If you watched the Allstate Sugar Bowl on New Year's, you probably noticed two things: that Tim Tebow hardly could have been more brilliant in his final collegiate game and that his iconic biblical eyeblack referred to Ephesians 2:8-10. If so, you would have been twice as observant as many sportswriters. They seemed to only notice Tebow's performance. Conversely, many bloggers seemed only to notice the eyeblack -- and far too many of those commentaries were condescending and derogatory.
The Associated Press, The New York Times, even ESPN.com, which often does outperforms other media outlets in getting religion, were mum on Ephesians. Instead, ESPN focused on the fitting end to Tebow's collegiate legacy and his uncertain future as a pro (and the Gators' uncertain future with, or without, Urban Meyer):
Thus a week of stress and doubt in the Gators camp ended in a low-stress, no-doubt rout. Meyer, who will now head into a vaguely defined leave of absence, had the luxury of pulling Tebow in the fourth quarter for a long and loud ovation from the Florida faithful.
A guy who has always worn his emotions on his jersey sleeve kept it in check this time. Smiles, yes. Tears, no.
Tim Tebow's unparalleled work here is done. And after his first night as a certified gunslinger, the gilded body of work is now complete.
"My time at Florida was special," he said. "It was better than a dream. Honestly, I dreamed of being a Gator since I was 6 years old, and it was better than I could have dreamed."
Good stuff. But if you're familiar with Ephesians 2:8-10, you can see how apt it would have been for the reporter to mention it here:
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith -- and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God -- not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
Tebow was, after all, a Christian hero who constantly reminded the world his talents were not his own. In fact, the first thing Tebow said when handed the most outstanding player award was, "I'd like to thank my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ."
A lot of athletes and celebrities do that. But none really seem as sincere as Tebow. If this is starting to sound like hagiography, I apologize, and I have no such illusions. But I do think it would have been worth mentioning. Not because most sports fans don't already know the role of God in Tebow's life, but because the detail of his eyeblack seemed particularly relevant on this occasion.
At least one newspaper agreed, though not one I typically look to for thoughtful or in-depth reporting:
Tebow, who is known for touting bible verses during football games, tore through the Louisiana Superdome with "Ephesians 2: 8-10" printed beneath his eyes. The reference suggests that, despite his team's win, Tebow will not be boasting anytime soon.
The New York Daily News followed that paragraph by quoting the passage from Ephesians. That's it -- and it was all that was needed.