Growing up in Colorado, I quickly discovered two things in the world of sports. 1.) I don’t care about sports. 2.) Go Broncos.
I was a youth during the infamous Elway era. People from Denver did and do worship that man. If JE had any political aspirations, he has a never-expiring solid shot with being the Governor of Colorado. (But dear God, Elway, please stick to selling cars and being Vice President of jock straps or whatever, I beg of you…) One of my fifth grade teachers had an obnoxious cardboard cut out of Mr. Number 7 in her classroom, and it stood there in a completely un-ironic way. South Park doesn’t even touch the man for satirical purposes, or Ed McCaffery or even Terrell Davis for that matter. Mike Shanahan, in his Bronco days, was this googly eyed Jedi master, and Shannon Sharpe was a charismatic Hercules as far as any self respecting Coloradoan was concerned. Bumper stickers that read “If God Isn’t a Bronco Fan, Then Why Are Sunsets Blue and Orange?” garnered car honks, and knocking down the old Mile High Stadium to build Invesco using our tax dollars was never a questionable decision.
Even with not understanding the sport, I knew that the Broncos were awfully good at it. And, as much as I detested the earth shaking screams from the basement on a perfectly quiet Sunday afternoon, it made me happy that the masses were happy. I don’t care who you are, it always feels good to win. And for a long time, (no Sheen pun intended) Colorado was winning.
Then came the dark years, when I was almost relieved to not give a shit. Elway retired, some other dudes came in, Culter was a ginormous douche who flipped off the most devout of Broncos fans, and, frankly, we were just really really bad.
And I know I am brushing over a lot of skill analysis and whatnot with “how the game is played” and to be perfectly honest, I am so okay with that. In fact, I’m going to state right now that I have never fully understood the god damn game of football (It’s like, when I finally start to get it, the word “Encroachment” or something is thrown out there and I’m like “Seriously, what the fuck is that about?” Too many pussy rules if you ask me. Fucking football.) I am in no way qualified to be a sports analyst, much to the dismay of my father and basically the Tafel name. I’m not going to pretend to suddenly know something I don’t actually follow, or claim that I am “so one of the guys” because I am writing this bit, and aren’t I so fucking cool for doing so? My degree is in Theater. I get that I don’t get it.
But I do appreciate a good story. And what is happening right now in Denver, even if we end the whole thing today, it is a fucking amazing story.
I sometimes think about what my life would be like if I was friends with Tim Tebow. And I think that the most amazing thing to come out of this whole she-bang is that I actually now want to be friends with Tebow.
When I first heard of the dude, I thought he had to be this MASSIVE cheese-dick. As a Gator, Tebow was in a Focus on the Family commercial during the Super Bowl and I thought “Yeah, he hugs his mom now, but once they yell cut I bet he is back at his dorm snorting coke and getting his dick sucked.” I’m serious, that is what I thought. And, yeah, maybe that’s an obvious snap judgment (and a completely wrong one, as I’ve quickly learned) but, honestly, is it really a far fetched judgement? Forgive me if I am a little jaded with the whole do-gooder college and pro athlete thing, when we have a laundry list of men with cross tattoos who happen to get convicted of rape, drugs, dog fighting, being a baby daddy to like eight different women, changing their name to something retarded like Spanish numbers, impregnating super models just to leave them for another younger hotter super model, and dating Jessica Simpson (all things that are undoubtedly highly offensive). As a non sports follower, this is the kind of shit that I read about and hold on to. And I know, I know, it’s kind of like saying Bill Clinton was a bad president because he cheated on his wife, I get that. But still, I have found myself time and time again hating the player and not the game (Well sometimes it’s the game too. I mean, why the hell is there rule change for OT come playoffs? Do jock dudes just looooove rules or something?)
And then I found out Tebow was drafted onto the Broncos. And I thought, “Fuck. I have decided to hate him and now Coloradoans have to like him.” It was a true Sophie’s Choice moment for me. Do I like him just because he was a Bronco now? (And, also, just because he was NOT Jay Culter?) OR do I dislike Bronco fans for liking Tebow just because he was a Bronco now? I went with ignoring the dilemma and just hating Bears fans instead.
