Could Tim Tebow have a Merry Christmas after this devastating loss to the Buffalo Bills? Will nagging doubts finally penetrate the fortress of Tebow belief—through the seams of his strongest defenders and right to the heart of the comeback kid himself?
Are there any comebacks left now that the shine from all his improbable victories has already accumulated two weeks of dust? Indeed, in those metaphorical terms, and given his four interceptions, the Denver Broncos' 40-14 loss to the Bills might as well have been called the Dust Bowl.
The gleam is gone, and Tebow, the Broncos and his legion of fans are left straining their eyes in a dusty swirl, looking for a glimmer of Tebow’s mantra this season, belief. Will there be any belief left?
If this litany of questions seems hyperbolic after a single game, remember that it is difficult to exaggerate the hype of Tebow this season. And in improbable fashion, he and the Broncos had managed to live up to that hype week after week after week.
The show may be over if the Broncos game against Kyle Orton and the Kansas City Chiefs bears any resemblance to the Bills debacle.
Tebow, a religiously devout, young 24-year-old man is now left to refocus—not only on an upcoming game, but on one of the most pivotal and joyous celebrations within his religious faith, Christmas.
It would be easier, perhaps, if the brutal loss came on Good Friday. That holiday commemorates blood, pain and unimaginable loss. According to the Christian narrative, Jesus dies on Good Friday in a wicked crucifixion. On Christmas Day, though, Christians believe that divinity burst onto the human scene in triumphant glory, gathering humble shepherds and sagacious foreigners convinced that they had found a path to unlikely wonder.
In this Tebow scenario, though, it looks like the Wise Men are all of those doubters who insisted that eventually the Broncos running game would ground to a halt and Tebow would have to pass, exposing, they assured everyone, his woeful lack of throwing accuracy.
Tebow might find solace in those elements of the Christmas story that do not get first billing in all the pristine pageants and impeccable Christian crèches.
According to the Gospel of Matthew, the King of Judea, Herod the Great, responded to fear with fury when he learned that a baby was about to rival his kingly power: He ordered a massacre of male children under the age of two in Bethlehem (Matthew 2:16-18). The Christmas story is not all silent; it contains holy screams.
Tim Tebow met a young man before the game against the Bills who knows what devastation sounds and feels like. High school quarterback Jacob Rainey was touted as an emerging star before a terrible series of events ended his career. A knee injury led to a severed artery, which ultimately forced doctors to amputate a part of his leg.
He and his family were on hand for the Broncos vs. Bills thanks to Tim Tebow’s charitable foundation.
Pain is a persistent part of this life, a reality that cannot be measured in wins and losses. Tebow and the Broncos might not make the playoffs, or they might squeak into that postseason only to lose early; all of the hype over Tebow might evaporate in the process.
Tim Tebow might be back next year fighting for a starting spot.
Even if some of these thoughts are on Tebow’s mind, he is sure to have a Merry Christmas because, as Jacob Rainey's father Lee knows, "He understands what it's all about...not just wins and losses."