IMLTHO*: Responses Worth a Reply, and an Epiphany at Speakers’ Corner

I figured people would have plenty to say regarding Monday’s screed.

Strangely, no one responded to my mention of Wesley Duke, a bright, engaging fellow who didn’t take himself seriously and was willing to have a picture of himself riding an elephant in Germany posted on the official team website.

The 2005 team had a fascinating collection of tight ends. The group was led by the been-there, done-that world-weariness of Stephen Alexander, a thoughtful player who was realistic about his place in the sport and what he sought to gain from it. There was Nate Jackson, sometime musician and occasional author who is no longer the only person on the 2005 team charter to write for The New York Times. There was Jeb Putzier, whose surname I kept mispronouncing (having taken four years of French, I had to keep myself from to pronouncing it “poot-ZEE-air” rather than his preferred “PUTT-zeer”); he possessed tantalizing talent but never advanced beyond the role of steady reserve.

Then there was Duke, an experiment in converting a basketball player that didn’t work out because of injury — a sad tale the Broncos hope doesn’t repeat itself with Julius Thomas.

Anyway, let’s dive into some of your replies to Monday’s piece:

From Twitter …

  • @cjensen79 you where your ideology on your sleeve. If I wanted that type of content, I’d follow Keith Oberman

Had I written in support of Tebow’s comments, would that have been okay? Or does it only irk you when I offer a contrary perspective?

From the comments:

  • From cr91: Yes, Tebow is a Christian and at long last you’re free to let loose with the anti-Christian screed that you were probably itching to write but feared to publish while he was still a Bronco and the subject was still slightly relevant. I’m glad you got that out, man, I bet it’s a relief. Look on the bright side – you never have to pretend to be objective about Tebow again, and the equally indistinguishable, “milquetoast” quotes you’ll be hearing from the new Broncos quarterback at various pressers won’t have that distasteful Christian tinge to them. Free at last!

If I followed “free at last” with “Thank God almighty,” would I be a hypocrite?  And isn’t jumping to conclusions about the author’s intent grand?

Tebow never said anything to which I objected until now. If someone wants to take a knee and pray in the corner of the game or end zone, fine. If he wants to answer his first press conference question with “I’d like to thank my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,” I can live with it; it seems to be an odd non-sequitur because it is neither germane to the topic broached by the inquisitor nor to the subject at hand: football. But it’s his thing. I didn’t use the quotes about his faith unless it was tied to the topic at hand, which I found to rarely be the case.

This was the first time since the site began in late April 2010 that he said something to which I objected. I’ve got a child on the way, and I don’t want him or her to open a textbook in eight to 10 years’ time and read a warped, distorted version of history that came to pass because agenda-driven revisionists insisted on changing the story to suit their interests.

Writing that piece was a matter of conscience, and I couldn’t rest until I’d written and published it. With my mind and heart at ease, I slept soundly after that.

And if I was anti-Christian, then why did I write this last month about Tebow’s time in Denver?

  • From swg777: Your liberalism has blinded your objectivity. Do you honestly believe the concept of “One nation under God” is all about a coin? Do you honestly believe the principle of “One nation under God” did not start until 1954??? Do you honestly believe “One nation under God” means the same thing as establishing a theocracy?

I’m trying to figure out where I mentioned coins or theocracy, or why you need three question marks when just one does fine, but carry on.

  • As one who loves history, like yourself, but chooses to be objective about it, unlike yourself, there is little doubt this country was founded on Christian non-denominationalism. It is enlightening that you equate this one Tebow statement into something resembling the Flat Earth Society.

I always find it fascinating how to some people, taking left-of-center viewpoints implies a lack of objectivity, yet being right of center is being neutral. It’s one of those hypocritical fallacies that makes me retch.

If the nation was founded on “Christian non-denominationalism,” why isn’t the name of Christ mentioned in the Declaration of Independence or the Constitution? Why does the Establishment Clause within the first amendment mention nothing of Christianity, but general “religion”? Were these bright minds unaware of other faiths? That notion seems myopic.

  • You have made two glaring errors here. First, you have not done enough opposition research. I share the same ideology as Tim Tebow and I do not believe what you assume I do. Second, you decided to talk about something other than football, and I respect this site less because of it.

To the contrary, I’ve engaged in research of multiple sides for years — including studying the claims made by the site you cited, David Barton’s Wallbuilders. I’ve read the Bible and the works of many apologetics; I’ve read Ayn Rand; I’ve read Karl Marx. My life’s reading is all over the political, social and theological spectrum; I find such research essential to my viewpoints and my being. I even went through a multi-year period where on offseason Sundays, I could be found in various churches, listening to sermons to see if I was missing something in my search for a spiritual home.

And you probably won’t like where the site is headed. It’s going to branch beyond football into other sports — as was the original vision.

  • From ben: “one nation under God” – oh dear? Stick to football, Mason and leave your belief system on the shelf, please.

