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The Daily Need

Tim Tebow, Bill Maher and me

Bill Maher and Tim Tebow. Photos: AP Photo/Chris Pizzello and AP Photo/Julie Jacobson

In a bifurcated, dichotomized, split-down-the-middle, red-blue America, is it possible to be a fan of both Tim Tebow and Bill Maher?

I say yes.

Tebow, of course, is the God-fearing quarterback of the really-fun-to-watch (in the fourth quarter, at least) Denver Broncos. Earlier this season he used his legs and his guts to lead his team to an unlikely string of dramatic comebacks that almost overshadowed his trademark move: the on-field kneeling in prayer known as “Tebowing.” Maher, of course, is the atheist comedian who hosts the HBO show, “Real Time With Bill Maher.” His act frequently includes scathing jokes about religion that are the antithesis of Tebow’s public demonstrations of his faith.

Or are they?

You’ve heard the story by now. “Wow, Jesus just f*#@$d Tim Tebow bad,” Maher tweeted after the Broncos took a clobbering at the hands of the near-hapless Buffalo Bills on Christmas Eve. The Maher-haters responded with force. Reliably, a Fox anchor called him “disgusting, vile trash” in a tweet. The Washington Post columnist Sally Jenkins hit him much harder, in the only spot that really hurts a comic: She said he’s not funny.

But for my money, saying Bill Maher isn’t funny is like saying what the Tebow-haters – among them “expert” commentators and even some NFL players and executives — have been saying for a good part of this season: that he isn’t a good quarterback. For example in early November, a Yahoo writer quoted a Detroit Lions player calling Tebow a “joke,” and others around the league describing him as “atrocious,” “terrible” and “completely exposed.”

Were the critics allowing their annoyance with his Tebowing to influence their evaluation of his football abilities?  God – or nobody, depending on your point of view – knows. Part of the criticism, surely, came from his detractors being unable to see past Tebow’s unorthodox style, which includes a bruising manner of running more characteristic of a linebacker than a quarterback, and, more damning, his being an awkward and often ineffective passer. But, to pull up a comparison from back in the day, when Joe Kapp led the Minnesota Vikings to Super Bowl IV, his bullish running and lousy passing were seen not as evidence of his being a bad player, but of the kind of grittiness and toughness that defines a winner. But in Tebow, those same scrappy traits are seen as evidence that he’s unfit for his job.

By far the most intelligent thing I’ve seen in print about Tebow was written by the fantasy football writer Chris Liss. Fantasy football (as many of you know, and just as many of you probably couldn’t care less about knowing) is a competition among fans who choose players to make up imaginary teams, and then compete against each by compiling those players’ statistics. It’s a cold, hard game of numbers, with no room for emotion or home-team rooting if you want to be good at it. In a post called “Long Live Tim Tebow,” Liss noted the Tebow criticism I cited above, and wrote:

I’m rooting for the guy, both because he’s an exciting player to watch with a unique style of play and because I like seeing the apologists for the conventional wisdom proven wrong yet again. And who cares what his religious beliefs are?

Not me. When Tebow scores a touchdown and the Tebowing ensues, it’s just part of the show. Just as when Bill Maher mocks Tebow in the most (well, probably not the most) coarse way possible, that’s just part of his show. Mahering, if you will.

The Post’s Jenkins asks whether or not the comedian would have made the same comments about Tebow had the quarterback been a Muslim. If you watch “Real Time,” you know the answer is that yes, he would have.  You’d also know that Bill Maher is funny. Just as if you watch football, you know that Tim Tebow is a good quarterback. I say thank God – or don’t, as you please – for them both.

Tom Casciato is the senior features producer for Need to Know.


  • Anya

    Who are we to tell Tim Tebow he can’t pray in the end zone? How is that worse than Terrell Owens autographing the bell or that stupid thing Aaron Rodgers does? I still wouldn’t draft Tebow to my fantasy team, though.

  • Johan Bracko

    Statistically, Tebow ranks in the third quarter of most quarterback rankings…

  • kurtzl41

    how about about a person of Islamic persuasion was to bow to mecca….would you still be supportive? 

