WASHINGTON (CBSDC) – While it’s becoming harder to defend his quarterback abilities, there is no doubt what’s made Tim Tebow an unforgettable storyline in the NFL is a direct result of his undeniable affiliation with his faith.
No other player who has yet to prove himself on the field consistently has commanded as much attention from fans, and there is certainly no other quarterback in the league to throw for just 8 passes and still finish in the top ten in NFL jersey sales the same season, as Tebow did in 2012.
And yet since first capturing the public eye as a freshman at Florida, it seems Tim Tebow may have made his first PR misstep with enough potential to irreparably stain his legacy.
Gregg Doyel set up the scenario in his latest column for CBSSports.com:
“Tim Tebow is about to make the biggest mistake of his life.
Tebow has agreed to speak at a hateful Baptist preacher’s church, an evangelical cretin named Robert Jeffress who does the work of the Lord sort of like Westboro Baptist in Topeka, Kan., does the work of the Lord.”
The church in question is the First Baptist Church of Dallas, where Tebow is scheduled to speak April 28 as part of a celebration of the church’s expansion.
Many find his on-the-field sermons repulsive; many find them more than tolerable. Regardless of how people feel about Tebow, they are all paying attention; whether to judge or adhere to him.
And now he’s being asked to “share his story” at this church led by a man of questionable character, which Doyel believes will disband Tebow’s massive flock of followers, should he actually go through with the engagement.
“I’ve got a lot of Tebow fans that follow me, because I’ve been a Tebow fan unabashedly for two years, ever since that whole Denver thing,” Doyel told 106.7 The Fan’s Holden and Danny. “Those people are telling me – and this doesn’t happen to me; people don’t agree with me often – but they’re agreeing with this one. If Tebow really is speaking to this guy for a reason, and the reason is that he supports this Robert Jeffress clown, that ‘I’m done with Tebow.’ And I’m hearing that from a lot of people.”
“He’s going to go from being a guy that had pretty much most of the world loving him to having a decent number of people that don’t,” Doyle continued.
Before everyone casts aspersions, let’s consider some other outcomes that would be less career-threatening to Tebow. For instance, it is possible that he just couldn’t have realized how poorly people would receive this news.
“Manti Te’o is so naive that I really believe he had no idea what was going on. That’s not what I really thought at first, but as time went on and the hoax story unraveled more and more, it was pretty apparent that Manti Te’o really is that naive. If Tim Tebow really is that naive, I’m more than willing to concede that he has no idea how he’s losing people by siding himself with this guy,” Doyel said. “He does live in his Christian cocoon. It’s like going to any message board anywhere. If you’re a Gonzaga fan or a Missouri fan or whatever and you find a message board devoted to your people, and that’s all you ever see on the internet, you kind of conform to thinking that it’s normal that people think some Gonzaga conspiracy that no one else would think makes sense. If that’s all you read, that’s what you know. And so yea, I can believe that Tebow has no idea that people are horrified by Robert Jeffress.”
One line of thinking that would rule that out, is the possibility of Tebow visiting the church with the intention of changing their irrational beliefs, which Doyel believes is a long shot.
“The other thing that we don’t know about is that Tebow maybe is going to go there and show another side of Christianity to the entire flock and maybe even to this guy Robert Jeffress himself,” Doyel said. “That is a Hail Mary of a theory. That’s not what’s going on. I mean I could be wrong. We’ll see. There’s nothing about Tebow’s public persona that says he’s going to go and tell anybody what they think is wrong. So he’s going to go there as a show of support. That’s what he’s doing, and he’s losing a lot of people in the process.”
There’s certainly a lot to consider and plenty of time to let the situation sort itself out. But for the time being, Tebow is on watch.