If a quarterback can share his opinion, I can share mine. There’s no law that says you have to read it, but there are laws protecting my right to write it — and Tebow’s right to convey his.

  • From joshuah: … ur as bad as skip bayless, just the opposite end of the spectrum.

I was unaware that I made false accusations about a quarterback’s personal life or spoke hysterically about the same subject every weekday for months on end.

Big Ben and the Tube

Not far from the Westminster tube station in October 2010, the author remembered why he was in London -- and it wasn't to lob a verbal hand grenade into a battleground of religious ideas.

And one more thought: Eighteen months ago, I wandered through Hyde Park in London as I walked from Buckingham Palace back to my hotel near the Marble Arch tube station.  It was a Sunday morning, which meant the park’s renowned Speakers’ Corner was alive with chatter of the true believers, attempting to influence passers-by.

None held my attention until I heard a Christian and Muslim debating.  Both were devout.  Both were utterly convinced of the intractability of their claims.  A crowd of several dozen stood and listened, occasionally lobbing questions, but generally content to let the two men engage in a verbal re-enactment of the Crusades.

It was riveting.  I wanted to jump in.  Not so much to get into a lengthy debate, but just to see what would happen if a short man with sweat dripping from beneath his Atlanta Braves cap interjected, “You’re both wrong!”

Then I glanced at my phone to check the time.   It was 11:15 a.m.; I’d been walking about Westminster for four hours, and I needed to eat, shower, pack and head for Wembley Stadium.

My first performance at Speakers’ Corner would have to wait for another trip. I had an assignment: a Broncos game starting in a few hours.

So you see where my priority lies.

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About Andrew Mason

Andrew Mason has covered the NFL since 1999, when he worked as an editor on NFL.com when the site was managed by ESPN.com. He worked six seasons (2002-07) covering the Broncos on their official website and two (2008-09) on the Panthers' site. He began MaxDenver.com in 2010 and now contributes to CBSSports.com, The Sporting News and The New York Times.
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17 Responses

  1. I wish I had something more pithy to write in the comment box every time I read one of your articles other than “great job,” or some variation thereof, but until I do, expect to receive generic, if heartfelt, praise from yours truly. An open mind, chock-full of intelligence, is a delightful thing to encounter.

    • I try. I’m fortunate in that my parents encouraged me to read as much as I could to learn about politics, sports or any other subject that interested me and encouraged me to find my own way. It’s my intent to be the same kind of parent for my kid.

  2. I know you will take grief for all of this, but thank you.

  3. Couldn’t agree with you more. Keep up the great work!
    “And that’s a show”

  4. Andrew, several things. First, my work schedule precludes me from taking much longer than five minute reprieves on my Iphone. Second, I mixed up the pledge language with our coin language. I was wrong about that specific point, though I still stand by the general point. Third, we are from different ends of the political spectrum, obviously. However, you think I am part of the flat earth society and I just think you are misinformed. Which one of those evaluations sounds more elitist? Fourth, I also should not have used the word “founded” in that sense. It was not entirely accurate and I should have explained my point further. I do believe our country was primarily founded by Christian non-denominationalists and meant to operate in a Judeo-Christian context. How well do you think the framers would have tolerated a Muslim state, or an atheist state? Catholics and Quakers had a difficult enough time. Fifth, flexing your autobiographical internet muscles is nauseating. It is easy to be an internet hero when there is no truth detector. I wasn’t asking for your qualifications as much as I was informing you that your ascribed beliefs about my ideology did not come close to capturing the truth. Thanks for being presumptuous though! Finally, I loved your site and clicked on it multiple times a day. I think you and another website underestimate how much Tim Tebow was responsible for any clicks you received. I appreciate, respect, and admire your take on sports. My wish is that you do not venture far from that, but it’s your house with your rules

    • I’m not even going to touch most of this, but there’s one comment you made that really stands out:

      “How well do you think the framers would have tolerated a Muslim state, or an atheist state? ”

      They wouldn’t! And why is that? Because they were against the state having *any* religious basis. And how do I know that? Not by guessing, not by rewriting history, but by reading the constitution. A muslim state is unconstitutional. A christian state is unconstitutional. An atheist state is unconstitutional. The only constitutional state is a *secular* state. A state that makes no attempts to answer the questions of religion.

      • Nice try, but I was referring to “state” in the unofficial lowercase “s” sense.

  5. This is not an answer to David’s (and Andrew’s) very good point in referencing the Constitution. I’m amazed at how often people invoke the name of “the Framers” without actually referring to either the Constitution or any of the contemporaneous history surrounding it (or even the Federalist Papers). You also ought to be careful invoking the Framers because anyone who has studied the Constitution will immediately ask, “which ones?”. Do you mean the framers of: the Articles of Confederation, the pre Civil War Constitution or the Reconstruction Constitution? The last one is the most relevant for most of today’s constitutional challenges, so did you mean those framers?

