"The Faith & Doubt Issue" is weeks old, and the Philadelphia Eagles have signed Tim Tebow.
If faith is the expectation of unfulfilled promises, then Tebow, whose belief in himself is only outstripped by the doubts of his many detractors, could be due.
Or it could be that Tebow has already had his due.
Tebow had an exceptional college career with the Florida Gators, winning a Heisman Trophy and two national championships. Despite lingering doubts about his ability to make it as a quarterback in the NFL, Tebow was taken in the first round of the 2010 NFL draft by the Denver Broncos. In the 2012 playoffs, he led the Broncos to a legendary upset of the Pittsburgh Steelers in what has come to be called the “3:16 Game” because of the many parallels between some of the game’s statistics and Tebow’s faith.
Aside from this one brief, electrifying moment, Tebow’s time under center has been well-below average, and therefore short. After three teams and three years, Tebow was out of the league. Nevertheless, his time among the best is enviable. Tebow did more, and went farther than most of the kids who put on pads.
So why is Tebow back? Some suggest it’s ego.
It’s not that Tebow lacks the ability to play in the NFL, it’s that he lacks the skills to play quarterback. Tebow is an exceptionally gifted athlete. If he’d only switch to tight end or fullback, say his detractors, then he’d probably be in the midst of a long and fruitful career, instead of becoming part of Chip Kelly’s “Philadelphia Experiment.” But he’s so stubborn. For Tebow, it’s quarterback or nothing.
Which makes you wonder when faith becomes folly.
Tebow’s signing by the Eagles comes packaged in the same news cycle as the tragic sinking of a boat full of migrants off the Libyan coast, giving us two starkly different examples of how faith inculcates boldness.
Many of the 700-900 people who lost their lives crossing the Mediterranean in hopes of reaching Italy came from desperate situations in disparate places like Somalia, Eritrea, Mali, Gambia, Bangladesh, Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria. Reaching Libya, which has become the center of a booming human trafficking trade (as well as a stronghold for militants from the Islamic State) in the absence of a stable government since the fall of Ghadafi, was their “Hail-Mary.” They sought passage on an overcrowded boat of questionable seaworthiness in order to reach a land where their future was uncertain and their presence unwanted because for them, whatever was waiting on the other side of the Mediterranean’s brilliant blue had to be better than what they were leaving behind.
And there are as many as 500,000 more just like them crowding the scarred Libyan shore, dodging militias, waiting for whatever rickety boat or rubber raft may come because they believe. “I have been hearing the stories that people are dying, but me, I will cross it and I will cross it successfully,” said one migrant in a recent New York Times article. “I know that my Lord is with me. He will cross with me. I have made up my mind.”
Tebow believes, too. The faith he found on his mother’s couch as a 6-year old afraid of hell pushes him ever onward towards his brass ring of excelling at one of the most glamorous jobs in sports: “I believe in my God-given athletic ability and the coaches that have been blessed around me. I believe I can do the job as a quarterback in the NFL.”
And maybe he can, but should he want to? And, in the grand scheme of it all, should we care?