Poor Stephen Tulloch. Last October, the Detroit Lions linebacker thought he was merely celebrating a sack of Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow. In reality, unbeknownst to anyone but Tebow, Tulloch was actually helping spread the word on prayer.
That was the essence of Tebow's reference to Tulloch's act of "Tebowing" after a sack in the Lions' 45-10 victory last season. Here's what Tebow said during an Easter Sunday speech in Texas, with video embedded courtesy of CNN:
"One of the first games, we're playing the Lions and I get sacked and the guy gets on a knee and is Tebowing on top of me. And I'm thinking, that's really supposed to be mocking me, but it's actually flattering, because you're praying. That's a good thing. … I'm not sure how to take it. Are you praying for me while you're on top of me or what?"
We're having a little fun, of course, but here's what was truly interesting about that game: It convinced the Broncos that Tebow couldn't be a traditional pocket quarterback, at least not in 2011. After the Lions sacked him a season-high seven times with an aggressive mixture of blitzes, the Broncos shifted to an offense that capitalized more on Tebow's running ability.
The following week, in fact, Tebow ran for 118 yards in a victory over the Oakland Raiders. That was the first of a six-game winning streak that propelled the Broncos to a playoff berth.
Theologians can debate whether Tulloch helped spread the word of prayer. But from a football perspective, it's pretty clear that he and the Lions did Tebow a favor. Had they not dominated him so thoroughly, the Broncos might not have made the changes they did so quickly.
(Hat tip to Anwar S. Richardson of Mlive.com for flagging the video.)