Tebow's Folly: Better a Superfreak Than a Jesus Freak

Divine Florida Gators quarterback and bona-fide Christian soldier Tim Tebow has everyone riled up about his upcoming anti-abortion Super Bowl ad. The arguing's unnecessary. You're only hurting yourself, Timmy. America's not ready for a Jesus Freak Superstar.

Tim Tebow played football at my high school (after I left). He was a ringer—he was home-schooled, to avoid the cultural pollution of a public school (forced on innocent students by teachers like my mom), then he came on over at the end of the day to kick everyone's ass at football and baseball. Knowing where Tebow's from, I have no problem believing that his Christian holiness is not an act. He's a real live believer. Jesus is lord, and that's all there is to it.

But the route from Nease High School down to the University of Florida at Gainesville is only about 70 miles, and none of those miles are located outside the North Florida Bible Belt. Tebow's been living in a Jesus bubble his whole life. He is just as much a victim of his circumstances as a Crip in South Central who can't imagine not shooting his enemies. Except Tebow's shooting with a gun made of Jesus.

The problem is that Tebow is now set to leave for the big stage of the NFL, at which point his bubble is going to pop. American professional sports are no place for the good and pure. The NFL rests on only the thinnest veneer of God and Country. In reality, it is a stage upon which an entire nation projects its warlike bloodlust.

You see, Timmy, Americans don't want football heroes who walk around with actual, visible halos. Marketers don't want that, either. For all the lip service paid to clean living, America really doesn't give a fuck if its celebrity product endorsers cheat on their wives or gamble or smoke weed. Tiger Woods will be back soon enough, and Michael Jordan and Michael Phelps already are. This makes them relatable. Very few consumers can relate to a guy who is a virgin by choice despite having the entire UF student body at his disposal (we anxiously await your inevitable sex scandal, btw). Before you know it you'll be stuck endorsing megachurches and Christian t-shirt companies while your straying teammates sell Gatorade and Taco Bell and Ford Trucks to their fellow sinners.

In football, furthermore, Americans like a little taste of the criminal. Look at the guys who've made the cover of Madden Football recently: Michael Vick was imprisoned for dog fighting, Ray Lewis beat a murder rap. Does anyone really care? No, they do not. Deep down, people enjoy the knowledge that their supermasculine heroes behave in supermasculine ways, by fucking and fighting and getting fucked up. Consumers need to enjoy that cozy feeling of aspirational identification in order to smooth the way towards product purchases.

The point is, Timmy, that just because people say they admire your missionary work and your Bible-verse quotes and your constant invocation of Jesus' name doesn't mean they actually do. Your appeal outside the South is already woefully limited. Add in the fact that you're happily wading into the public debate on the more acceptably debatable portions of Christian doctrine, and you're just giving everyone a good excuse to write you off. I admire your guileless good will, Tim Tebow. But nobody likes a goody-goody. This, after all, is America.