(Centennial Fellow) Once while working as an assistant city editor on a metropolitan newspaper, I made the discovery that while talent is a great blessing, it's often character that counts most at the end of the day.
An important story would bounce into sight and I would assign it to a brilliant reporter while overlooking an arrogance handicap, sometimes regretting the decision. The next time I might hand the banner opportunity to a more humble, diligent, eager, helpful reporter perhaps lacking razzle-dazzle ability and rejoice in the outcome.
That paper was in Denver. I went there at a time when the Denver Broncos were headed for their first Super Bowl, and the city was flipped out over the team's Orange Crush defense even to the point of painting houses orange. I myself had many orange moments that season, though I left paint alone.
I now live outside Denver, up the mountains a bit, and am naturally enough caught up in the saga of Tim Tebow, a man of character. He's also a man of controversy, of faith and of miracle wins on the football field. It has been something to watch.
This rookie quarterback has led the Broncos to a series of last-minute, improbable, comeback victories, reversed a losing season and put his team at the head of its division. Inspiring other players to top-notch performances, he is a never-give-up, upbeat leader. Still, he has sometimes been awful in passing the ball and has infuriated not a few with his open praise of Jesus Christ and a kneeling prayer position imitated worldwide.
He's not really very good, some people say. Yes, he runs the ball well, but that is not what quarterbacks are for, they tell us. They seem to think it little excuse for his sorry passing stats that fumble-thumb receivers should have caught some on-the-mark throws. They wonder where he hides out for the first three quarters of so many games and they tell you luck has been amazingly in his corner. Then they come to religion.
Some consider it very nearly an NFL disqualification that he openly prays at games. Sports really ought to get rid of all the God talk, it is said by many reflecting what seems to me the most anti-religious period in my life. Some wear it as a badge of superiority that they hate the church of their childhood. I repeatedly have encountered those whose boasted tolerance does not extend to Christians they think of as hypocritical, judgmental, mean-spirited, anti-science throwbacks to an age of superstitious malevolence.
The critics are not that smart. Most of these I've run into suppose all Christians subscribe to some straw-man version of a faith a world's distance from the one I know that never ceases preaching love. They can recite faults of 500 and more years ago without grasping any of the immeasurable good.
But then listen to me sounding snappish. That is not what the faith is about. So now listen to the always-self-effacing Tebow on being sacked by someone who then knelt gleefully in the Tebow prayer posture.
"He was probably just having fun and was excited he made a good play and had a sack," Tebow told an interviewer. "And good for him."
I ran across the quote in a Wall Street Journal piece that also reminded us of how Tebow has dedicated himself to charitable activities that have included visiting with a young leukemia victim and saying his name on TV to boost his spirits.
I briefly met Tebow and will share my intuitive conviction that he is genuine.
Concerning his public piety, please note that while Tebow thinks believing produces positive results, he also says God does not fix ballgames. His prayers are part of a joy much like that of the early Christians. It just can't help bubbling up.
He's a matter of national debate now. That's fine. The cynics are probably just having fun. As for his sports future, I make no predictions except to say I believe character will out.
Jay Ambrose, formerly Washington director of editorial policy for Scripps Howard newspapers and the editor of dailies in El Paso, Texas, and Denver, is a columnist living in Colorado and a Centennial Institute Fellow.
After moving to the Denver area four months ago, I have become intrigued with the commitment this area has for their NFL team.
After spending the last four weeks of the NFL regular season watching the Broncos throw away their shot at the playoffs, one thought kept entering my head: I'm glad I'm not a die-hard Broncs fan.
The agony of watching your team suffer like that is almost unbearable and is something true sports fans remember forever.
It was a different sort of agony Thursday night watching the Longhorns take on the Crimson Tide in the BCS Championship.
At first it was all excitement as I took in the pre-game and the electricity around the stadium. It seemed that this was going to be a special game.
Alabama gambled with a fake punt on their opening drive of the game which resulted in an interception and the momentum was immediately on Texas' side.
Just four snaps later, Texas QB Colt McCoy was coming off the field with an injury to his throwing shoulder and the entire feeling of the game changed.
Texas could not get in the end zone and settled for a field goal and the Longhorns offense suddenly looked like a prizefighter caught right on the chin with an uppercut from nowhere.
The offensive coordinators didn't know what to do. Over a month of gameplanning, analyzing and preparing McCoy for the No. 2 defense in the nation suddenly went out the window. The confusion was evident as the offense could not muster a first down until the third quarter.
The Texas defense and special teams did everything they could to help carry the suddenly stagnate offense, but the loss of McCoy and the inexperience of his replacement, freshman Garrett Gilbert, was too much too overcome.
There's a lot to be said for the way Texas hung in there and continued to make a game of it, and Alabama came surprisingly close to blowing what should have been an easy win.
Fortunately for the Tide, they had a spectacular defense and Heisman winner Mark Ingram, who turned in a solid performance.
I'm not a die-hard Longhorns fan, but there was a certain amount of pain watching what should have been college football at its highest level instantly be replaced by something subpar on the biggest stage possible.
But that's sports, for better or worse, and what's sick is we always come back for more.
"76 Contributor) As one of the many transplants who have moved from Texas to Colorado, I’ve picked up on several interesting differences between the sports scenes in Houston and Denver.
Denver is one of the most unique sports cities in the country with an eclectic mix of competition for fans to take in.
Obviously there are the big four with the Broncos, Rockies, Nuggets and the Avalanche, but there is so much more. From Major League and Arena soccer to Arena and Australian Rules Football. There are even two professional lacrosse teams in town, not to mention the array of high school and college sports.
In Texas it is no secret that football is king, from high school all the way to the NFL. But while support for the Texans has continued to grow through the years, Houston is light years behind Denver when it comes to supporting an NFL franchise.
High School football is another matter. While it has increased in popularity in Denver, the entire state of Texas is infatuated with that level of football, and the majority of the State champions at the top levels over the last decade have come from the Houston area.
Prep baseball in Houston is far superior to that in Denver, with a laundry list of top MLB players originating from Houston. Meanwhile the biggest MLB player from the Denver area at the moment would probably be Brad Lidge.
Of course that’s not a surprise considering the climate here and how difficult it is to play baseball in cold weather. Anyone who has ever caught a 90 MPH fastball in sub-50 degree temperatures or hit a ball off the end of the bat would agree.
I guess the most obvious difference between the two cities when it comes to sports is the variety. While Houston has the Rockets and the Houston Dynamo, which has won the MLS championship, it is dominated by football and baseball from the professional ranks down to high school.
Denver provides more options which sports fans clearly enjoy, and while the Broncos obviously reign supreme, fans relish the opportunity to take in the plethora of athletic competition the city provides.
Austin Corder has covered sports for the Amarillo Globe and San Antonio Express as well as his hometown Houston Chronicle. He now lives in Genessee, equidistant between Invesco Field and the ski areas.