  • macDamon

    It’s fucking gross…keep your religion to yourself…it’s a private matter, if you are so faithful why do you believers feel the need to keep reenforcing that belief every five minutes. My Grandparents where strong Christians, but in their day it was considered vulgar to just start parying or banging on about God unless it was a somber occasion…or grace.

  • Karmic Mishap

    This piece misses the point. “Tebowing” isn’t “just part of the show” like
    other ostentatious football celebrations. It’s a public display of religion which
    even the Bible would condemn as being the prayer of a hypocrite who is
    more concerned with being seen praying than doing so properly. It’s
    correct in saying that it doesn’t matter what his beliefs are, but
    rather, as kurtzl41 seems to be saying in the comment posted here, that the problem is more that this man insists on pushing an awareness of his beliefs on others with his little shows of prayer.

    Many religious people claim that atheists are inconsiderate of their
    beliefs, and it’s true that some are. However, those same people don’t
    understand how their public displays of religion (not to mention their
    efforts to codify religious teachings in our laws) are disrespectful to
    those who hold other beliefs. Unless it would be all right for a QB in
    the NFL to throw his arms out and cry “THERE IS NO GOD! HAHA! TAKE
    THAT!” every once in a while, this behavior should be recognized as the
    rude, arrogant behavior that it is.

  • macDamon

    This guys public praying is for theatre and or proselytization…he could pray silently to himself…this is pure politics.

  • Streezy

    Players have been thanking God way before Tim Tebow, they have been praying before the media hijacked and called it “tebowing, and there were no complaints.  But I will say religion is comparable to sexual orientation and should be kept private to the extent this can occur.

  • Streezy

    Yes Kurtz, they could do that too. They could say Buddha bless or any religious salutation.  They would just have to be ready for the media to take hold of it and cause a firestorm, because people are insecure about their own beliefs.

  • Gawdhelpus

    The reason Tim Tebow’s actions are so disgusting is that religion is suppose to be a private affair and when he does his public display of prayer it’s like he’s saying “look at me – see what a good person I am?” Sad and despicable 

  • Aceofspades

    I Just want KC to put an end to this madness on Sunday. RAIDER NATION!

  • gawdhelpus

    If he would spend as much time concentrating on his game as he does on prayer he might be a better quarterback. 

  • Eric Moore

    Tebow is not a good quarterback–he is a running back that can sorta throw. The best quarterbacks in the league consistently have the highest completion percentages in the league: Brady, Brees, Manning, Rodgers….the other Manning. Tebow has the lowest completion percentage since Akili Smith in 2000 (although he might catch JaMarcus Russell who posted a 48.8 in 2009). Look you don’t achieve greatness and win Super Bowls by having the lowest completion percentage in the league. Today’s NFL is a passing league and Tebow’s style of play was great for 1956 but this is 2011. You have to throw the ball, and Timmy simply can’t. And it’s not like he is going to get magically better. He never had time to develop the skills that it requires to be an NFL QB–passing from under center, quick reads, not staring at your target, looking off defenders, getting a quick pass off consistently, throwing into tight spaces, the footwork, and the list goes on. How do I know this? I’ve watched every Broncos game. Quite honestly if he couldn’t run the ball, he would not be starting for the Broncos. But the job of the quarterback is to throw the ball. In today’s NFL they have running backs to run the ball. The winning streak has been some skill but mostly luck. Do you realize that Tebow’s 7 wins this year came against 5 teams that did not have the quarterback that started for their respective teams at the beginning of the year (Miami, Raiders, 1/2 of the Chiefs game, Vikings, Chicago)? And that 4 of the games were against teams that did not have their starting running back (Raiders, Chiefs, Vikings, Chicago)? The only ‘quality wins were against the Bolts and Jets. Rivers is having his worst statistical year and Sanchez is, well as an Jets fan can attest, mediocre in any given game. I’ll leave you with this: Kordell Stewart, who had a similar skill set as Tebow, was 11-5 in his first season as a full time starter, then went 7-9, 5-6, 7-4, and 13-3. Yeah he won some games, but as Cowher found out, it takes a quarterback that can pass to win a Super Bowl. I hope that Denver doesn’t waste as much time. 

  • loapalehorse

    Who says a person’s religious beliefs are to be a private affair?  

