Brilliant swift-footed Tebow

I haven’t regularly watched football since I was a kid, and I know next to nothing about football today. But about three months ago I happened to turn on a Sunday afternoon game between the New York Jets and the Denver Broncos late in the fourth quarter. The Broncos, who were behind by several points, got possession of the ball deep in their own territory with about five minutes left in the game. Then there unfolded before me perhaps the second most amazing phenomenon in a sports game I had ever seen (the most amazing being the bottom of the 10th inning of the sixth game of the 1986 World Series between the Mets and the Red Sox). The Broncos quarterback, Tim Tebow, whom I had never heard of before, ran a series of plays in which he ran, it seemed, on every single down, and on every single down gained significant yardage. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. This just didn’t happen in professional football, with the quarterback keeping the ball and running on every play. And since Tebow was running on every play, why couldn’t the Jets figure what he was up to and stop him? Each time, gaps just seemed to open in the line and he broke through. Was it because the Jets were incompetent, or did Tebow have some kind of radar that allowed him to scope out the openings?

I was again reminded of the profound similarity between football and Homer’s Iliad, in which, just as in a football game, the two armies strive against each other, sometimes one gaining “the Force” or superior will or whatever it is and pushing the other back deep into its territory, then the other suddenly gaining the initiative and pushing back, with special moments when one of the heroes is helped by a god and becomes unstoppable, like Diomedes at the beginning of Book Five:

There to Tydeus’ son Diomedes Pallas Athene
granted strength and daring, that he might be conspicuous
among all the Argives and win the glory of valour.
She made weariless fire blaze from his shield and helmet
like that star of the waning summer who beyond all stars
rises bathed in the ocean stream to glitter in brilliance.
Such was the fire she made blaze from his head and his shoulders
and urged him into the middle fighting, where most were struggling.

What was happening on that football field was not in the normal course of things; there was something supernatural about it. Your moral imagination would have to be asleep not to entertain the thought that a god—or, as Tebow himself would have it, God—was with Tebow.

The announcer kept saying, “It’s Tebow Time,” so this was apparently a regular thing he did, though I heard later that this was only the second or perhaps third week in which he had been the Broncos’ starting quarterback. So in just one or two weeks as a starting player his name had become an epithet, like the heroes in the Iliad—“Hektor, breaker of horses,” “brilliant swift-footed Achilleus.” Tebow was certainly big and swift-footed and brilliant, like Achilleus. The drive climaxed with something like a 20 yard run by Tebow for the game winning touchdown with just a few seconds left in the game.

In the subsequent weeks, I heard a lot about Tebow, of course, but didn’t see the Broncos again until last Sunday, when I turned on the playoff between the Broncos and Steelers in the last few seconds of the fourth quarter, which ended in a tie. Then there was the amazing 80 yard play that won the game on the first down of overtime, with the lightning-like pass by Tebow—who is supposed not to be a good passer—up the center to the Broncos receiver Thomas, followed by Thomas’s stiff arming the defender and then running all the way for a touchdown with the defenders unable to catch him.

Anyway, tonight, at 8 o’clock Eastern time, I’ll be watching the Broncos-Patriots game from the start.

Here is a front page article in today’s New York Times about the Tebow phenomenon. The Times plays it both ways, being positive about Tebow and his character and accomplishments, but also constantly invoking (and assuming as normative) the deep seated liberal hatred of serious Christians.

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LA writes:

Besides Achilleus, there is just one other character in literature I can think of who is known for being both very big and very fast—John D. MacDonald’s “salvage expert” cum detective, Travis McGee.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at January 14, 2012 07:25 PM | Send

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