Former NFL quarterback Kurt Warner had some words of advice for Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow, suggesting that the outspoken Christian ditch the overtly religious symbolism during games.
Warner is not just another naysayer, rather he speaks from personal experience.
After winning the 2000 Super Bowl with the St. Louis Rams, Warner famously said “thank you Jesus,” which sparked a career chockfull of on-camera religious statements.
It is something Warner does not want to see from Tebow.
“There’s almost a faith cliche, where (athletes) come out and say, ‘I want to thank my Lord and savior,’ ” Warner told The Arizona Republic. “As soon as you say that, the guard goes up, the walls go up, and I came to realize you have to be more strategic.”
It is not the first time Tebow’s faith has been brought up in NFL circles.
“I think he’s a winner, and I respect that about him,” former Broncos quarterback Jake Plummer previously said. “I think that when he accepts the fact that we know that he loves Jesus Christ, then I think I’ll like him even better.”
“I don’t hate him because of that. I just would rather not have to hear that every single time he takes a good snap or makes a good handoff,” Plummer continued.
Plummer’s comments set off a firestorm of back-and-forth comments between Tebow supporters and those who do not want to mix religion and sports.
But Warner’s remarks come from a sense of mentoring the young quarterback.
“The greatest impact you can have on people is never what you say, but how you live,” Warner told The Arizona Republic. “When you speak and represent the person of Jesus Christ in all actions of your life, people are drawn to that. You set the standard with your actions. The words can come after.”
Tebow’s habit of bending his knee and bowing his head in prayer after scoring or making a big play became an Internet craze as people took to “Tebowing,” or mimicking the pose.
The move also was used to taunt the quarterback after opposing teams made big plays or stopped an offensive drive.
Detroit Lions linebacker Stephen Tulloch drew ire when he “Tebowed” after sacking the Broncos quarterback during a game several weeks ago.
Tebow was quick to defend the opposing linebacker’s actions.
“He was just celebrating, having fun with his teammates and I don’t take offense to that,” Tebow previously told the AP.
It is unclear how Tebow will respond to the public comments made by Warner, but religion is likely to remain a significant part of Tebows public and private life.
“It is the most important thing in my life,” Tebow told ESPN. “Any time I get an opportunity to tell him I love him or get the opportunity to shout him out on national TV I am going to take it … Any time I get the opportunity to give the Lord some praise he is due for it because of what he did for me and what he did for all of us.”
Watch Warner’s 2000 Super Bowl speech below.