  • loapalehorse

    On what basis do you say that “religion is comparable to sexual orientation and should be kept private to the extent this can occur”?

  • loapalehorse

    Or else, perhaps, his religious identification is to him a fundamental aspect of what identifies him as a person.  That you do not share that conviction or identification does not in any way diminish such on his part.

  • loapalehorse

    Acts of emotional response are lauded by fans and efforts by the NFL to restrict such acts are often condemned by making reference to the “No Fun  League.”  While I can understand that there are people who do not understand much less appreciate Mr. Tebow’s actions 
    (as I have little appreciation for some of the antics of players who want to pantomime some version of chest-thumping superiority after a singular play despite their team being down by three touchdowns or worse despite it costing their team an unsportsmanlike penalty) , I find it awfully presumptuous to judge the sincerity of his actions  as any less an emotional response  because of his personal world view which shapes his character and self-identity.


    Bill Maher is a sick puppy….watching sick puppies is not my cup of tea. Maybe hiring a veterinarian to watch him might improve his health…hehehe…whew!!!

  • Larry Lundgren

    two hands working are worth a million clasped in prayer….when the Broncos lose is it because Tim didn’t pray enough? give me a break…..:(

  • Justin Z

    Loapalehorse: Ever hear of the Bible?

    And when thou prayest,
    thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in
    the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of
    men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.  But thou, when thou
    prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which
    is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly. 

    –Matthew, 6:5-6

  • Tired of hypocrisy

    Tim Tebow is a running back pretending to be a QB. I enjoy watching him confuse defenses for a few weeks. Unfortunately for Timmy, his QB’ng 15 minutes are up. If Tebow is to have a long career in the NFL it will be as a Ronnie Brown wild-cat type RB.
    What I can not stand is the free pass that Tebow gets for being spokesperson for the hate group “Focus on the Family”. This right-wing fundamentalist/terror organization hides behind “Christianity” while it seeks to demonize and “cure” Gay Americans, take away women’s right to choose and to make our laws based upon their radical biblical beliefs It is with that in mind that really makes people cringe when he gets all Goddy after each 1st down, touchdown and win as if God would really have his money on one NFL team over another.

  • jan

    Tebow lost yesterday.  

  • rick

    I also find Bill Maher funny.  I also find him likely to go over a line of decency. Not the type of decency that gets you a $325,000 fine from the FCC.  But the line that occasionally diminishes our already diminished sense of civility. After condemning Glenn Beck for Hitler references and conservatives for their intolerance of diverse opinions, he referenced Hitler and showed intolerance towards people of other opinions.  
    His “new rules” segments are thought provoking and often funny as can be.  However, sometimes Bill is just cheap and intolerant.  I will be watching when his new season of shows returns to HBO.  I hope I catch him on one of his good days.

  • Laverneuswigs

    Sorry, Tom. Maher is not funny. His jokes are painfully predictable. When you hear his name mentioned in pop culture, it’s never about anything funny. The only thing that’s funny is that he gets so worked up over someone that he believes doesn’t exist

  • Larry

    sorry lavern…..he is funny…..funny like george carlin was….funny because he is absolutely right in not believing in fairy tales….question for you? you believe your car will start….you don’t hope it will…..conversely, you hope your father in the sky exists but you don’t believe it….BIG DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE WORDS “BELIEVE” AND “HOPE”….JUST LIKE THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN “LOVE” AND “LIKE”….MOST SO CALLED CHRISTIANS AND OTHER RELIGIOUS PEOPLE ARE TOTALLY BRAINWASHED INTO USING THE WORD “BELIEVE” WHEN THEY REALLY MEAN “HOPE”….
    i hope you’re right….but if i believed you were right i think i would have to have my head examinined and have everything i have learned about science and the cosmos deleted from my brain….but hey, that’s just me…..:)

  • Soccerstarchick12

    what the heck.  Are you so seriously writitng this as news?  Is their nothing more you can find out there?  How many players do we see make the sign of the cross during a game?  So a young, yes young isn’t this his first year as a starter qb?, gets down on one knee on the sidelines, he didn’t start the term tebowing.  Does that really hurt anyone?  A comic, using the F-word is so funny, right?  well it’s a shame that the Public Broadcasting Service spreads their news.  I thought they were for the Public.

