A market for Tebow

Two weeks ago, my husband informed me that April 22 was his second favorite day of the year. What’s so special about this day, you ask? The NFL draft, and he plans to plant himself in front of a television set most of the day. (His favorite day is the NFL’s opening day, which might coincide with our September anniversary someday).

The Palm Beach Post‘s Dave George is pretty sure former Florida Gators quarterback Tim Tebow will be the big news of the draft. That’s bad news for sports reporters suffering from Tebow fatigue.

If all of that is part of some elaborate smoke screen, again and always it is Tebow at the center of the flame.

When Jerry Jones slurred his words on a pirated YouTube video last week, it was Tebow who the Cowboys’ owner slurred with his words.

When the NCAA ruled recently that printed messages no longer will be allowed to be written on a college player’s eye black, Tebow was the name everyone associated with the practice.

There is no offseason, you see, for those suffering from Tebow fatigue. How many months already have been burned studying his elongated throwing mechanics, as if any quarterback leaves college without further need of instruction?

Then you have columnists who think Tebow could help the Ben Rothlesburger situation (The NFL suspended Rothlesburger for violating the personal-conduct policy after someone made a sexual assault allegation against him). Here’s the sarcastic scenario from Jason Gay at the Wall Street Journal.

“Well, where do you want to roll tonight, Teeb?” Mr. Roethlisberger says

“That’s a great question,” Mr. Tebow says. “I’ve never been to Pittsburgh. I was thinking we might start by building a birdhouse for the local nursing home. Then we could make some jambalaya and serve it to those fellows I saw beneath the underpass on the way from the airport. And then, if we’re still up to it, we could get a couple hammers, go to those vacant buildings and free any feral cats that might be trapped in the drywall.”

Coming right up, we have yet another case of the media skimming over the details of Tebow’s faith. The Associated Press examines this Tebow obsession with a story from Antonio Gonzalez on his marketability.

Tim Tebow’s marketing power is already reaching its potential, even if his NFL future isn’t quite so certain.

When Tebow strolled through a gym recently with a five-man entourage for an EA Sports video game photo session, the polarizing figure drew stares from people and clicks from cell-phone cameras. Toddlers jumped when he passed the day care center, nudging their noses against the windows. Even they seemed to recognize his appeal was something special.

So why is Tebow so polarizing again? There’s one mere mention that Tebow is a Christian–in the 15th paragraph–and no mention of the Focus on the Family advertisement. I guess his image is just, as the reporter puts it, “too-good-to-be-true.”

Tebow understands some might disagree with his personal views.

No longer restricted by the NCAA, he has ventured into the marketplace. Just don’t expect to see him pitching beer or male-enhancement pills anytime soon. But he said he won’t shy away from his beliefs.

Tebow will stick to companies that he deems have a positive message.

Besides “Christian,” what are his beliefs again? Has Tebow said he won’t advertise for beer or male-enhancement pills or is that an assumption made by the reporter? Unless the reporter helps fill in some more religious background clues, we don’t really feel the tension.

Perhaps reporters working on future stories could ask Tebow about his claim about companies who wouldn’t represent him after the Focus on the Family ad. Here’s Ben Volin’s blog post for the Post.

As to his first tenet, standing for what he believes in, Tebow told the crowd that multiple companies told him before the Super Bowl that they could not let him represent their products if he went ahead with his pro-life commercial at the Super Bowl. But Tebow said losing sponsors was a small price to pay for the ability to spread his message about family and faith.

Tebow hasn’t been too hurt by the commercial, though, which was sponsored by the controversial group Focus on the Family. Tebow has already been linked to major sponsorships with Nike and EA Sports, and likely has several more in the works.

Can Tebow offer any examples of companies who said so? Hopefully someone will follow-up on these statements.

Tebow is probably not going away, so its important to keep some sort of religious context in future coverage. There’s no need to hammer away, reminding people every single detail about his faith, but the story would be more interesting if the background is explained a little bit more. Another paragraph or two explaining the tensions would go a long way.

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  • Jerry

    (His favorite day is the NFL’s opening day, which might coincide with our September anniversary someday).

    Uh oh.

  • Julia

    In St Louis recently on KMOX radio, all news and talk radio before it was cool, two radio guys were talking about a sports show coming on later with Kurt Warner as the guest. The news guy asked the sports guy what he was going to discuss with the former St Louis Ram’s QB. I’m paraphrasing here.

    Oh, I thought we could talk about the draft and Tebow, in particular.

    What about Tebow?

    Well, how Kurt thinks Tebow and his faith might go over in the NFL.

    Wow, you’re going to talk about Tebow’s religion on the air? That’s pretty gutsy.

    Well, Kurt was pretty upfront about his faith here. He lived it on and off the field so people pretty much accepted it. I’d like to hear what Kurt thinks about Tebow being open about his faith, too, in the big leagues.

  • http://getreligion.org Bobby

    Looks like he’s on the front page of USA Today (photo of him in front of three crosses) with this headline: Tim Tebow: Is he a miracle worker, or just an average QB?.

  • Sarah Pulliam Bailey

    Julia, that sounds like it’ll be an interesting show. I’d be curious what Kurt Warner has to say about athletes who talk about their faith. I’d like to know if he thinks there’s a danger with seeming over the top, or what happens if an athlete fails.

    Bobby, great catch. I skimmed it pretty quickly, but it looks like it hits a lot of Tebow’s background.

  • Steve

    I don’t remember there being any “Tiger fatigue” when he turned pro. It was more like the Second Coming.

  • Julia

    Sarah:

    Unfortunately, I didn’t get to hear the show.


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