Tebow mixes faith and football with no apologies

ENGLEWOOD, COLO. (AP) - The Gospel and the gridiron are inextricably intertwined in Tim Tebow’s world.

The scrambling quarterback and devout Christian draws as much scrutiny for mixing faith with football as he does for his unconventional winning ways.

With all eyes on the quirky QB who has led the Denver Broncos‘ remarkable resurgence, Tebow isn’t shy about publicly professing his religious beliefs, often ending interviews with a hardy “God Bless!”

He inspired a viral phenomenon known as “Tebowing” when he dropped to a knee in prayerful reflection as his teammates celebrated around him in Miami after the first in a string of six outrageous comebacks.

Raised by missionary parents, Tebow wore Bible verses on his eye black at Florida and still preaches to villagers in the Philippines and inspires inmates during jailhouse talks.

And he’s sharing his religious beliefs with his teammates as enthusiastically as he yells the cadence at the line of scrimmage on Sundays.

Coach John Fox asked Tebow to give the weekly address to the team on the eve of a game against at San Diego last month, and nobody was surprised when Tebow shared Proverbs 27:17 _ “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another,” something Tebow deemed appropriate as offense, defense and special teams feed off one another in what NFL junkies call “complementary football.”

Another time, Tebow approached defensive players before a home game against the New York Jets and told them not to fret, God’s got this.

“I like his passion,” Fox said. “I think in today’s world with all that’s going on in sport and our society, I think it’s wonderful.”

Others cringe.

Former Broncos quarterback Jake Plummer said he likes Tebow but would like him a lot more if he would quit reminding everybody how much he loves Jesus Christ.

No way, Tebow said, insisting he isn’t “just a Christian or a believer at church.”

Many an athlete has used his platform as a pulpit.

Chap Clark, a professor at Fuller Theological Seminary, a prominent evangelical school based in California, said Tebow’s unorthodox route to success, after so many predicted he would fail as a quarterback, has set him and his faith apart, even from the many other athletes who talk about their religious principles.

Tim has this ferocity as a competitor, but it’s still a game to him. He is consistently saying that football is not the center of life,” Clark said. “His great strength is that even people who don’t agree with his faith at all play their best around him.”

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