  • Dan

    You don’t seem very tolerant either.  Since “choice” and homosexuality weren’t the topic…
    1.  Abortion kills not only the fetus, but leaves a lifetime scar on the mother.    Ask any psychologist…the data speaks for itself.  Tim Tebow’s mother was encouraged to have an abortion by the way…because she was having medical problems during her pregnancy.  If she had, she would have prevented a Heisman Trophy player, a pro quarterback, a man who visits countless sick kids, and gives lots of time and money many charities…I think that if I was the “fetus” that was going to be killed I would be against it to.  And oh yeah…if Tim Tebow was aborted…you wouldn’t have been able to make your post…and Bill Maher (who isn’t funny…just mean) wouldn’t have had his headlines. Hmmmm….  2. If someone decides to live a Homosexual lifestyle…and then sometime later decides he/she doesn’t want to do that any more.  Is that permissible in your world view?  You see in both of these cases…the reason that God cares…is because both of these things that you brought up….will hurt you.Homosexuality is not a healthy lifestyle.  If a man engages in homosexual relations with another man….unprotected…statistically speaking…he will significantly shorten his lifespan.  Why would you want people to die?  The “hateful” organizations that you mention actually desire that people live.  And that is God’s desire as well.  Because He loves all of those people…including you.

  • megapotamus

    I don’t know or care a dern thing about football generally but I know enough to understand how dated and contradictory this column has become in a few days. Maher’s talent is purely subjective. If you are the kind of idiot whose atheism is more a matter of faith and proselytizing than the average 700 Club viewer you might find his insipid hijinx amusing as he reinforces your own hatreds, bigotry and ignorance. That is sufficient to keep his crummy cable show operating, understood. Tebow’s virtue on the field is a matter of hard statistics. Those statistics took a good goosing the other day in a hailstorm of 316s. Mathematics shows this event to be somewhat less unlikely than spontaneous generation but not my much. And the ultimate miracle? Maher silent. Oh, what a perverse, sad little man is this post middle-aged hipster in his long shorts and dying smirk. Look, I can climb a tree! Go planking, pathetic Maherites. Then rewatch the tivoed Real Time. And cry that a mostly indifferent universe has a special dose of indifference for you and Bill Maher.

  • JustMy Opinion

    On the other hand, Tebow may be trying to remember what the coach said to do next! Everyone’s beliefs are in their mind and they can say they have faith and quote scripture and sit in the amen corner but if they really don’t believe in a higher power, you’ll never know. They are very often simply trying to be a good Republican.

  • Changin

    Dan, 1st of all you’re not a woman, I am, and have had TWO abortions, and you better believe, I have NO REGRETS! I’m just happy those Fetus were RETURNED to God, not here being surrounded by HYPOCRITES like you! Hypocrites like you, get girls pregnant leaves them along to suffer the Burden by herself and she ends up having the baby then dumping it, leaving it to die in some dirty TRAILER, or buried alive, left on some doorstep. (Look up some of those Cold Case Files, to learn whappens to 15 yr olds getting pregnant with nowhere to turn)

    Sorry, but I refused to bring a child in this world whereby I can’t take care of myself, let along a child, and people like you, are NO WHERE to be found to take the responsiblility off my hands or help out with money and a place to stay!

    You selfish, horny men, pursue young girls, dump your seeds, then on your way to pursue other naive girls. What’s wrong with CONDOM’S, instead of Viagra! Society should be focus on birth control for MEN. MEN LITERALLY GET AWAY WITH BEING IRRESPONSIBLE, Leaving women to shoulder the responsibility! To bad the tables can’t be turned and MEN get pregnant and carry the child for 9 long months to wonder how you’re going to take care of this child for LIFE!

    You can bet your last dollar any woman whose HAD TO HAVE an abortion, don’t regret it, the one’s whose had a change of mind are just LYING, or else they would have had the baby in the 1st place, they are just PLAYING TO HYPOCRITES like YOU!

  • 1234567798

    Bill Maher can F#$% off and stop making fun of someone else because he feels bad fo rhimself he is just jealous