In a story about neo-Nazi Richard Spencer bouncing a check to the University of Florida is this bit of information. The university asked famous alumni, including Tim Tebow, to record a video encouraging racial tolerance in response to Spencer’s speech there. It’s not clear whether Tebow refused to do it or if ESPN wouldn’t let him, but he didn’t do it.
Tebow was in Gainesville days before Spencer’s speech for “SEC Nation,” the ESPN college football show on which he serves as an analyst. Chrystal-Green reached out to assistant athletic director Jon Rubin with “a favor to ask.”
“I’m sure you have seen the news about a white nationalist coming to speak at UF on Oct. 19,” Chrystal-Green wrote in an Oct. 6 email. “One of the things we are doing is showing a virtual assembly during the speech. We are getting in contact with famous alums asking to record a brief message of unity, togetherness, Gator Nation, etc. Obviously a message from Tim Tebow would be a great addition. Is there an easy method by which to ask him?”Rubin told Chrystal-Green to reach out to ESPN public relations officials about Tebow’s availability. An ESPN spokeswoman told HuffPost, “The university reached out to us to gauge Tim’s involvement in recording a video with regards to the Richard Spencer event at UF and we declined on his behalf.”
So either Tebow refused to do it or ESPN either wouldn’t let him or never told him. Either possibility is disturbing. Frankly, I doubt that Tebow would have said no. I’ve not seen or heard anything to suggest that he’s a racist, despite his many other ideological flaws. ESPN, on the other hand, has already punished Jemele Hill for speaking out against white supremacy and wants its TV personalities to avoid politics. But if they won’t even allow one of their employees to record a bland video in favor of racial tolerance in response to an actual neo-Nazi speaking on a campus, that’s absolutely appalling.
I hope reporters will push ESPN to tell the truth about this. Why wasn’t that video recorded? Was it because of Tebow or ESPN?