    All that being said, it’s inarguable that this country was intended to be a secular state as the Establishment Clause clearly attests. I don’t understand how you can acknowledge that it was intended to be both a secular State but nevertheless argue that it was also intended to be a religious state (using your lower case notion) when the doctrine is so clear.

    Perhaps you can explain more?

  6. Andrew,

    As someone who has been on the receiving end of similar biased criticism, I can empathise with your plight, here. It’s difficult to have a reciprocal conversation when one side keeps entering it with an agenda. The responses to your articles demonstrate this all too well. Everyone is shouting; no one is listening.

    • “Everyone is shouting; no one is listening.” Well-put. You just summarized the problem with current discourse on myriad subjects, not just politics. It’s this environment that has in recent years allowed Skip Bayless, Stephen A. Smith, Rush Limbaugh, Keith Olbermann, et. al., to thrive. A friend of mine in radio has often wrung his hands over the fact that he couldn’t discuss Tim Tebow on air, because the topic coarsened the discourse, both from pro- and anti-Tebow callers.

      It’s fascinating to go to Britain and see how these matters are discussed on television and radio; for the most part, political and sports chatter is much calmer in those media in the U.K. than here in the States. But there, it it’s the newspapers that demonstrate the partisan, loudest-voice-wins vitriol — the opposite of the U.S.A. Of course, their newspapers are thriving concerns compared to their American brethren, which shows that the Mail, Sun, Mirror, etc. may have the right idea from a business perspective, even if it doesn’t elevate the dignity of the discussion.

      Me, I want to keep things here civil. Intelligent, at times provocative, always honest, but civil nevertheless. I haven’t had to edit any comments yet on the subjects discussed this week and I hope I don’t need to in the future.

  7. “This great nation was founded,not by religionists, but by Christians, not on religions but on the gospel of Jesus Christ.” This is a quote by Patrick Henry. I can provide hundreds more by equally important founding fathers. You all can provide historical quotes that back up your point of view too. My point is that the issue is not as black and white as you portray it.

    Mason, do you ever respond to the comments section? Or do you let us sheeple just battle it out? I’m aware of the approach for the moderator to stir the pot, walk away, and stay out of the conflict so as to convey objectivity and being “above the fray.” Is that how it is going to be with this new, amazing format?

    • Interesting that none of that language (from Henry or others) made it into any of the founding documents I mentioned. Personal beliefs of any of the founders are irrelevant…as they were intended to be…insofar as the discussion is centered on what America as a nation is. Read some of the Supreme Court cases regarding the Establishment Clause sometime and you’ll see the relevant doctrine explained fairly well.

      Moreover, I find it interesting that you’d broach this subject when many of the more noteworthy founders were Deists and many more of them were Freemasons with very different spiritual beliefs than those espoused by mainstream Christianity.

      But again…who really cares what they believed? How does that point have any relevance for your overall argument if you acknowledge that separation of church and state is constitutionally mandated?

    • SWG, I would think the existence of this story as a page shows that I do respond to the comments section, but carry on.

  8. I think the point that most of the people who were angered by the post are missing is that you don’t have to agree with someone to enjoy and appreciate their content.

    I certainly hold different views than Mason on this subject, but it won’t affect my desire to read his Broncos coverage one iota. You don’t have to be a womanizer to enjoy watching Tiger Woods play golf. You don’t need to be a devout Christian to appreciate what Tim Tebow brings to a football team.

    I, for one, read this site because it provides well written, in-depth coverage about a team I enjoy following. If the proprietor of this site decides to discuss social and political issues full time from here on, I will simply look elsewhere. Until he does that, however, I won’t waste any time or sleep fretting over his personal views.

    Vaya con Dios.

    • It’s pretty simple: if there’s a sports connection — or, specifically, with the Broncos or another Denver-area team — to a politically charged subject that is newsworthy and tugs at my conscience, I’ll opine. If there isn’t, I won’t. I’m not all of a sudden going to start endorsing candidates for office.

      Yes, my take on the topic upset some people. But Tebow’s take on historical interpretation upset me intellectually. It was his right to say it; it was my right to have a response, and others’ right to comment here. I will not take the path of least resistance just to make some people happy, although I will present my opinion in a civilized manner and expect all who comment and debate here to do the same.

      The site traffic this week dictates that perhaps I should write these pieces more often. But don’t hold your breath for them unless there is a obvious connection to local sports; conjuring up tangential connections for the sake of increasing traffic is cynical and intellectually dishonest. That will not be done here.

      And maybe I should stick with “Vaya con Dios.” The truth is, I believe in a higher power and am at a place of spiritual tranquility. I just don’t believe in organized religion as its proper conduit.

  9. Awesome issues here. I’m very glad to look your post. Thank you a lot and I am taking a look ahead to contact you. Will you please drop me a mail?

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