Last year, when Tim Tebow was leading the Broncos to their first playoff win in a long while the media could not get enough opportunity to bash him for what they saw as an over the top display of faith that some said had no place on the football field.
I’ve found it interesting then this year, as the Ravens have made their unprecedented run to the Super Bowl, that very little is being said about Ray Lewis’ outspoken display’s of faith.
Oh sure there are the undercurrent of social media debates both amongst and between those on the far right and far left of the socio-politico-religious scale. I’ve seen Lewis actions lauded as those of a man who has “found Jesus” and decried as fake by those who remember Lewis as a murder suspect back in 2000. In either case though the press seems largely unimpressed.
Which makes me wonder…why?
In my musings over the mystery of the media’s maligning of my man Tebow and their seeming silence on the self same stuff with senior statesman Lewis I’ve considered a cadre of conspicuous contributors:
(All of which is to say I think I’ve figured out what happened.)
1. TimeTewbow was a rookie, a highly touted rookie but a rookie nonetheless. He hadn’t had any time in the league to establish himself with anything other than pre-draft hype. Although Tebow had been highly regarded throughout his college career he hadn’t had the same kind of media attention that players get in the NFL. In short the media hadn’t really had an opportunity to build a relationships with him.
Ray has been in the league for seventeen years. Granted that time has been turbulent at points but over the course of time the media has been able to craft an understanding of how they relate to Ray and how he relates to them.
I think it is very true in this case that time equates to relationship.
2. PerformanceThis one is almost a double edged sword because while Ray had proven himself over time, Tim WAS proving himself in his short opportunity to do so. I actually believe now, in hindsight, that part of the shots that were being taken at Tim were specifically because he was winning when by all intents and purposes he should not have been able to pull out those wins.
The media really didn’t want to admit that this kid, who looked like he really was NOT an NFL passer, was somehow winning games that he should be losing because of his relationship with God. Tim put them in a place where they had to consider that as a possibility. Tim wasn’t winning WITH God, Tim was winning BECAUSE of God and that didn’t sit well. We’ll never know, on this side of the box, whether God was orchestrating wins for Tim but the media certainly didn’t want to entertain that possibility.
By contrast Ray Lewis has proven himself a proficient, first ballot hall of fame, linebacker. Ray wins. If Ray wants to give credit to God the media can give each other a wink and a nudge and say, “Ok, but you won before you got religion too.”
This combination of time and performance creates a certain credibility in relationship. Faith has a place in the public arean of football no doubt. But the arena IS football. The Tebow/Lewis Conundrum seems to support the notion that the people who manage the popular opinions ensconced in that arena are willing to accept faith second if football is proved first. You can be good at football solely because of faith, they don’t like that.
Which leads me to wonder:
- What are the arenas in life where our faith is welcomed AFTER we’ve proven ourselves in the arena?
- Where are the places that we can invest time and performance that produces credibility?
- How patient are we in building that street cred before bringing faith to bare?