Woo-woo enthusiasts, start your engines: Tim Tebow threw 316 yards against the Steelers last night.
John 3:16, of course, is one of Tebow's favorite Bible verses and his former eye black adornment.
Icing on the cake: As noted by the Los Angeles Times and others, he also set an NFL playoff record with 31.6 yards per completion.
Just chance? Or is Someone trying to tell us something?
Twitter was, well, a-twitter about it. Both cheers and sneers.
"Coincidence? I think not," said one Fill Werrell.
"Comedy writes itself!" shot back BLHolla.
"What about the time he threw for 60 yards against KC in week 17?" added StatsMikeMike. "What verse was that?"
The magic number seemed all the more magical in the weekend game, in which the Denver Broncos pushed ahead by halftime, then saw the Steelers draw even in the late fourth quarter. But when the game went into a rare overtime, Tebow connected on a final pass to win it. Then he bent a knee in his signature "Tebowing" kneel -- before high-fiving with his teammates.
John 3:16, also a favorite of Billy Graham and other evangelists, is often called the "capsule gospel." It has Jesus saying: "For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish but have everlasting life." Tebow used to write the verse address on his eye black eye during his days at the University of Florida, although NFL rules bar wearing it with the Broncos.
Actually, Tebow put other verses there now and then. As HuffPo noted in 2010, the verses have included Hebrews 12:1-2, about persisting in the faith, and John 16:33, where Jesus counsels peace, "for I have overcome the world." Still another is Philippians 4:13: "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me."
Nor is Tebow the first Christian in football to air his faith. Norm Evans, a veteran of the Miami Dolphins' "Perfect Season," conducted seminars for Christian men, then founded a spiritual coaching group for retired athletes. And in 1976, we at the Sun Sentinel profiled Super Bowl X's opposing quarterbacks -- Roger Staubach of the Dallas Cowboys, Terry Bradshaw of the Pittsburgh Steelers -- on their Christian beliefs.
But it's Tebow who is the current lightning rod, having drawn recent ridicule from the likes of Bill Maher and Saturday Night Live." In the Washington Post, Sally Jenkins writes an incisive column about Tebow's critics.
"What is so threatening about Tebow?" Jenkins asks. "Anyone who listens to Tebow knows he doesn’t do Jesus talk, he’s mostly show and no tell."
She concludes that "we’re ill at ease with intrusions of personal faith . . . Just when you’re trying to mindlessly surrender to an afternoon of pleasure, Tebow begs the question, what if faith actually, well, works?"
Fair enough. Just let's not reduce it to noodling over numerology. Tweeter Deadspin noted that another 3:16 -- from the book of Revelation -- has Jesus saying: "Because you are lukewarm -- neither hot nor cold -- I am about to spit you out of my mouth."
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