Chicago Sun-Times
A hearty stew of offbeat sports and pop culture.

Tim Tebow Super Bowl ad controversy premature, expected

| 25 Comments | No TrackBacks

Go ahead, hate Tim Tebow.

Hate the hype machine that's anointed him as the second coming. Hate the around-the-clock coverage of his every move. Hate the fact that his shirtless picture rocketed to the top of Google Trends.

Go ahead, hate what he stands for.

Hate the overt Christianity. Hate any holier-than-thou perception he gives you. Hate the fact that he talks about things you don't want to hear football players talk about.

But don't spend a second of your time wringing your hands, hating the fact that he'll appear for thirty seconds during the oh-so-sacred Super Bowl.

Because when the former Florida Gators quarterback and aspiring NFL prospect appears during a commercial break of Super Bowl XLIV, it's only the next logical step in a progression that's been slower-developing than his throwing release.

The handwriting has been on the wall for some time, as bold clear as the Bible verses printed on his eye black.

Tebow wants to use his position of power to improve the world.

So he'll be there, likely sandwiched between the buxom babes of Go Daddy and the 134th beer commercial of the day, with his mother, Pam. She'll talk about her tumultuous 1987 pregnancy, when she was advised to terminate her pregnancy due to health complications. She'll talk about how she carried the baby to term and how he grew up to be the Heisman-winning, divisive figure we all know as Tim.

The ad, sponsored by conservative Christian group Focus on the Family, is the subject of a growing wave of controversy.

After all, it addresses, if not directly, the subject of abortion. A subject that inflames the public with the heat of 1,000 SEC grudge matches.

The message of the ad -- and we're really left to speculate because reports to this point have failed to paint a complete picture -- is that none of this would have happened if Mrs. Tebow had heeded the medical advice.

Many groups are imploring CBS to cut the spot. It seems everyone has an opinion.

On Tuesday, "The View" co-host Joy Behar said, "The only argument against any of it is, that, you know, he could just as easily become some kind of a rapist pedophile. I mean, you don't know what someone's going to be."

Just like Behar was able to state her opinion, Tebow should be able to share his -- so long as it's done cordially. Again, there is nothing to suggest this will be a grotesque, shock-value publicity stunt filled with attacks.

Still, it's a topic bound to get people riled up.

Most people probably prefer to keep their football and their social issues away from each other.

Tebow isn't most people.

If his first action as a "professional" football player is this, what makes you think it will be the last time he gets up on his soapbox?

In no way is this a ringing endorsement of the pro-life message. It's an endorsement of people taking a giant step back and looking at this so-called controversy in the proper perspective.

If other ads can glorify promiscuity and drunkenness, why can't the puritans have their chance to rebut? Isn't that part of what makes our First Amendment so great?

The first question is how much of a nuisance will this be to those who don't want to see it. The second is how much of an impact will it really have.

A vast majority of Americans already have their mind irreversibly made up about the issue. What makes anyone think that a half-minute of Tebow and his mom is going to affect a great change?

Without the preceding histrionics surrounding it, how many people would have just seen it air live and shrug it off as weird?

At the end of the day, it's thirty seconds of life. Thirty seconds for some people to enjoy and thirty seconds for others to turn their nose up at.

After that, it will be over. Peyton Manning and Drew Brees will be back on the screen in the big game. Conceivably, two minutes later, no one will be thinking about it.

The cynic would say that controversy is the lifeblood of advocacy groups. The more outrage, the more attention. The more attention, the bigger the impact.

Maybe this is all by design.

If there is an issue, it's that someone like Tebow, whose struggled mightily in his preparations for Saturday's Senior Bowl, is setting himself up for an uphill climb in the NFL.

Here he is, an undrafted player garnering all this attention -- much of it negative. There's a very real chance it could adversely affect a team's willingness to take him on. It's not the typical kind of baggage, but it's baggage nonetheless.

One get the sense, however, that Tebow doesn't care about that. Those who have covered him say there is no shtick to his act. This is who he is: a football player who might care more about his message than his football.

It's looking like he'll be sharing that message on Super Bowl Sunday.

For thirty short seconds, he'll have the country's ear.

Why not wait until we hear exactly what he has to say before we hate?

No TrackBacks

TrackBack URL:


thank you for a well written open-minded article

If I never heard another comment by Joy Behar I would be extremely happy!

