I like football. I grew up with my dad and my brother watching it. I lived in New Mexico until I was eight, and my dad and brother always watched Denver Bronco games- they were our adopted home team.
When my parents moved to Colorado in the 80’s naturally the Broncos became our family’s team. I remember learning the game and rules of football from my dad and brother in our den on Sunday afternoons.
I remember “The Drive,” from John Elway as really being the first time I was amazed at football. I had just seen a quarterback go 98 yards with minutes left, and the team ended up winning. No one thought they could do it. Everyone had counted them out- except them, as John Elway told his teammates in the huddle on their own two yard line, “We got ‘em right where we want ‘em.”
When the Broncos finally won their first Super Bowl against Green Bay, it was monumental for Colorado. Living in one of the biggest sports towns in the country, I don’t think there will ever be a championship that meant more to the fans, or will ever rival the emotion of that first Super Bowl victory for Denver. The Broncos weren’t supposed to have won that game either. But the poise and leadership of John Elway had won out in the end.
As I think back about growing up watching football, and specifically the Broncos, it was a different time. John Elway, who was any Bronco fan’s idol, was a person of character. He worked hard. He had a family. He was someone kids could look up to-and did. The thought of him being caught with a gun outside a nightclub, running an illegal dog fighting ring, being charged with domestic violence, whining on the sidelines, or having a 40 million dollar drug operation on the side, would have never crossed our minds in a million years.
Fast forward to today, and I have pretty much come to hate all professional sports. It is sad really. In the span of about 20 years, there are very few sport athletes I would want my boys to even know who they are, let alone look up to. For that reason I follow sports very lightly now, and have hardly ever even watched a professional sports game with my kids. Being a Bronco fan though, I have kept up with it all.
I don’t have to recap all the ups and downs- mainly downs- the Broncos have been through since John Elway retired in 1999. The one thing that I always noticed though, was the spark seemed to be gone. No one seemed “hungry” to win. Oh, there were some good moments and good games, but the leadership and motivation seemed to be lacking on a consistent basis since Elway retired.
Until now. I was NOT happy about Tim Tebow being drafted to the Broncos. I didn’t think they needed another quarterback, and it seemed like a power play with the then coach, Josh McDaniels, and the then quarterback, Jay Cutler.
At the start of this year, I wasn’t convinced. To be fair, his “Tebowing” and display of Christianity was odd to me. It seemed like an act- like he was trying to win over the fans with an “alter boy” image. In a day and age where most professional ball players are concerned with number 1: their endorsements, status, women, and money, a young, good looking, quarterback professing his faith in the Lord after a touchdown, just didn’t fit the mold for what we have grown used to seeing. I half expected him to be busted with a prostitute and drugs his first few weeks here.
As the weeks went on and Tim Tebow continued to play, we all watched. We shook our heads. We didn’t believe it. We wanted to believe Tim Tebow could really be for real-but is he? I let my boys start watching games. I noticed the team seemed revived and hungry again to win. I saw the spark back. I saw Tim Tebow doing his thing, and always giving praise not to himself, but to whom he felt he deserved it. Yes, that includes his Lord and teammates. I saw his locker room interviews where he is soft spoken and polite- week after week. If it is an act, he shouldn’t be playing football- he should be an actor.
I realized a few weeks ago, Tim Tebow is a football player, but he is also someone of character. Someone who works hard, and someone kids- my kids- can look up to. Not as a football player who makes a lot of money for playing, but as someone who works hard, hangs in there, stays true to himself, motivates others, and doesn’t give up.
I told my boys tonight as we were watching the Broncos and Steelers game, that it didn’t matter who won, because both teams were playing their best, and that is what really matters- that you do your best. I told them as overtime started, I thought the Broncos were going to win, because they believed in themselves- you could see it by the way they were playing. My boys loved watching Tim Tebow, and Ryan was jumping up and down, and cheering his head off at the end of the game.
I felt good my boys can watch a football game like that, and cheer for Tim Tebow, and I don’t have to worry about hearing him shooting someone in a club tonight in the post game party. It’s nice to know even when they lose he still displays good sportsmanship. I don’t know what will happen with the Broncos, and Tim Tebow, but it is fun to enjoy the moment again.
Odd as it is, as I was tucking the boys in tonight and they told me again, they couldn’t believe that pass Tim Tebow made, it dawned on me that there has been a lesson here all along. I told my kids about it, without even realizing it at the time. It is one a lot of people in Denver are saying: Believe.
Maybe we have all grown too cynical to really believe working hard pays off anymore- most of the time it isn’t what you know but whom you know to get ahead. Maybe we’ve grown accustomed to character flaws when the going gets tough. But in my little corner of the world, this Tim Tebow seems to defy that. He wasn’t supposed to do any of the things he’s accomplished this year. We might have stopped or never believed in the first place, but he does.
Whatever happens with football, it is a game. As a mother, I wish there were more professional athletes our kids could have as heroes, because I do think sports mirror life a lot of times. If the worst Tim Tebow does is go down on a knee to do his “Tebowing” after a score, I’d much rather explain that to my kids, as I have done, than explaining why he is in jail for committing a crime.
It isn’t just about winning a football game, but the character and mind set you need to have to keep believing, and staying true to yourself when things are tough. It’s easy to forget at times- we all have moments of self doubt. But as I saw the sparkle in my boys’ eyes tonight, I have to conclude sometimes reminders are found in places we would never expect- like from a Denver Broncos quarterback.