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The power of Tim Tebow has little to do with football

By George Diaz, The Orlando Sentinel –

ORLANDO, Fla. — And so the nation’s most contentious morality play is finally over, buried in the deep freeze of Foxboro, Mass. by a flurry of passes from the cool QB with the good looks and the super-model wife.

Tim Tebow — the righteous virgin who brought the topic of religion and sports to a Mile High crescendo — no longer over-shadows the playoff scrum to the Super Bowl.

He will be missed by millions of people who have no clue about what a Cover 2 zone means. Their playbook has a deeper context, etched in the values that Tebow has embraced as devout Christian.

The infatuation with Tebow has always been much more than X’s and O’s. Each of Tebow’s NFL games are a referendum on faith, with the haters and the atheists like Bill Maher lining up on one side, squaring off against All Who Believe.

Do you have faith? Are you a good person? Is God on your side?

I hardly think God is picking favorites, though if there is a sports book up there you never know. Did the Big Guy give up the points and take Tom Brady and the Patriots Saturday night?

Tebow would never joke about that because he is a young man of strong faith, something that seems to be extremely troublesome for some people.

Perhaps it’s because it forces us to look deeper at ourselves and wonder if there is an after-life, and whether or not our actions will deem us worthy of eternal salvation.

The Tebowing craze overwhelmed this country in recent weeks, as all sorts of people got swept up by his polarizing presence. And yes much of it was E-S-P-N/media driven.

But there was a reason for that: People craved it. I doubt that the record 9,420 tweets generated by a sports moment after Tebow’s heroics against the Pittsburgh Steelers last week were all the work of professional journalists.

There is the legion of believers who love his Christian values, put off by so many athletes absorbed by their own egos.

There is the legion of non-believers who hate his Christian values, put off by an athlete they feel is telling them that his path is the only one to be followed.

There is the legion of fans and observers who love that he is turning the stodgy NFL upside down with his quirky throwing motion and unorthodox way of winning games.

There is the legion of fans and observers who hate his quirky throwing motion, and feel that Tebow’s struggles against the Patriots will only mushroom next season, and that John Elway, John Fox and all the others in positions of power in Denver will kindly ask Tebow to step away from the huddle.

We shall see. That is a conversation moving forward, and one that frankly, probably won’t consume Tebow and much as it will everybody else.

He has always been a bit of an accidental celebrity. He keeps the bigger picture in perspective, understanding that he will be judged beyond his ability to throw an out route.

Rick Reilly of ESPN wrote a fabulous piece (“I believe in Tebow”) leading up to the Broncos’ playoff game against the Pats, documenting Tebow’s impact on people who are dying or have suffered serious injuries.

He has hosted them at home and on the road, picks up the tab through his foundation, and gives them far more than a perfunctory photo op and hand shake.

He spent an hour with a nine-year-old boy ravaged by pain after the Broncos beat Chicago during the regular season. Closer to home, Tebow recently spent 10 minutes with Blake Appleton of Lake Wales. It will remain one of the most cherished moments of a life cut short.

Pick on Tebow all you want for his problems behind center. Yes, he stunk on Saturday. So did a bunch of his teammates: offensive line, defensive line, anybody trying to cover Rob Gronkowski.

And I understand that the Divine Power thing can be oft-putting. Your way may not be his way.

But a good majority of his 1,013,833 Twitter followers — and millions of others — embrace Tebow because he follows a path of goodwill and humility.

Most importantly for me, he is generously kind to children.

If you want to rip him for any of that, I suspect plenty of people on this planet will have his back.

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