Rick Reilly and Tim Tebow Walk Into a Bar…

It was bound to happen. Lone Pop Culture Has AIDS Sportswriting Hall of Shame inductee Rick Reilly and Timothy Richard Tebow were bound to cross paths. And like the crossing of the streams in Ghostbusters, the result is too powerful and frightening for us to process. We can’t fully comprehend its might. We can’t stare straight at this column, or our minds will be lost to the world forever, like the unfortunate souls in Infinite Jest who view “the entertainment.”

Riles and Tebow. Together at last. Abandon all hope, ye who enter here.

I’ve come to believe in Tim Tebow for what he does off a football field, which is represent the best parts of us, the parts I want to be and so rarely am.

Yep. We’re in for it.

Who among us is this selfless?

Every week, Tebow picks out someone who is suffering, or who is dying, or who is injured, flies them and their families to the Broncos game, rents them a car, puts them up in a nice hotel, buys them dinner (usually at a Dave and Buster’s), gets them and their families pregame passes, visits with them just before kickoff (!), gets them 30-yard line tickets down low, visits with them after the game (sometimes for an hour), has them walk him to his car, and sends them off with a basket of gifts.

I would love to see Tebow’s selection process for this whole thing. How does he choose from among the hundreds of letters he gets from the ill, the infirm, the disabled, the gay-who-want-to-be-straight? Does he choose at random? Based on perceived need? Does his consult his minister? Rick Santorum? His mother? Does he assign each sufferer a sabermetric-style number of points? Does he judge based on SARS (Suffering Above Replacement Sufferer)? The world needs answers.

And Dave and Buster’s? Wow. Timmy goes all out for the sick, y’all. Maybe the line at Applebee’s was too long. Do you he think after dinner he makes amputees and cancer patients stand and watch while he plays NFL 2 Minute Drill to improve his woeful accuracy?

Home or road, win or lose, hero or goat.

Ha ha ha ha ha, it would be fantastic if after a loss (featuring a Tebowian line of 5-16, 48 yards, 0 TDs, 2 INTs, 1 fumble), Tebow yanked away their gift basket.

Also, what is in the gift basket? My guesses:

  • A copy of Left Behind
  • Two tickets to the Creationism Museum
  • A customized Broncos jersey with “Christ 33” on the back
  • This
  • Potpourri

Remember last week, when the world was pulling its hair out in the hour after Tebow had stunned the Pittsburgh Steelers with an 80-yard OT touchdown pass to Demaryius Thomas in the playoffs? And Twitter was exploding with 9,420 tweets about Tebow per second? When an ESPN poll was naming him the most popular athlete in America?

Tebow was spending that hour talking to 16-year-old Bailey Knaub about her 73 surgeries so far and what TV shows she likes.

“OMG, I love Vampire Diaries too! Katherine is such a ‘B’!”

Even though sometimes-fatal Wegener’s granulomatosis has left Bailey with only one lung, the attention took her breath away.

Um…what? As a friend just pointed out to me, that doesn’t make any kind of sense. Doesn’t that mean that Tebow put her life in jeopardy? You probably shouldn’t take the breath away from someone with one lung.

“Why me? Why should I inspire her?” he said. “I just don’t feel, I don’t know, adequate. Really, hearing her story inspires me.”


Also, as a QB, you’re not even, I don’t know, adequate.

It’s not just NFL defenses that get Tebowed. It’s kids who will die soon.

Do they die from the Tebowing? Is Tebowing a metaphor for molestation here?

There’s not an ounce of artifice or phoniness or Hollywood in this kid Tebow and I’ve looked everywhere for it.

Game recognize game.

Take 9-year-old Zac Taylor, a child who lives in constant pain. Immediately after Tebow shocked the Chicago Bears with a 13-10 comeback win, Tebow spent an hour with Zac and his family. At one point, Zac, who has 10 doctors, asked Tebow if he has a secret prayer for hospital visits. Tebow whispered it in his ear.

“Dear Jesus: Thank You for not letting my mama abort me. If I had been aborted, I couldn’t be a hero to millions and spread Your good news. Please let this MRI show that I do not have the shoulder and elbow of a wizened 80-year-old woman, as John Elway screamed at me today.”

So that’s it. I’ve given up giving up on him. I’m a 100 percent believer. Not in his arm. Not in his skills. I believe in his heart, his there-will-definitely-be-a-pony-under-the-tree optimism, the way his love pours into people, right up to their eyeballs…



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Filed under Sports Has AIDS, The Dilemma

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