Robert Kahne: Rebuttal #5
I don’t mind Tim Tebow. I just can’t stand his fans.
Tim Tebow is a man I have often hated. Hailed as “The Greatest College Player Ever” by many, while he played for Florida, he was one of my most despised players ever. Tim Tebow ended the greatest run of Kentucky football ever in 2007 when Florida defeated Kentucky one week after Kentucky had taken down then-#1 and eventual national champion LSU and eventually rose to #8 in the AP poll. After the defeat of my beloved Wildcat at the hands of Tim Tebow, Kentucky started a downward trend which they are still striding upon. I listened with malice in my heart as Thom Brenaman (perhaps my least favorite sports personalities ever) gushed over him during the 2009 Sugar Bowl, and was extremely frustrated when he was indeed selected in the first round of the NFL draft by Josh McDaniels (perhaps my least favorite person to ever have coached professionally). But once he got to the pros, things changed a bit for me.
I am a fan of anti-heroes. I think they give us a unique perspective to grapple with which makes a narrative much more thoughtful. Tim Tebow has become one of the most interesting anti-heroes ever. Football purists cheer against him with all their might because he doesn’t fit into their mold of what a quarterback should be. I like Tim for this, because I think that if you find a unique way to find success, that should be celebrated, not demonized. Many criticize Tim for being an outspoken believer in evangelical, conservative Christianity. Though I don’t agree with him, I believe any individual in any line of work should be allowed to speak out about how they feel about any issue–and as long as people give you platforms on which to share, you are totally within your bounds to say whatever you will. I will never begrudge anyone’s success–those who are given much are lucky bastards, and good luck to them. I do, however judge what people do to success, and if I were in Tim’s shoes, I would be acting very similar to him, except for you can substitute my version of Christianity for his.
Where I have beef is with Tim’s fans. Like I said, as long as people keep giving you a platform on which to speak, you should use it. It frustrates me that people take him as seriously as they do–both on and off the field. On the field, Cam Newton has been far and away the greatest rookie quarterback of the year, and perhaps of all time. Remarkably similar to Tim, Cam is a non-traditional QB who depends on his legs. Unlike Tim, Cam can throw the ball. He can throw the ball really, really well. For whatever reason, people have decided to spend hours upon hours debating Tim Tebow instead of heaping unambiguous praise upon Cam Newton–who may end up changing the game of football. Off the field, it makes me sad that Tim’s platform has been used to spread a form of Christianity with which I am at odds.
Jonathan made some good points about how Tim’s own declarations of faith have been entirely positive. They seem heartfelt as well as robust and complete. However, the “pro-Tebow” sect of people are not as eternally positive. It’s unfortunate to me that Tim’s success has given further exposure to the type of Christianity that causes me to wince when I identify myself as a follower of Christ.
But none of this is his fault. Tim doesn’t make ESPN programming decisions, and Tim doesn’t answer to anyone about other people’s faith. I can’t say I fault Tim Tebow for anything he has done. It’s just too bad that his success has led to these other, less positive developments.