Wasn't Muhammed Ali very controversial in the 70's (politics, war, religion) yet people adore him? But when there is a good (ethical) athlete with good intentions, people hate on weird. Kobe can "allegedly" cheat on his wife by raping another woman and he is still beloved by many. Jason Kidd can beat his pregnant girlfriend/wife, and it's hardly an afterthought.

Tim Tebow who has integrity, honesty, and does his best to act in an ethical manner can't have a commercial but the Mormons and Scientologists can have multiple commercials on TV every day?? C'mon folks, you're the ones being hypocritical.

I know this is very brief, but it seems like our society accepts and praises those with loose (if any) morals, and hates on those with religious convictions and good intentions. Except in Muhammed Ali's case...and the Mormons and Scientologits...etc, etc.

And folks, just be glad your mother didn't abort you...

I just read your article and I find it interesting that we live in a country that on one side calls out, "How dare you not let me be me...Especially if the me I want to represent is outwardly gay" However, when someone wants to be outwardly Christian, we say, "How dare you share your views with me!"

I would challenge you to look at both sides. I invite you to watch this link about a woman who worked for a Planned Parenthood in Texas and what has happened to her.

Yes, this subject is passionate. I have worked in the pro-life community for years. Why you might ask? My reasons are many. First, I am a product of a unwanted pregnancy. Secondly, I have given birth to a stillborn baby. Again, I invite you to watch this video made by my 18 year old daughter about that event.

I applaud your article and I think that the pro-choice camp knows that 30 seconds can make a difference in someone's life.

I believe what Tebow is doing shows how strong and truly genuine he really is. I don't understand how people can be ok with a commercial that shows a girl half naked or two people having "better" sex because they used some product, yet they are not ok with someone showing how choosing life, gave some one a chance.

Ya, sexuality is a natural thing that is part of life. But last time i a check, life is part of life two.

I admire and appericat Tebow so much for staying strong and being such an amazing example to all those watching him.

And i love and thank my Mom every day for all she does for me, expectally for giving me the chance to LIVE my LIFE.

Not sure what the big flap is here, or how it got so blown up in advance of its airing.

I do appreciate this post, though I'd be inclined to disagree that Tebow's primary motivation is to "change the world".

I do believe that the ad will largely be forgotten by most game watchers, but that's not the point; at any given time there are people who are dealing with a risky or unexpected pregnancy, and are seeking insight on what decision to make regarding the pregnancy. Those are the folks who need to hear what Tebow has to say at this very time.

Implicit in the issue and whatever side we may take is what the nature of human life is. There ought to be no suppressing the message that life is a gift, which implies a Giver, but yet it is inherent in all of us at least from time to time to do exactly that. I anticipate that the Tebows' message will remind us to believe what is contary to our natural inclination.

Advocacy ads should not be aired during football. The Superbowl is sacred! So let's start with those Haiti earthquake relief ads and announcements. The last thing I want to see or hear about while I'm slurping down my 4th slice of pizza is some starving, battered, homeless kid. It ruins the taste of the pepporoni, you know? And how dare anyone try to use sports, especially football, to promote values like selflessness, love, goodness, steadfastness, and honor??? That has no place in sports! And a commercial about a mom who so loved her unborn son she risked her life and opened herself up for the struggle of caring for a disabled child? That is anti-woman in the extreme!!! Not only is it in bad taste, if word of this spreads it could psychologically batter all women....

great article.. I admire Tebow not so much for his football talent however his willingness to stand for what he believes and stand for what is right regardless what those around him have to say about him or what they may think of him. he is in a great position to be able to have so many that he can actually witness to. What a great calling he has on his life.

Tim has the right to do commercials, why he's to be blamed. go ahead Tim. for SuperBowl, I already had my tix from and I'm waiting impatiently. can't wait! oh my god!

I applaud you for a well-written, insightful piece. Thank you for sharing it.

Whether or not the ad is in good taste is not the issue. The fact that people can be so closed minded and intolerant of faith, but completely accepting of crude humor and erectile dysfunction ads show what state we are in as a country. I completely agree with Bill O'Reilly. Faith in our country is under attack.

A lot of the comments on this article are pro-Tim Tebow and his choices. Here's some comments for the "other side" of this argument:

1) I thought this article was well-written and brought up some solid points. Especially the fact that all this controversy is about a 30-second clip that will hardly impact anyone (relative to the number of people that will view it). So who cares really? However...

