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The Times
  • Tebow, The Man Upstairs are the talk of the big game

  • It’s the NFL’s heaven on earth, but before playing in the Super Bowl, numerous participants check in with The Man Upstairs.

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  • Tebow didn’t make it. God always does.
    At least, that’s what Patriots running back Kevin Faulk says as the big game nears.
    “You don’t have to lose a Super Bowl to go through adversity,” said Faulk, who lost one four years ago. “You just have to go through life understanding that God is guiding you each and every day.”
    The days are different out here.
    The street crowds are enormous. The party was on days ago, but now it is overwhelming.
    I came across a mob of people a few minutes into a Friday walk. A bass guitar drove a bluesy little number by a band I couldn’t get close enough to see. Big, intermittent cheers arose. I couldn’t squeeze near enough to tell what those were about, either.
    The cheers kept getting louder. I grabbed the cell phone to check the time ... 8:42 a.m.
    Holy smokes. What would it be like by Friday night? Like it was Thursday night, times two.
    People on every block of the city, near and far. Rock bands, rap guys, sold-out venues, baby buggies, babes in $500 boots, old ladies, players on the prowl, every kind of person imaginable.
    I walked by some people fine dining on a sidewalk outside a restaurant rigged with fancy space heaters when I came upon Tony Dungy. The former Colts coach was on a cell phone for two blocks before he turned into a place called The Repertory Theater.
    The marquee said “COSTAS.” The lobby was packed. I assumed Dungy was one of the celebrities who would be on stage talking to Bob Costas for 2,000 people who had paid too much to hear them.
    Thursday night came and went. There was maybe a four-hour gap before the crowds were back. There is no ocean at this Super Bowl. The sea of humanity has never been bigger.
    Check that. Tim Tebow IS here. He’s the biggest thing in sports. He is the biggest thing on this Super Bowl’s Radio Row, drawing huge crowds, attracting tons more attention coming off an 8-8 season than a fellow who won four Super Bowls. Yes, Joe Montana was there, too, a wallflower.
    Tebow has become a major figure largely because he talks proactively about Jesus and God without apologizing to the numerous or at least vociferous people who rip him for doing so.
    The truth is, in our experience, that the name of God is mentioned far more often by football players than any individual in their game. That has been the case in Indianapolis.
    It’s just that God is hardly ever quoted.
    They have talked about him quite a bit at Super Bowl XLVI.
    Page 2 of 2 - There are all kinds of street preachers. There was a lady using Jesus’ name before an expletive when a traffic cop told her to get back on the sidewalk.
    Among the many players who talk about God, the drop-ins come out in so many different ways.
    “God has been watching me to let me hang onto the football,” Patriots running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis said.
    Giants defensive end Justin Tuck went a little deeper:
    “Some people don’t understand that we are human beings and have passions other than knocking a guy’s head off. One of mine is my faith. I am so glad we picked up the slogan 'all in.' It’s not necessarily ‘all in’ on the football field, but ‘all in’ in life, and that starts with our belief in the lord Jesus Christ.”
    Chad Ochocinco said God directed him from a showboating role in Cincinnati to a humbling role as an extra wideout in New England, in a Super Bowl.
    “If God puts me through this test, and I act up on the biggest stage of them all with the elite of the elite ... where am I going after that?” Ochocinco said.
    Joshua Cribbs is in town. His Twitter page introduces him thusly: “Man of God (repenting sinner), proud father and husband, pro football ...” Cribbs leads the Browns in Twitter followers with more than 103,000. He’s no Tebow. When we checked Friday, Tebow had 1,142,425.
    Browns fans perceived Gerard Warren as a real party animal. Recently, when Warren sacked his fellow former Florida Gator Tebow in a playoff game, Gerard did a bodacious Gator chomp.
    He called it “Gator love.”
    A few people might be surprised by this Media Day quote from Warren:
    “I’m not superstitious, but I use the same game-day routine. Same breakfast for the last 11 years. Same Bible verses. Same music.”
    Really? “Big Money” is in the Bible that much?
    The quote came from an interview someone else had done and transcribed. I bumped into Warren in a hotel to check on its veracity.
    “Yep,” he said with a big smile. “Same Bible verses. From Psalms. Psalms 3, 23, 35 and 91.”
    Psalm 3, Verse 6: “I will not be afraid of ten thousands of people who have set themselves against me all around.”
    What does one say to that? See you Sunday?

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