Then, Then, THEN I found out Tebow was as innocent and pure as the very first Focus on the Family commercial depicted him. I had to have multiple people tell me “no, dude, he’s the real legit Christian deal” before it sunk in, not to mention watch a few press conferences when he was all like “I’d first like to thank my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” before I became a believer.
Not a believer in THAT, just a believer in that he wasn’t a cheese dick.
Not like knowing he was an oober Christian helped his case for me. I’m not knocking his religion, but it’s not like by knowing this we suddenly shared a common interest, in fact it was more likely he was going to come out with some real socially conservative statement that would set me off again. Timmy was gonna have to fight to win me over.
It bothered me that people were looking toward Tebow as a solution to our losing problem. I pitied Orton. I was bummed we were doing terrible. I also forgot to ever watch a game or pretend to want to watch a game… ever.
And then we started winning.
And then all was okay, Tebow and I were totes good, buddy buddy, fo shizzle, I’m on board and IlovehimIlovehimIlovehim.
Oh, come on. What do you take me for? No, even that didn’t phase me. We were winning, but barely, most certainly pissing off every team that we miraculously beat (and I don’t blame them for that pissy-offy-ness), and now the masses were doing WHAT WAS CLEARLY JUST TAKING A KNEE and calling it TEBOWING. Overrated much? (I sometimes wonder if there is a man in this world who was taking a knee to propose to his girlfriend only to have her assume he is Tewbowing before realizing what he was actually doing. And that thought makes me so sad.)
And I know it wasn’t Timmy who was provoking this. I think I was just super worried with putting all our eggs in one Christian Virgin basket. It just felt like we were setting ourselves up for failure and if Tebow came crashing down, so would be the egos of all Colorado sports fans, much to the delight and torment of every other sports fan ever.
I hated the idea of moving somewhere and getting a snide “so how about that Tebow?” crap all the time. Because I don’t follow sports, so I would have no retaliation.
I once had an old boss who was a big Bears fan that was constantly smug about the Broncos sucking. He would point blank say, “The Broncos are fucking terrible” and all I could do was shrug and say “ Well, I don’t like Cutler” and he would then list all the reasons Cutler and the Bears were awesome and how ashamed I should be for being from Colorado cuz we now have zero good sports teams and all I would do was mentally shout
“Go… FUCK YOURSELF DUDE!!! YOU’RE THE MESSIEST PERSON I HAVE EVER MET AND, AND, AND… YOU SHOULD PAY ME MORE!!!! And yeah, I WENT TO A CUBS GAME BECAUSE IT WAS AT WRIGLEY FIELD AND I THOUGHT THE VINES WERE PRETTY COOL EVEN THOUGH ONLY TRUE CHICAGOANS LIKE THE WHITE SOX, BUT I GUESS I AM NOT A TRUE CHICAGOAN AND P.S. YOU CREEP ME OUT!!!!”
But I didn’t, I just said “Gee, I guess the Broncos do suck this year. Ho hum.”
All I could think now was how Tebowing was going to get me in a lot of trouble in any future city I would move to. Nobody should get the right to squash my pride in Colorado, nobody. And yes, I did just say that Dealing Doug style. And yes, that is a Colorado reference. Suck it.
It was December 11th 2011, it was my friend’s birthday and all she wanted to do was watch the Bronco game. I was hung over, so sitting and possibly snoozing through a game sounded fair enough, plus I love my friend and it WAS her birthday and blahblahblahblah, so I watched the game. It was against the Bears (da fucking Bears) and we were losing, so I fiddled on my phone as the group watched the game in silence. The birthday girl was wearing standard fan attire: jersey, dangly Bronco earrings, a Fat Tire in hand. (This was the same girl whose mom was said fifth grade cardboard cutout teacher, I was in no place to quip any sarcastic remarks today.)