2) @JV (3rd comment above): You say, "Tim Tebow who has integrity, honesty, and does his best to act in an ethical manner can't have a commercial but the Mormons and Scientologists can have multiple commercials on TV every day??" JV, you're missing the point. If Tebow's commercial was being aired on a normal channel, on a normal day, this wouldn't be an issue at all. The reason this is an issue is because the Super Bowl has set a precedent for not allowing advocacy commercials. 'Last year, NBC made the prudent decision to not air anti-choice messages during the Super Bowl. CBS executives have indicated in the past that they would not air Super Bowl ads where "substantial elements of the community (are) in opposition to one another."' Yet now they are airing a commercial that is seemingly about abortion? Seems odd to me...Also, JV, I don't think it's necessarily fair to just throw out that Tebow has integrity, honesty, and does his best to act in an ethical manner. This could come back to bite me, but do you personally know him? I don't know about you, but I don't take what people do in the public eye to be a direct correlation to the people they truly are. Yes, Tebow could act and be the exact same person that he shows the public. But there are plenty of examples of people that have a certain public image that is very different from the person they truly are. Want a perfect example, look at Tiger Woods. To clarify, I'm not saying Tebow does what Tiger Woods has done. I'm just saying that I don't think it's fair to attribute all these greats traits to him without really knowing him. [source:]

3) Regarding the actual story of the commercial. Tebow's mother tells the story that she was highly advised not to have the baby, but she did anyway and now look at who the baby turned into. But here's the thing, the whole reason she had the baby in the end was BECAUSE SHE HAD A CHOICE. She wasn't forced to have the baby. And she wasn't forced to abort the baby. She had a CHOICE. I think it's a bit hypocritical to now advocate something that would remove this choice for women.

4) Tebow has been on record stating what he believes in, "If others don't have the same belief, it's OK. I understand. But I hope they respect that at least I have the courage to stand up for what I believe in." You're asking people to be open-minded about your belief, while at the same time appearing in a commercial for something that would ideally (for him) remove someone's right to do something that they believe in. So he wants everyone to be open-minded to his beliefs, but he's being close-minded about others' beliefs? Again, seems a big hypocritical to me. [source same as above]

5) Lastly, I'm not judging either way, but I'm not sure the group associated with this commercial, Focus On The Family, is a group CBS absolutely wants to be associated with if "not taking sides" is on their agenda. This Christian Evangelical group stands for "diagnosing 'conditions' like 'Prehomosexuality', arguing that gays and lesbians can change their orientation (by manipulating research so blatantly that the author of the report released a video statement explaining that change is possible, but highly unlikely), Advocating for 'gender security', and warning against 'feminizing boys and masculinizing girls', and explaining how abortion is leading away women from the 'God-designed choice for life'. Again, is this what CBS wants to be associated with? If so, that's a pretty bold statement that could alienate a lot of viewers. [source: same as above]

My guess is that what CBS wants is money. And that's my guess as to why CBS is running this commercial when it goes against the precedent that they, and other networks, have set for Super Bowl commercials.

What an amazing & courageous young man Tim Tebow is! Although I have varied opinions on the topic of abortion, I applaud Tim for using his celebrity status to speak out on a topic he is so passionate about. I totally understand where he is coming from, as he is a living example of what he believes to be right. What better place for Tim to make his feelings known than during the Super Bowl.....after all, football has always been his venue for speaking out and as a former Heismann Trophy winner, he has earned that right. If we can watch Janet Jackson expose herself during the Super Bowl and if we are forced to watch ads for birth control, sexuality boosting drugs and more while watching prime time TV, how can anyone even think this young man does not have the right to air this ad?

Oh, by the way......if I were an NFL coach, I would recognize this rare, strong and unique individual for his wonderful personal qualities as well as his amazing athletic abilities and be waiting in line to be the first to draft him! What an excellent role model for young athletes as well as his fellow teammates!

@Evie, like I said above, the same role model you're talking about has partnered with a group that stands for "diagnosing 'conditions' like 'Prehomosexuality', arguing that gays and lesbians can change their orientation (by manipulating research so blatantly that the author of the report released a video statement explaining that change is possible, but highly unlikely), advocating for 'gender security', and warning against 'feminizing boys and masculinizing girls', and explaining how abortion is leading away women from the 'God-designed choice for life'". I don't know, but I don't think I would want my children to use someone as their role model who stands for issues like that.

Interesting that some view the first amendment as a relative thing. The Tebows' can state their views as long as it's done 'cordially.' Was Ms. Behar's comments ("he might easily become a racist pedophile") cordial, or for that matter even rational, by anyone's definition?

