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Reverent Tebow is the kneel deal

David Nelson knew the drill long before the media assembled around his locker stall Tuesday in the Bills' practice facility. He's a close friend and former teammate of Tim Tebow and joked with him a day earlier about sharing embarrassing stories, as if he could reveal some dark secrets.

In truth, Nelson thought there was something weird about Tebow when they first met at Florida. The quarterback burst onto the national scene as a high school sophomore and was one of the most celebrated recruits in history. Nelson discovered the freshman screaming passionately in the weight room.

"We were all like, 'What's wrong with this guy?' " Nelson said. "As we got to know who he was and what he's about, we realized it wasn't fake. It was really genuine and that's how he approaches everything in life. He goes full speed ahead in everything he does, and that's why he's been so successful."

It didn't sound like there was anything wrong with Tebow after hearing 13 1/2 minutes of unadulterated kindness during his conference call Tuesday. He had a difficult time remembering the last time he had a cross word about anybody. His faith emerged, as always, but he didn't force-feed Christianity.

Unless you've been tied up, and by that I mean tied up and imprisoned in a third-world jungle, you know that Tebow has become the rage. No athlete in the United States has been discussed more than he has while leading the Broncos to five fourth-quarter comebacks and six victories in eight games.

He's an international phenomenon. His last name has become a verb. A hilarious "Saturday Night Live" skit about him has gone viral. Based on public reaction over the past two months, Tebow will show up Christmas Eve wearing his No. 15 jersey and carrying a cross into Ralph Wilson Stadium.

"I consider myself extremely blessed to be playing quarterback for a great organization, to have an opportunity to live out my dream with a bunch of great teammates and coaches," Tebow said. "I'm really enjoying it and trying to get a little better every day. At this time of the year, you realize how blessed you are."

Tebow is a polarizing figure. Many wish more children and professional athletes would emulate him. Some view him as a phony. Others admire him for his virtuous lifestyle while accusing him of becoming overexposed and using the NFL stage as a personal pulpit.

Say what you will, but it's easy to cheer for a guy like him. All indications show a genuine, unapologetic do-gooder. His foundation built a hospital in the Philippines, where he was born while his parents served as Christian missionaries. He's simply a good human being.

Bills coach Chan Gailey, who was friends with Tebow's father while both attended Florida and recruited Tim while coaching at Georgia Tech, was quick to praise the quarterback Tuesday. Veteran Chris Kelsay spoke of him in reverent tones and admired him for using his platform for the right reasons.

No wonder people are Tebowing, striking his familiar pose of dropping to one knee with a hand to his forehead. Skier Lindsey Vonn sparked rumors she was dating Tebow after Tebowing. Apparently, they're just friends. Twin brothers were suspended from a Long Island high school for leading a group that clogged the hallway while Tebowing. His message: Kids, obey school rules.

I'll take Tebow dropping to one knee and thanking God for blessing him with talent and opportunity over shallow athletes who thank their savior for winning, as if God cared about the result. It beats Stevie Johnson using his finger as a pistol, turning himself into an airplane and crashing into the end zone.

If Tebow succeeded here, fans wouldn't criticize him for Tebowing. They would genuflect before him.

email: bgleason@buffnews.com

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