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"Stone Cold" talks Tebow and "3:16"
One of the greatest WWE Superstars to ever enter the squared circle is, without question, WWE Hall of Famer “Stone Cold” Steve Austin. Because of The Texas Rattlesnake, there is no series of numbers in WWE history as legendary as “3:16.” At King of the Ring 1996, “Austin 3:16” was immortalized after “Stone Cold” defeated Jake “The Snake” Roberts and exclaimed, “’Austin 3:16’ says I just whooped your ass!”
Of course, The Rattlesnake was referencing Roberts’ quoting the Bible and the verse John 3:16. That famous Biblical verse has garnered a fair amount of media attention in the past week following Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow’s NFL playoff performance against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Tebow, who used to inscribe “John 3:16” on his eye-black in college, passed for 316 yards. Additionally, the NCAA Heisman Trophy winner also averaged 31.6 yards per completion and the game’s overtime broadcast drew a 31.6 rating. Adding to the eerie numerical coincidences is the fact that Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger threw the game’s only interception of third down and 16 yards to go.
Happenstances aside, the John 3:16 reference reminded the WWE Universe of “Stone Cold’s” famous speech. WWE.com spoke with the WWE Hall of Famer about the origins of his famous catchphrase and Tebow’s use of it today.
WWE.com: At King of the Ring, when you famously exclaimed “Austin 3:16,” was it something you had been thinking about, or did it just come to you?
“STONE COLD” STEVE AUSTIN: As I was getting my lip stitched up following my match against Marc Mero, I was told that Jake Roberts just did an interview about me referencing “John 3:16.” I knew the verse, but I also remembered that at football games there was always a fan in the end zone holding up a sign that said “John 3:16.” So it was a pretty famous quote to begin with, and after I won the tournament it just came to me on the fly. To me, it was pure luck that “Austin 3:16” would become what it did.
WWE.com: Did you ever think that an “Austin 3:16” T-shirt would become one of the hottest sellers in WWE history?
AUSTIN: I remember I used to ask if there were any T-shirt ideas for me and there wouldn’t be. Then, after King of the Ring, I was asked for some ideas and I immediately thought, “Put ‘Austin 3:16’ on the front and a skull with ‘Stone Cold’ chiseled into its head on the back.” I don’t know how many of those were sold, but I know it was the number one selling T-shirt in WWE history.
WWE.com: The big news in sports right now is Tim Tebow. He used to wear “John 3:16” on his eye-black when he played in college, and he has taken the NFL by storm. As a devout Christian, Tebow is making the Biblical verse a top search term. You told TMZ.com recently that if he throws for exactly 316 yards again this weekend to beat the New England Patriots, you would relinquish the famous “3:16” to Tebow fully. What are your thoughts about him?
AUSTIN: I first started following Tebow’s career when he was a Florida Gator – not because of him, and hell, not even because of the Gators, but because I was a fan of then-Florida coach Urban Meyer. Because of that I witnessed Tebow’s phenomenal collegiate career. Now he’s a pro, and sure he’s having a great run right now, but it’s a whole new season next year. We’ll see how it plays out and if he’s even starting. I’m no football analyst or a real religious person, but I think he’s a great role model for young kids and I wish him the best. So yeah, if he can throw for another 316 yards and beat the New England Patriots, the “3:16” is all his.
WWE.com: What’s your prediction? Do you think it will happen?
AUSTIN: No, I don’t. But if anyone can pull it out of their rear- end, Tebow can. The kid sucks for three quarters and then wins. [Patriots quarterback] Tom Brady is one of my favorites, and one of the all-time greats, but New England’s defense isn’t great, so it could be another shootout like the Pittsburgh game. You never know what could happen, just like a WWE match.
WWE.com: Being that he’s a devout Christian, we may not see “Tebow 3:16” T-shirts to rival your “Austin 3:16” shirts. When referencing you and Tebow, some critics have pointed out that what you said could be considered blasphemous. Do you feel that has any truth?
AUSTIN: When I did “Austin 3:16,” it wasn’t meant to be anti-religious or anything. In fact, I can’t tell you how many priests and nuns have asked me for my autograph throughout my career. There was nothing sacrilegious about it. “’Austin 3:16’ says I just whooped your ass” was prophetic, and it became a phrase that defined my career. It is still one of the most popular phrases in WWE history, and anyone who doesn’t like it can piss off.