Tim Tebow is on a Jihad. No seriously, bear with me. He is showing the power of faith in the same way that Mohammed’s successors did in the 7th and 8th Centuries. Tebow’s presence in pop culture, the only reason I’m aware of him, focuses on his obsessive Jesus talk.
In the beginning of the 21st century it’s weird to have a prominent American figure focus on that topic who isn’t some sort of disgusting bigot. This is a refreshing change, but doesn’t get at what is truly interesting about Tebow.
Whether or not his play is divinely-inspired, it is clear that he is an inspiring leader. His faith is what lets him do this.
In 634 the Caliph Omar began his reign. He was the second person to hold power after the death of Muhammad. When he came to power the Muslims controlled a series of dusty towns in Arabia. The epic battles of Islam’s founding had mostly been tribal squabbles. When his reign ended 10 years later, Islam had conquered most of the known world, and defeated two great empires, absorbing one of them completely. This feat of military expansion was more significant than anything Alexander the Great had done.
We are still feeling the effects almost 1400 years later. The Byzantine and Persian empires had no idea what hit them. Faith powered the conquest. The more sophisticated militaries of the day wanted land and riches, but the Jihadis had something more. They had an idea.
Caliph Omar had these successes with un-inspiring material. The Arabs were the poor inhabitants of the dusty wastes on the periphery of two great empires. The Denver Broncos were a mediocre team at this season’s outset. Tim Tebow himself has many draw-backs as a football player. Both of these phenomena, the Broncos success and the Jihadis conquest of the known world, are due to the power that a unifying idea can have. Every NFL player is well-paid, but you need more than that to reach greatness. Tebow’s religion provides that intangible motivation, much as Caliph Omar’s did.
Will Tebow’s jihad prove powerful enough to carry him through to the Super Bowl, or will the New England Patriots prove to be his own personal walls of Constantinople? I haven’t been this interested in the NFL in years.
When Rob is not doing pretentious sports journalism he is complaining about the drug war and more here.