And then I saw it with my own eyes. And not just the crazy ass tie at the end of the fourth quarter (who knew going out of bounds was so important?) and not even the crazy ass over time kick for the win (Tebow really shines in what I have now dubbed “The Fifth Quarter.” I think if they changed regulation play to five quarters, Broncos would win every game ever. It’s not a long shot with how many times the NFL changes their damn rules either. They should look at it for commercial reasons. Longer games = more money? Eh? Eh? Wait, what am I saying? Am I really advocating for football games to be longer? WHAT ARE YOU DOING TO ME TEBOW?) What I saw was not just a crazy ass win, but I also saw something I love more than anything in the world.
I saw crazy ass enthusiasm.
There were hugs all around in this sports loving basement. There was an insistence that we drink another beer. A smile from ear to ear on every avid watcher. A fall to the knees, Spartacus fists in the air, yell-from-the-belly act of joy from a man over the age sixty (I’m just assuming that his knees hurt after. And no, I am not ageist. I’m twenty-five and you couldn’t pay me to drop to my knees like that.)
It is no surprise that the game was the only thing my Dad could talk about for a few days, but it WAS a surprise when it was also the only thing my female co-workers could talk about too. Here were two women who clearly piss each other off, and they were smiling away, bonded by an overtime field goal. I started to see that this joy was uniting us.
Tebow and the Broncos were even an SNL sketch! That’s when you know it is something bigger than a Colorado water cooler chat. As a person who watches SNL religiously (you could even say SNL is my football game to a football fan equivalent) it is VERY RARE that a sports sketch makes it onto the show and even rarer that the sketch works. (see Charles Barkley’s most recent stint, painful) The only times I think sports and comedy have ever worked well together have been a) Major League b) Space Jam and c) the Tebow SNL sketch. Granted it was the last sketch of the show (sans host) but STILL, this was mainstream big. NOW Tebow is part of the comedy world. I’m slowly thawing.
Digging further into my rather hallow sports knowledge, it occurred to me that this may be the biggest sports story that has ever happened in my lifetime. This may be a full blown un-truth to sports aficionados, but for those in the secular non-sports worshipping world the only underdog sporting events that I can actively think of as big as the Broncos in 2011-12 season would be the Red Sox finally winning the 2004 World Series and the 1996 summer Olympics USA Women’s Gymnastics team. (Kerri Strug won with a BROKEN ankle! Are you fucking kidding me?) Michael Phelps can be wedged in there, I guess, but let’s face it, he’s no fucking underdog. His torso isn’t even an underdog.
And then I watched a ten minute segment of the Bears game where Tebow was mic’ed. And finally I jumped on the bandwagon.
Tim Tebow has to be the nicest human being alive. Not once in that incredibly stressful game did Tebow raise his voice, curse, talk smack, get frustrated with his Butterfinger teammates or talk back to any coaching coming his way. While he did have time to sing “My God is An Awesome God” during warm ups and compliment Bears defensemen on their “good play” (i.e. massive sack to his groin area), he also did something that I think has been the true reason behind this Tebow fascination. Tim Tebow, in all his crappy QB glory, was inspiring his team.
I’ve had many bosses in my lifetime, and the ones that were hair pulling, gonna-die-from-a-heart-attack, yell-til-it-gets-done type were the ones I dreaded working for. In fact, I almost wanted to secretly sabotage them by doing a sub-par job. (Most of these bosses were restaurant managers. Tell me, why does food make people so cranky?) Same goes to the whiney, complainy type bosses. (I’m sorry, but I have a hard time believing that any person got “no sleep” last night. Maybe you got restless sleep, or little sleep, but if you’re my boss and you tell me you got “no sleep” for a week straight, I’m just gonna roll my eyes as I’m pretty sure you’d be near death if that were actually true.) No, I don’t really want to sabotage whiners, but I also have little urge to excel. This is not mean, it is true. And it’s not just me, it’s everyone. Take note, bosses.
