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NFL quarterback Tim Tebow, who led the Denver Broncos into an unlikely playoff appearance a year ago but then was traded to the New York Jets, now is being recruited by the Vatican.
According to a report from Catholic News Service, Tebow is being sought for a special conference on returning values to sports.
The Vatican is inviting top-tier Christian athletes like Tebow and Jeremy Lin, of the Houston Rockets of the NBA, to the international conference held by the Pontifical Council for Culture.
Representatives who also will be on hand will be from the International Federal of Association Football, the International Cycling Union, and the Italian National Olympic Committee, the report said.
Catholic News said Msgr. Melchor Sanchez de Toca Alameda is head of the council’s “Culture and Sport” division and reported pro sports are just another business these days.
“It has reduced people to merchandise,” he told Catholic News, and no longer focuses on building values and respecting human dignity.
He cited the recent admission by U.S. bicyclist Lance Armstrong that he routinely cheated through his career, which included seven Tour de France victories, honors that later were pulled because of his cheating.
Alameda described such situations as “a world that is rotten,” Catholic News said.
The conference titled “We Believe in Sports” is to allow the church to “work with the big sports bodies to give new value to sports.”
CNS reported the council hopes its participant line-up would include two high-profile Christian U.S. sports stars: Tebow and Lin.
The Vatican earlier called Armstrong’s confession of career-long cheating the “tip of the iceberg.”
Both Tebow and Lin have presented strong Christian statements through their careers.
Tebow, a two-time veteran of college’s national championship game, took over the Broncos, who were 1-4 at the time, in the 2011-2012 season. He led the team to several stunning come-from-behind victories, and led the team to its first playoff game victory since 2005.
New England eliminated the Broncos from the playoffs the next week.
He was traded to the Jets at the beginning of the most recent season when the Broncos acquired veteran quarterback Peyton Manning, who engineered an 11-game win streak this season but led the team to playoff elimination in the same round as Tebow the year before.
Tebow’s practice of thanking God after a successful play became known as “Tebowing.”
Lin worked his way through college without an athletic scholarship and was in the NBA’s development league before being waived by the Warriors and the Rockets. He then joined the New York Knicks early in the 2011-2012 season and played sparingly.
Then in February he moved onto the court and unexpectedly led a win streak while being promoted to the starting lineup.
Also an evangelical Christian, Lin sparked the slogan “Linsanity” with some of his extraordinary play during that time.