By her odd standard, who on the planet could we not muzzle in advance of free speech?

It also fascinates me that the folks supporting abortion prefer to call themselves "pro-choice." The same folks, ironically, would love to erase anything in the public's view that addresses a choice other than abortion. There is apparently, in their view, no choice or freedom involved.

Tim Tebow is a mighty fine athlete with a story to tell. Take it or leave it. His life story sure doesn't affect his throwing arm!
He's what we used to call the All-American boy!
As a teacher, I wish I had a few more Tim Tebows in my classroom.
Good luck in the draft, Tim! I wish you well!
Semper Fi

Jim, I guess I will respond to you.

1. I agree with you here, hardly anyone is going to change their view based on a 30 second commercial. Hopefully it encourages people to do some research and know why they believe what they do (whatever "side" of the issue they're on). Too many people are sheep. So right...who cares...except it seems many people do based on the backlash of it all. It's funny, Jim Brown can be political and he is beloved. In 1968 at the Olympics we had the black fist salute. But now all of a sudden athletes like Tim Tebow can't be political??...that's being hypocritical Jim! The 1st amendment is here for a reason.

2. I also agree, and if we (society) never even knew about this ad ahead of time, many people would have watched it and either been happy with it or shrugged it off, or made a snide comment and the following week it would have all been forgotten. But we are in such a knee-jerk reactive society it seems any small miniscule thing gets blown up like gasoline on a fire. The reason it is an issue is because people found out about it ahead of time. What should have had a firestorm was last year's PETA half-porn ad where many 5 and 9 year old children were subject to adult content. It's funny how that was allowed and accepted but Tim Tebow can't share his personal opinion about something that will hopefully spur people to be better educated about (again, doesn't matter what side of the issue you're on, the point here is know why you believe what you do). And Jim...can we at least WATCH the commercial before people decide to get all outraged.

I don't need to personally know Tim Tebow. Of course no one is perfect, but at least the guy has SHOWN to act with integrity. He professes his beliefs all the time, his values, he wears them on his sleeve as he's a follower of Jesus. Not once have I heard what Tiger's values are and am pretty sure he's not a follower of Jesus! I am going on Tim's track record of the words he's said and the actions he's shown in his 21 years of life so far. He isn't just lip service but lives his faith out. I know people who know him, but I don't know him personally. If you do ask the people who know him personally and deeply (coaches, teammates, longtime childhood friends) they will all tell you the same thing. The dude is for real. Tim Tebow is one of the most scrutinized and followed athletes in the U.S.A. (let alone Gainsville). He is also one of the most public. Tiger is an opposite there, he is very private.

3. Again, can we wait to see the commercial before assuming what they are going to say in it. I highly doubt that they are going to say that people should be forced to have all babies, lol. Again, this could come back to bite me, but let's watch the commercial first. I'm hoping they present information and help educate people about all the intangibles of this choice. I hope they aren't like Lebron James and TELLING you who to vote for (Obama). (Again, somehow that is accepted that Lebron can tell us his opinion about something political, and TELL us what to do, but Tim Tebow can't share his opinion).

4. I don't think Tim is trying to remove people's rights.
Let's watch the commercial first before we comment on this point anymore. To be fair we can't assume what he's going to say, deal?

5. CBS isn't "taking sides". Heck, I already mentioned them view crazy PETA ads. Just because a TV channel shows a commercial it doesn't mean it supports those companies. I don't know much about the "prehomosexuality" but I know most of America believes in Evolution even though non-religious scientists say the chance of it is possible, but highly unlikely.
Just throwing that one back at ya. =)

CBS can show whatever commercials the FCC will allow. Many commercials are from companies or organizations that are totally against each other. Who would CBS "cheer" for there? =). Of course CBS wants money. That's why they will likely take it from that gay male dating website ad that's likely going to run during the Superbowl. You know, the one about the guys reaching into the bowl at the same time, then having a passionate make out session. Again, not something I'd prefer to have a 5 year old or 9 year old watch (man and woman, or man and mand). Many people will be outraged that it will be man and man, but society will say it's not "right" for those people to be outraged, but it's ok for people to be outraged at the Tim Tebow ad. Hypocritical...

Thanks for the conversation so far Jim. And let's agree to commend the kid for living out what he believes. Too many adolescents just don't care about life issues these days.

