COLUMN: Big Ben & The Teebs, two essential stories about the Christian faith

When he was in college, the nation could not get enough of his ability to push his teammates through any situation. When he was drafted, the Broncos were ridiculed because his throwing motion was not that of an NFL quarterback. Now the media, college campuses, workplace water coolers and especially the Internet are buzzing with “Tebowmania.”

In the AFC Wildcard game last night, Tebow completed 10 passes. That’s nothing compared to what Drew Brees or Matt Stafford did in their games, completing 33 and 28 passes respectively. But Tebow did something that neither of the two have done in their entire careers.

He broke Twitter.

Well, sort of.

When Tebow threw the 80-yard touchdown pass to Demaryius Thomas on the first play of overtime against the Pittsburgh Steelers, Twitter exploded with over 9300 tweets per second. That was more than when Beyonce announced her pregnancy (8000+) and when Bin Laden was killed (5000+).

Only adding to the shock and the excitement of the moment was Tebow’s final stat line. The Heisman winning quarterback had two touchdowns and a 125.6 (out of 158.3) QB rating, going 10-21 for 316 yards.

That’s right, 316. Before entering the NFL where the rules do not allow it, Tebow wrote two Bible verses on his eyeblack – Philippians 3:14 and John 3:16.

Beyond his football career, Tebow is changing the way people think about faith. Personally, I thought the comparing of stats and Bible verses was a bit over the top and absurd. However, now one day removed from the upsetting loss of my favorite team, I love that people are talking about Scripture. It does not matter to me why or how the talking is started or generated, but that there is talk.

Even after throwing the spectacular game-winning touchdown, the first words out of Tebow’s mouth were the same as always, win or lose.

“First and foremost, I just want to thank my savior, the Lord, Jesus Christ,” Tebow said. “I am so thankful for the platform God has given me.”

Some commentators have even called him the Messiah. I won’t go that far, but I will say that Tebow is definitely an inspiration.

His name is a verb now. People are “Tebowing” everywhere – not just on the sports field.

Even Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger “Tebows.” Well, he was taking a knee and praying on the football field well before Tebow was even in the NFL.

Although his past is rocky, the Pittsburgh quarterback is a firm believer in Jesus Christ. His first run-in with NFL came in his rookie season when he wore his “PFJ” (Play for Jesus) cleats.

I’ve been watching Steelers games for years and have always noticed Roethlisberger’s praying or his acknowledgement to the heavens immediately after he throws a touchdown pass.

“You don’t have to listen to what I have to say, but I will always have the opportunity to glorify God in all that I do,” Roethlisberger told the media before the 2005 Super Bowl.

Unfortunately, Roethlisberger’s godly example was tainted by two accusations of rape. While he was never convicted, he was suspended under the NFL’s personal conduct policy.

Both times, fans across the nation – including many in Pittsburgh – called for the firing of the one they call “Big Ben.”

While most haven’t noticed, Roethlisberger has changed. He has said he knows his words are meaningless and in order to get his reputation back he needs to use his actions.

After the season’s conclusion in 2010, Roethlisberger started listening to his favorite Christian artists again and attending church on a regular basis. Since then he has joined Christ Church at Grove Farm just outside of Pittsburgh.

He now hangs out with other members of the church. He dumped his entourage. Since then, his family has moved in to help him find who he used to be. Last summer, he quietly married Ashley Harlan, who comes from a Pittsburgh family that a local pastor declared to be “one of the finest Christian families I’ve ever met in my life.”

Though the two quarterbacks tell completely different stories, they are both critical and necessary for the Christian faith.

David Kuo and Patton Dodd likened the two in a Washington Post article before Sunday’s game.

Tebow and Roethlisberger point to the essential aspects of evangelicalism, the ones that make it persist — its missionary, proclamatory character on the one hand, and its private, searching piety on the other. The former wants to appeal to the whole world, which is why Tebow’s family raised him not only to preach, but to persuade others with a winning demeanor. The latter wants a changed life; Roethlisberger, in evangelical parlance, rededicated his life to Jesus after a period of backsliding, because he knew no other way to break his pattern of misbehavior. – Washington Post, David Kuo and Patton Dodd

The qualities that make Tebow and Roethlisberger such great players can be found in every great Christian – authenticity, courage, patience, leadership and the humility to believe in something more powerful than oneself.

While Roethlisberger will not be on the field this weekend, another man of faith will be. And win or lose, Tim Tebow will give all the glory to God, just as he does week in and week out.



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