By Tim Ellsworth

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Season ends, but Tebow inspired fans on and off the field

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (BP) -- Tim Tebow's riveting and tumultuous season ended Jan. 14, with the New England Patriots hammering the Denver Broncos 45-10 in an AFC divisional playoff game. "A lot of ups and downs," Tebow said about his second NFL season after the loss in Foxborough, Mass. "Overall, it's been a very special opportunity for me, something I'm really thankful for. There's a lot of things we're proud of. Obviously, it's hard to see them all right now," Tebow was quoted as saying. Still, Tebow's performance over the course of the season earned him the right to be the starting quarterback entering the 2012 season, Denver vice president of football operations John Elway said Monday (Jan. 16). The popular quarterback, whose habit of kneeling in prayer on the football field started a nationwide trend of copycats engaged in "Tebowing," inspired millions of fans with his positive attitude, charitable work with the seriously ill and overt references to his faith in Jesus Christ. He also earned the derision and mockery of others who didn't share his religious beliefs. Tebow's penchant for pulling out seemingly impossible wins also sparked a lively debate about the role God plays in a player's success. "It may be that Tebow will succeed in spectacular fashion; it may be that he will have the worst game of his life," Owen Strachan, professor of theology and church history at Boyce College, wrote in an article in The Atlantic before the game with the Patriots. "Either way, the Bible assures us that God loves his chosen, God is orchestrating every detail of their lives, and God will lead them through success or failure to the end of all things." Tebow's status with the Broncos was a touchy subject even from the start of the team's training camp. Several football analysts were pessimistic about his prospects as a successful NFL quarterback, and at one time speculation loomed that Tebow might fall to third-string behind Brady Quinn. Things changed, however, when Denver went only 1-4 under then-quarterback Kyle Orton.