I wonder how many superbowls Tebow will "star" in over his career

I fail to understand the attacks against Tim Tebow over the commercial. As I understand it, he simply tells how his mother considered abortion due to health issues, but decided to have the baby. The baby turned out ot be an outstanding young man. The pro-choice people want us to believe that they don't advocate for abortion, just for the right to have one. I'm think this thing has riled up the abortion advocates because money is involved. Abortion is very profitable for some folks. Why else would they care about a beautiful story of life and faith?

JV, sorry for the delayed response on this one. I'm glad you took the time to respond to my comments.

We agree on some of these things, and disagree on some of these things. But I appreciate the fact that your opinions seem to be well-thought out. The main theme from your last comment was that we should wait and see what is actually said in the commercial. I agree. It's kind of stupid for everyone to get all fired up for something that will probably not be even remotely close to as controversial as a lot of us thought it was going to be.

Also, good points about Tiger. Admittedly, that probably wasn't the best comparison for me to use. The difference between Tebow (public, outspoken) and Tiger (100% private) is pretty significant. I still stand behind my original statement, though: just because we see how someone acts in the public eye doesn't _necessarily_ mean we know who that person truly is. I just probably shouldn't have used Tiger.

To wrap this up, we've both stated our opinions. No one ever convinces someone else to jump over to the other side in these arguments...especially over the internet. So I'll leave it at that. I'm actually kind of stunned that these comments / responses have been as civil and respectful as they have been. I rarely post my opinions on these things because I am always expecting to get ridiculous, immature responses back. But this was actually refreshing. Like you said, thanks for the conversation.

@Billy, I'm not sure if you were referring to me or not about attacking Tim Tebow. Just to be clear, my comments weren't about Tim Tebow as a person. My comments were about CBS and the issue in general.

First off, I really do not believe that this 30 second blip will do anything for or against the pro-life or pro-choice argument. Frankly, it just creates an even more difficult way for Tebow to be respected in the NFL. Why? Because he thought so much of himself and his stature that he thought we all think as much of him. Well, I could really care less what Tim Tebow and his mother have to say about abortion. I feel Tim Tebow is literally attacking womens' rights and its downright repulsive. Focus on the Family is a radical, terroristic organization that practices extremist views. I would love for this garbage to stay off the airwaves, but no one can do anything to stop it at this point. Having said that, I am not pro-abortion in any way, shape, or form. However, it is not my right to take away anyone else's rights in this country. I have the right to do whatever I want with my body, period. I also do not have the right to judge someone upon their decision to abort. It is simply not my right and no one else's right. End of discussion. What if someone forced pregnancy upon you? How messed up is that? Exactly. And that is precisely why Roe v. Wade shall never be overturned. Tebow's mom should thank her lucky stars she had a CHOICE in the matter. What if pregnancy was not a choice in 1987? And, she died giving birth. I wonder where Tebow would have ended up-likely not on his way to the NFL. Protect human rights.


agreed. People like Rocko now look foolish, people who thought that Tebow commercial was terroristic, repulsive, and garbage. It could be described has somewhat boring with a bit of humor in it though. But clearly not an extremist message that everyone assumed it would be (i.e. attacking women's rights). I think we can all safely move on. I would respond to Rocko, but this isn't the place for a discussion just on abortion. Rocko, if you'd like to continue this chat, please email me at

Take care all. Thanks Kyle for the great article and discussion board! You have a great blog.



agreed. People like Rocko now look foolish, people who thought that Tebow commercial was terroristic, repulsive, and garbage. It could be described has somewhat boring with a bit of humor in it though. But clearly not an extremist message that everyone assumed it would be (i.e. attacking women's rights). I think we can all safely move on. I would respond to Rocko, but this isn't the place for a discussion just on abortion. Rocko, if you'd like to continue this chat, please email me at

Take care all. Thanks Kyle for the great article and discussion board! You have a great blog.


the commercial was a waste of 3 million dollars if you ask me.
made no sence what so ever, wierd..and what was the point of him putting a tackle on his mom?..just stupid.

next time you pro life nuts shouldnt be soo vague, do what you always do and show a 30 second clip of a dead fetus.
its what jesus would do.

Leave a comment

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Kyle Koster published on January 28, 2010 6:33 AM.

Paul Shirley's thoughts on Haiti causing some trouble was the previous entry in this blog.

Blindfolded teacher who made half-court shot gets his Final Four tickets is the next entry in this blog.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.


Powered by Movable Type 5.04