I’ve also had bosses who always remained calm, fair, positive, and passionate. And you know those types too. They aren’t doormats, but they also never make you feel stupid over a tiny hiccup. Good bosses are the ones that really give a shit about their job and through their kindness and genuine desire to know their employees, they get results. It’s those types of bosses that make me want to do shit I would otherwise not give a piss about, like sell boxes of tea or take their daughter to the (gulp) Children’s Museum.
Tebow is that good boss. And I know a lot of semi-spiritual stuff is being thrown around with these wins. “I Believe” “WWTD” “Tebow IS Jesus” (Okay the last one is only a maybe, but I’m 90% sure there is that cardboard sign out there.) But really the truth behind Tebow’s awesomeness is that he is a good leader who other players want to work with. How he channels this genuine kindness (and I have no doubt at this point that his purity is completely genuine, like alarmingly so, no secret dick sucking here) is no doubt through his faith. And you know what, that’s fine. I’m not going to go to church anytime soon (or, like, fucking ever) but if what your beliefs makes you a good person then I am all for it.
I get it now. I get seeing wedding pictures of newlyweds Tebowing. Sure it’s just kneeling, but it is an indication of the times. Now they will look back at the wedding day (if they stay together. 50/50 chance, people!) and know they were married during the Bronco Tebow era. Those backpackers who are Tebowing in front of the Eiffel Tower now have a unspoken connection with that Tweeter who said “I’m Tebowing while I’m Chemo-ing!” Lost bets just got simpler to pay back. Families have “ the silly family photo pose” all worked out. We are all becoming connected and happier because of this fucking bizarre success story. Even if it ends next week, it will not be forgotten. And let’s face it, in the past twenty years the last events to “never be forgotten” have all been pretty damn sad.
This isn’t a supernatural phenomenon what’s happening with the Broncos, it’s a classic underdog story with an incredibly likable protagonist. And yes, I am finally on board. Just like I was on board with Smalls in Sandlot, Ray from Field of Dreams, and Samwise Gamgee in Rudy.
I imagine what our quirky friendship would be like, Tebow’s and mine. I think of how hilarious it would be if I sent him a shit ton of chapstick as a belated Christmas gift (his lips are soooo chapped!) and how he would jokingly send me back a bar of soap with a note that read “for your mouth.” (I imagine he wouldn’t like my constant use of the word fuck, but would be too kind to say anything. An adorable bar of soap with an even more adorable message would be his way of putting his foot down.) I think about his stint hosting SNL and how I would be included in his monologue as the famous funny friend asking him, “Are you sure you can do this?” much to the laughs of the audience. (I mean, really, it would be a fucking terrible episode without my help.) I imagine defending TT on Twitter, because I don’t care how religious and famous you are, it is nobody’s business with whether he’s a virgin or not (it’s a shame he already admitted he was. If only we had been buddies before, I would have interrupted that press conference to tell that reporter to go fuck himself.)
Tebow and I would have an explicit agreement to never talk religion or politics, though I’m sure one night after I’ve kicked back a few beers and he sipped on water I would accidentally ask him about that Focus on the Family nonsense. Paparazzis would even peg us as an item, though I’m sure my actual boyfriend of five years would be pretty pissed about that assumption. Plus, I am in no way attracted to Tebow. It would be like being attracted to a puppy who couldn’t throw a football well.
Most importantly, our friendship would lead me to box seats at every home game of the season. I would kick it with Elway (maybe even strike up a trade-in deal) and become the Jack Nicholson of Colorado football. My family would probably love my hook up, but I would be humble and content with my devoted love to the orange and blue.
Now if one person can even make a true fan out of me, you know that’s something fucking amazing.
New things learned:
1) I don’t care about sports.
2) Go Broncos
3) And God Bless Tim Tebow
And I don’t even really believe in God. Ho hum.
“When he threw that pass, I wanted to jump through the t.v. and kiss him on the mouth” – Jessica, Tea Tour Guide Supervisor.