Cameron Conaway insists that this has nothing to do with football and everything to do with what it means to be a good man.
“If you look at it as a whole, there’s a lot of things that just don’t seem very humble to me,” Brady Quinn said of his Denver Bronco teammate Tim Tebow as part of an oral history in GQ Magazine. “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?”
More than any other position in any other sport, the quarterback is expected to represent everything that is pious. It seems quite a shallow definition of piousness as it often begins with looks. In movies and even in real life, quarterbacks have been shaped into the good ol’ American boy model. The perfect hair that takes time to groom but comes off as careless. The masculine jaw. The perfect size: not freakish like the offensive lineman but not too jacked like the running back. Once a decent level of play and look are established, it’s all about the morals. Unfortunately, the morals of men are still inextricably linked not to their character but to their religion, in particular, the way they showcase their religion.
Of which Tim Tebow is the master. While Tebow hasn’t yet gone Evander Holyfield in his Jesus rants (post-fight, when the interviewer would ask Evander about certain punches or technical aspects of the bout, Evander would get on the Jesus train and ride it until he totally forgot the question). Of course, Fox News loves Tebow, but this has nothing to do with his play and everything to do with his status and, primarily, his outspoken Christian beliefs. Of course, it was this aspect that paired with his camera presence and game performances that unleashed Tebowmania. “His parents were Baptist missionaries so you know he comes from good stock,” I once overheard a fan say. When Tebow wore John 3:16 on his eye black during the 2009 BCS Championship Game, the verse reportedly became the highest-ranked Google search throughout an entire day, generating somewhere near 90 million searches. He must be a great guy.
But what about Brady Quinn? He went to Notre Dame. THE Catholic University. Where nearly every residence hall has a “priest in residence.” Plus, Quinn quotes Biblical verses on Twitter. That must count for something? Alas, he hasn’t had the NFL success of Tebow, but perhaps there is a reason for it? From the same GQ piece:
“Early in the season, there was a game when Kyle (Orton) got hurt and the coaches were calling for me to go in, but Kyle got up and finished the game out,” Quinn said. “So I was the second-string guy. Then, a few weeks later, they decided to put Tim in. I felt like the fans had a lot to do with that. Just ’cause they were chanting his name. There was a big calling for him. No, I didn’t have any billboards. That would have been nice.”
It all begs the questions: what if religion hadn’t sparked Tebowmania? How may have religion and Tim’s pull because of it consciously or subconsciously shaped who replaced Kyle Orton?
The same mechanisms are at work on a scale larger than football – the race to be the next President of the United States. The major new battle that the GOP has been waging against President Obama in recent days is over just how strongly he believes in the unknowable. Interesting, especially considering the epic fail of Rick Perry’s “War on Religion” YouTube video. As I write, “Romney: Obama Administration has ‘Fought Against Religion’” is the feature headline on the front page of The Huffington Post. And Rick Santorum made waves recently by saying that he believes Obama believes in “some phony theology. Not a theology based on the Bible.” In America, “religion” is synonymous with Christianity. So the buried argument here is clear to all who think hard on it: Regardless of what you or bipartisan organizations or the world feels about Obama’s presidency, he’s not a true believer and this means he’s not a good man. Or, at the least, he’s a good man misguided. Do you really want someone like this as your leader?
The unraveling drama of Brady Quinn and Tim Tebow has shaped discussions about what makes a good man. The question seems to mistakenly revolve around whether good and humble men express their (Christian) faith brazenly or privately. Right out of the gate it’s a skewed debate. Religious belief and expression are no more indicative of a good man than his ability to throw a touchdown pass.
—AP Photo/Orlin Wagner