There are few athletes as visible as starting NFL quarterbacks, on or off the field. The league protects them from injury, sponsors throw cash them, and they get most of the attention from broadcasters looking for commentary, even after the QBs have hung up the cleats. The two quarterbacks in this year’s Super Bowl are no exceptions. Peyton Manning has a mini-empire of endorsements, while Drew Brees has emerged as a rallying point and morale leader for the renaissance of New Orleans, and both do good work in their communities. They’ve had to dodge defenses all year long to make it to the final game, but a quarterback who has yet to sign his first NFL contract may be dodging heavier criticism by the end of the game:
He’s not even in the NFL yet, but former University of Florida quarterback Tim Tebow is making a starring appearance at the 2010 Super Bowl in Miami.
While the Indianapolis Colts’ Peyton Manning and the New Orleans Saints’ Drew Brees will be the quarterbacks on the field, the Heisman Trophy-winning college star will appear with his mother, Pam, on TV in an ad for the pro-life Christian group Focus on the Family that will air during the game.
The 30-second ad’s theme is “Celebrate Family, Celebrate Life” and a Focus on the Family press release said the Tebows agreed to the ad because “the issue of life is one they feel strongly about.” As a result, the ad is widely expected to focus on Mrs. Tebow’s pregnancy with Tim, when she was encouraged by doctors to abort him.
Reportedly, CBS approved the ad because it doesn’t make an explicit political argument. Instead, it will tell the story of how Mrs. Tebow contracted amoebic dysentery while pregnant with Tim, and had to take harsh antibiotics in order to rescue her from her coma. Her doctors assured her that her child would be either stillborn or unable to survive long after birth and encouraged her to get an abortion. Instead, she decided to go full term with her pregnancy, and Tim Tebow was the result.
LaShawn Barber can’t wait to see the commercial — and the reaction:
America will see Tim Tebow (who wears “John 3:16” on his eyeblack) and his mother during the Super Bowl next month. They’ll deliver a pro-life message in a commercial sponsored by Focus on the Family. Naturally, pro-aborts are having a collective hissy fit. “Shut up and play ball!”
This country needs more young Christian men like Tebow, men who stand for what’s right and don’t cave to peer pressure. Young people struggling to live the Christian life (yes, Christians do struggle!) could use a few high-profile Christians bucking the system and risking ridicule. If he decides to go public with a sexually- abstinent-until-marriage message, even better.
I received one hint of the reaction yesterday in an e-mail for a post on the hysterical-Left site AlterNet, which framed the ad as “Football Player Tim Tebow on What Should Happen in Your Womb” — without either of us, of course, having seen the ad or the script. The description sounds much more like personal testimony than political harangue, and perhaps that’s why there will be such outrage over it. It’s very hard to dispute the fact that Tim Tebow isn’t stillborn, isn’t damaged, and that his parents’ faith allowed them to make the right decision and take a chance on life.
Expect to see this kind of hysterical criticism reach a crescendo when the ad airs, and then a quick deflation afterward. It’s just another form of advertising, after all, but instead of a new beer or bar of soap, it advertises faith in a personal and indisputable manner. Personal witness is the most powerful form of testimony that there is, and the most effective … which, again, is why we see the reaction that just the idea of it generates.
Tebow might have calculated that an NFL career is fraught with risk, and that his initial contract (which will be eight figures) could be his last due to untimely injury. Keeping his mouth shut may have allowed him to fully exploit the arena of personal endorsements, while making such a public stand on a contentious issue like abortion may very well cost him money in the short (and perhaps long) run. Tebow made a gutsy call on the biggest national stage outside of an election that he could possibly choose. Maybe that alone will have people listening to Tebow instead of dismissing him, much as his mother’s doctors did.