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How would Tebow do without God?

October 22, 2012|By Matt Lindner | For RedEye

Jesus may have turned water into wine, but the N.Y. Jets' Tim Tebow has managed to perform another kind of modern-day miracle by turning his faith into fame and fortune.

How else do you explain the fact that one of the most talked about players in all of sports is a gimmick backup quarterback who moonlights as the guy who protects the left side of the punter?

Never before has an NFL playbook combined with what some view as life's ultimate playbook to create an almost untamable marketing monster out of a guy who is, at best, mediocre at the quarterback position he was drafted to play.

Which begs the question: What if Tebow were an agnostic as opposed to a hard-core Christian who praises the Lord so effusively that even noted God glorifier Kurt Warner told him to tone it down?

Moreover, would fans be as tolerant or accepting of his decision to openly reject religion in favor of simply quietly trying to live a good life without converting others?

Absolutely not.

While plenty of athletes are open about their God-embracing ways, far fewer are open about being godless, the most prominent being disgraced cyclist Lance Armstrong.

This despite the fact that our society is becoming increasingly godless. Church attendance has been declining for years, and one in five Americans say they don't identify with a particular religion.

This is good for society on the whole. The more people want to learn about themselves and their faith, the better public discourse we will have on meaningful topics, as that curiosity leads to us educating ourselves on the world around us.

Those are the same discussions likely being held in locker rooms by the guys standing just outside the prayer circle, contemplating who we are and how we got here.

Yet admitting that religious curiosity would be tantamount to public image suicide.

People who subscribe to organized religion still represent the vast majority of our country. Consequently, they have the greatest buying power and thus the greatest influence in shaping social norms.

That's good for guys like Tebow. The more Bible verses he espouses and missionary work he does, the brighter his star will continue to shine regardless of what he does on the field. His strengths as a Christian will continue to overcome his weaknesses as a football player, ensuring he's financially well off for years to come.

But that doesn't necessarily make it right.

Thing is, athletes don't necessarily need the assistance of a higher power to help them hit a ball or score a goal.

Just once, it'd be nice to hear an athlete publicly acknowledge that.

Matt Lindner is a RedEye special contributor.

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