A Christmas miracle.
This is Tendown 107. 106 is here.
After beating the Bears a couple of weeks ago, here was Tim Tebow:
"If you believe, then unbelievable things can sometimes be possible."
Some variation of that has been said by and about Tebow after each of Denver's wins. On ESPN, on talk radio, on Fox News, on the 700 Club - some variation of the discussion that Denver wins were building a case not just for Tebow's ability to play quarterback but for the existence of a higher power. No, seriously. Here's the general manager of the Chicago Bears - a man entrusted to make personnel decisions:
"I believe there is some divine intervention associated with what's taking place"
Here's what you won't hear after Tebow's 4 pick/2 pick 6 performance Saturday:
"Well, guess there's no God after all. My bad, dawg."
Because that's the space Christianity has carved for it in our culture. Last night, someone won 125 million bucks in the Powerball drawing and will honestly tell some local TV reporter that he prayed for it to happen when he bought the ticket - and that will close the local news telecast. What won't be part of that telecast - the anchor turning to the camera to say, "I prayed too when I my bought my ticket; and so did hundreds and hundreds of thousands of other people. We all lost. This wasn't news. Our bad, dawg."
The Detroit Lions are about to go to the playoffs for the first time since 1999.
Which is weird, right - if you remember what happened in 2007.
The 9-7 record of 2000 was somewhat misleading. After starting out hot, winning five of their first seven games, the Lions were expected to make the playoffs. Instead, they lost three of their final four games, finished just over .500 and missed the postseason. When the team resumed play in 2001, the oozing wound tore wide open. They finished with a franchise-worst 14 losses, burned through three quarterbacks and closed the final season of the Pontiac Silverdome in less-than-memorable fashion. The Lions haven’t had a winning season since.
“You could feel it walking into the locker room,” said Dave Wilson, the Lions chaplain of 23 years. “Nobody wanted to be there. Some guys hated each other. It was like, ‘How many more games do we have until we can get out of here and start over?’”
So much dissention created a catch 22. They couldn’t get along, so they couldn’t win. They couldn’t win because they couldn’t come to together.
“There was so much talent here my first year, but there wasn’t a team,” said Orlovsky, who was drafted by the Lions in 2005. “It was a lot more ‘me, me, me.’ There was so much of a losing concept.”
The wounded Lions weren’t fooling anybody. They were in trouble.
So what happened?
They turned to Jesus. They signed Jon Kitna, so devout he prayed as he walked to the line of scrimmage. They won 6 of their first 8 games in 2007. 20 teammates were said to have converted to
Christianity within a year and a half of his signing. It was a team of overt, devout, Christians who proclaimed Kitna's returning from a concussion to be not an act of medical negligence but instead an Act of God.:
"To me, a miracle is when I can’t explain something, and there is no explanation.” Kitna said. “The doctors can’t explain it. I can’t explain it. Nobody can explain it, and you cannot convince me that God wasn’t at work there for whatever reason. I don’t know why he did it. I don’t know why that happened, but all I know is I was out of it and then ended up being totally cognizant with no issues, no symptoms whatsoever.”
Bible studies replaced that old poisonous, losing Lions attitude that had submarined them previously. Here was Jemele Hill writing for ESPN.com:
"it's hard not to note the impact spirituality has had on the team's incredible resurgence"
When the Lions lost 7 of their last 8 games of the season and then went winless in 2008, here's what I didn't read from Jemele Hill:
"it's hard not to note that the most publicly Christian team in the NFL is also the worst, and has suffered a collapse that rivals any in recent sports history."
A week ago, Russell's whiny nephew was eliminated in the final Redemption Island challenge in this season's Survivor when he lost a pole sitting contest to Ozzy. I would have bet you all of the money in my bank account this would be the result - not because Ozzy is maybe the best all time Survivor challenge competitor but instead due to the conspicuous absence of prayer from that episode to that point. If you've watched the past two seasons of Survivor you've seen the first half of the 2007 Detroit Lions season, a lot of "God's on our side and that's why we will win" talk - and if there was ever a ready made storyline, it was here - two men perched atop a pole, the one who falls - out of a million dollar game. The cocky Ozzie who had wiped out opponent after opponent in these showdown challenges against the heavily outgunned Russell's nephew, who has only his loudly, constantly, consistently proclaimed faith to keep him on that pole. What would the Bears general manager say about Russell's nephew's inexplicable win over Ozzie?
But no god talk at all. Maybe for the first time in a half dozen episodes. Huh.
I guarantee you there's footage on someone's computer of Russell's nephew and probably a few others saying, "Jesus will keep me on this pole." I guarantee you if Russell's nephew had won - that's the storyline that would have been driven home all the way through the finale. If you believe, then unbelievable things can sometimes be possible.
But we didn't see any of that. Because when Jon Kitna wins 6 of 8 its because of Jesus. And when the Lions lose 24 of 25, well, hey, look over there. Russell's nephew fell off the pole and exited the game. That's what's up.
If Tim Tebow, on Christmas Eve, had thrown for 4 scores instead of 4 picks, his religion is all you'd hear about on every pregame show today. It's praying over a winning lottery ticket. Jemele Hill probably already has the piece on her hard drive. Christianity is institutionalized confirmation bias.
And that's why, I'd suggest, I don't like Tim Tebow.
Or it could just be because he's a virgin. Either way.
2. A Better Tebow Piece
..was written by Charlie Pierce, earlier this week:
3. Is This Our Last Christmas?
It shows how far we've lowered the bar on what passes for non-crazy rhetoric from Republicans that Michele Bachman could say this, this week and have no one scream "what the hell is this candidate for President talking about."
If it is our last Christmas, thanks for spending it with Tendown.
4. Welcome to the War - National Rifle Association
As you know, there's a War on Christmas - and the way you tell which side someone is on is their seasonal greeting. If they say, Merry Christmas - then they're on our side (well, your side, I'm like Tokyo Rose, clearly) but if they say "Happy Holidays" that's really secret code for " There is no Jesus and Tim Tebow isn't as good as John Skelton."
My side got an ally this week. And they're packing.
Your twitter feed for the day.
6. Monica Seles' Boyfriend
Is one of the robber barons fighting against the 99% movement.
7. And The Best Tool of the Plutocracy
Is of course, the Supreme Court.
8. From Robert Reich:
today’s Tea Party is less an ideological movement than the latest incarnation of an angry white minority – predominantly Southern, and mainly rural – that has repeatedly attacked American democracy in order to get its way.
9. 2 Years, 25 Million
So, we could have not done Sanchez for Melky and instead signed Beltran for something like 2 years/25 million?
How is that not a better result?
10. Which USC Quarterback is Having a Better Christmas?
Matt Barkley? Remaining a Trojan one more season (are we preseason number one?).
Or Mark Sanchez?
The Jets lost again Saturday.
My vote - Sanchez. He's got better things to do than go to the playoffs.
That's all for this time. I'll be back next time. If there is a next time...