Tim Tebow, ever the controversial QB, has usually received huge fan support from evangelicals for his outspoken faith. But apparently Tebow’s frequent religious references have incited (constructive) criticism from fellow-believer and NFL QB Kurt Warner. Here are some of Warner’s soundbites from a recent USA Today article:
You can’t help but cheer for a guy like that….But I’d tell him, ‘Put down the boldness in regards to the words, and keep living the way you’re living. Let your teammates do the talking for you. Let them cheer on your testimony.’
I know what he’s going through, and I know what he wants to accomplish, but I don’t want anybody to become calloused toward Tim because they don’t understand him, or are not fully aware of who he is. And you’re starting to see that a little bit.
There’s almost a faith cliche, where (athletes) come out and say, ‘I want to thank my Lord and savior.’… As soon as you say that, the guard goes up, the walls go up, and I came to realize you have to be more strategic.
The greatest impact you can have on people is never what you say, but how you live. When you speak and represent the person of Jesus Christ in all actions of your life, people are drawn to that. You set the standard with your actions. The words can come after.
I suppose I understand Warner’s concern. But how else and how long does Tebow need to “represent” Christ with his actions before he should speak out? The outward nature of Tebow’s faith has been well documented for several years now, and the actions represented in his recent come-from-behind winning streak has even won the respect of many of his critics, including teammates, coaches, opponents, and commentators. Beyond that, it seems that it is the media of all sources which has pushed much of the religious discourse surrounding Tebow and his recent achievements (see, e.g., here, or just watch ESPN today). So, what else does Tebow need to do before he should be vocal about his faith? Moreover, I’m confused about what Warner means by Tebow needing to be more “strategic.” I doubt that Tebow’s objective for giving thanks to Christ on television is to proselytize; rather, his references are so brief and generic that it seems to me he is just giving credit to the one who gives him the confidence needed to be successful in the NFL. And I, personally, have no problem with that. At this point it might even be stranger if Tebow said nothing about his faith at all.