As Christmas approaches and pro football analysts are still in a quandary, a former CNN Pentagon correspondent sets out to answer a little girl’s question, “Is there a Tim Tebow?” in a guest column for The Denver Post.
University of Maryland journalism professor and newly-signed NPR news anchor Jamie McIntyre parodied a famous editorial response published in a New York newspaper on Sept. 21, 1897, to the question of whether Santa Claus exists.
The New York Sun piece, “Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus,” was written by newsman Francis Pharcellus Church and has since become the most reprinted newspaper editorial – appearing in part or whole in dozens of languages in books, movies, and other editorials, and on posters and stamps – according to Newseum.
In The Denver Post parody, “Yes, Virginia, there is a Tim Tebow,” published Thursday, McIntyre writes, “Yes, Virginia, there is a Tim Tebow. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy. Alas! How dreary would be the world if there were no Tim Tebow. It would be as dreary as if there were no Virginias.”
He continues, “There would be no childlike faith in miraculous fourth-quarter comebacks. No hope, no joy, to make tolerable this Broncos fan's existence. The eternal light with which improbable victory fills the world would be extinguished.”
McIntyre told The Christian Post that he intended the column to be a light-hearted parody of the famous original editorial.
“I’m a 1976 graduate of the University of Florida, and hence a Gator and Tebow fan,” said McIntyre, whose 35 years of journalism experience includes reporting as a senior CNN Pentagon correspondent for 16 years.
“I just like that he’s someone in sports we can admire for his personal qualities as well as his athletic abilities,” he said. “He’s fun to watch, and I would just like some of the naysayers to give him a chance.”
McIntyre said that he also felt the need to write his column in response to the negative comments he read on ESPN.com about Tebow's "expressions of faith" on the field.
“I don’t think his religious beliefs should even be an issue,” he said. "Being a journalist, I am big believer in the First Amendment, and the five freedoms it enshrines."
"I am not a Christian, but I am in no way offended by people professing their religious beliefs, Christian or otherwise," McIntyre explained. "I didn’t intend the piece as any comment on Tebow’s Christianity, except that I do think faith can be a powerful force."
McIntyre said that there is also the "underdog factor," that keeps the Tebow story hot.
"Tebow is 'Seabiscuit' to say Aaron Rodgers 'War Admiral,'" he said. "I think a lot of us were told at some point we didn’t have what it takes to succeed."
"I was once told by a news director I would never be on the air because my voice 'was too high, and lacked authority,' and that I should stick to off-air jobs," he said. "Like Tebow I was told by the 'experts' I didn’t have what it takes."
McIntyre adds, "Maybe that’s why I’m pulling for him. And like I said, faith is a powerful emotion. Tebow has faith in his Lord and in himself. And I have faith in him, and even if he turns out to play only a few seasons, he’ll be an inspiration. He’s made it clear that while he’s as dedicated to winning as any player on the field, he doesn’t consider football the most important thing in his life."
McIntyre’s piece stays true to the famous editorial, addressing issues of faith, and even using exact language from the piece. (He apologizes to the deceased author at the top of the story.)
“You may tear apart the baby's rattle and see what makes the noise inside, but there is a veil covering the unseen world which not the strongest man, nor even the united strength of all the strongest men that ever lived, could tear apart,” McIntyre directly borrows from Church.
Then, the journalist gets back to the subject at hand ... Tebow.
“Only faith, fancy, poetry, love, romance, can push aside that curtain and see what makes Tim Tebow a winner,” he writes.