not to say that he wouldn't still be haunted by the dog fighting business. However, it is interesting to me that folks are much less indignant about players' crimes against people. But I digress.)
Perhaps it's because we want our players in the National Felons League (the rapists, wife beaters, drug runners, anger management candidates) to have failed at least once so we fans can graciously grant them our forgiveness before permitting them to succeed on the field. But does anyone want Ben Roethlisberger dating their daughter?
Is Tim's post-TD Tebowing any more ludicrous than Ray Lewis' pregame dance? Hardly. But the prospect of mocking Lewis is much less palatable than mocking Tebow. After all, guys like Tebow have that whole "turn the other cheek" thing working against them so the perceived threat of reprisal is minimized. It's kinda like that scene from Fight Club where the homework is to pick a fight with a random person. When that person happens to be a priest the results are humorous at best.
It's a bit incongruous that while many want the No Fun League to back off touchdown celebrations involving choreography, Sharpies, popcorn and the like even more scorn a guy for taking a knee. Discount double check anyone? The NFL's war on extended fingers doesn't include those raised toward the heavens saluting a deity or a dearly departed relative.
Brett Favre's performance during the game following his father's passing was as transcendent as anything I'll ever see in football. It was magical, there's no other way to explain it. Being "in the zone" is a vast understatement. He was operating on another plane. But years later Brett was Weinering before Rep. Anthony Weiner gave it a name.
In an editorial, Sally Jenkins quotes theologian Michael J. Murray's position that we're all ill at ease with intrusions of personal faith. They can make us question whether we're backing the wrong team (and I don't mean the Broncos). If we're not currently a fan they can make us question if perhaps we ought to buy a team jersey. They make us defensive, especially when they appear out of context like during a sporting event. A lot of the needling also misses (perhaps purposefully for comedic purposes) the point. As Jesuit theologian James Martin writes, its not about individual prayers heard and the implication that other prayers are not, it's that with faith all may not go well but in the end everything will be alright.
Frankly, I don't care one way or the other. Preferably, everyone will get mocked equally. I'm not a religious person so I don't care if anyone thanks God for a touchdown. I'm not a fan of Tebow's so I don't care whether he succeeds or fails. But it does seem that Tebowing is fairly benign relative to other behaviors in the NFL.
Maybe Jesus doesn't care either.