Rep. Steve King: "Why Won't Obama Call Tim Tebow?"

Of the legions of unemployed in the United States, the most famous may be a person best described as, "Tim Tebow: Full Time Icon/Part-Time Quarterback." After being released from the New York Jets last week, the man who was the toast of the NFL just one year ago cannot find a team willing to sign him. Even the Canadian Football League, long the refuge for quarterbacks cast out of Babylon, doesn’t want any part of "Tebowmania."

We know that Tim Tebow isn’t very good at the whole throwing thing—always a drawback for a quarterback—but he has shown tremendous ability as an athlete and a divine flair for leading dramatic comebacks in the fourth quarter. He also would be an upgrade from several quarterbacks currently littering NFL rosters. There have simply never been so many bad quarterbacks leading NFL teams, yet Tebow’s phone isn’t ringing.

His inability to get signed, as Yahoo! Sports columnist Mike Silver laid out very persuasively, owes less to his abilities under center than all the frenzy that surrounds him. Tim Tebow is a neon distraction in a league that prefers the equivalent of men in gray flannel suits. If Tom Brady is the Don Draper of quarterbacks, then Tim Tebow is Megan Draper, flashing some skin and singing French pop songs, equal parts transfixing and excruciating. In other words, even if many an NFL owner shares Tim Tebow’s politics, they don't share is his need for attention. Our pro football bosses like doing their political business in shadows, and Tim Tebow has become a living, breathing avatar for those fighting the Gary Bauer/Focus on the Family culture war like it’s still 1992.

Tebow is the only NFL player who can be described as having a base: a group of rabid fans who love him independently of his play and extol his greatness on the basis of his religiosity, his support for Focus on the Family or his wholesome whiteness. His base extends the tentacles of the culture war into any locker room he inhabits, turning any team he's on into catnip for media fiends to follow his every move, which only further alienates his teammates. The most powerful critique of Tebow, in my humble view, is that he has resisted any effort to disavow either his base or media attention, seemingly welcoming the distraction and even trying to leverage it to leapfrog toward more playing time. Your typical control-freak NFL head coach would rather have a player with a communicable plague than a player—especially a quarterback—who welcomed this kind of constant distraction.

That's what made Monday's speech by congressional Neanderthal Representative Steve King all the more tragic for the future career prospects of Mr. Tebow. In the well of the House of Representatives, where John Quincy Adams risked arrest and assassination by inveighing against slavery, King decided to talk about his favorite subject, “the gays.” (Dan Savage doesn’t dwell on the “LGBT lifestyle” as much as Steve King.) Normally whenever the Iowa congressman speaks, you roll your eyes, check your phone and, just in case, put the Southern Poverty Law Center on speed dial. But in this case, he invoked the name of Tim Tebow as a contrast to the athlete he sees is “undermining Western Civilization”: Jason Collins. Collins, of course, just became the first active, male, North American athlete to come out of the closet.

As King said, "We've got Tim Tebow who will kneel and pray to God on the football field. Meanwhile we have a professional athlete that decides he’s going to announce his sexuality and he gets a personal call from the United States to highlight the sexuality of a professional ballplayer. These are ways that the culture gets undermined, where it gets divided. The people over on this side take their followership from that kind of leadership. One notch at a time, American civilization, American culture, western civilization, western Judeo-Christiandom are eroded."

First of all, “followership” is not a word. Second, moments like this are precisely why Tim can't find work, and it's a shame. As long as he's not on my team, I actually like Tim Tebow. In the “No Fun League,” the one thing you would never accuse Tim Tebow of being would be boring. But while NFL owners might financially support the Steve Kings of this world, people like him are seen as strangely gauche: the relative you keep locked in the attic when company arrives. Tim Tebow, if he so desired, could disavow Representative Steve King, the same way he cancelled a speaking engagement at a new $130 million Dallas mega church after finding out its pastor, Dr. Robert Jeffress, believed Jews, Muslims and gay people were going to hell (it's worth noting that Tebow did not condemn these comments and according to Jeffress, has plans to reschedule). But at this point, the former Heisman trophy winner may have better future prospects as a speaker on the evangelical gravy train than as a quarterback, and if there is one thing we know about Tebow Inc., it knows where their bread is buttered. I fear, however, it will soon learn that the true Sunday mega church in the USA is an NFL stadium. Without a team, Tim Tebow in time may find himself, without a flock.

4 Reader Comments | Add a comment

Yes, Tebow's Religion Is Not The Issue

I mean has this Rep. King clown ever watched the end of an NFL, where it is customary for a group of players to form a prayer circle? No player is being retaliated against for having open Christian religious beliefs. So, yes, not only is the fact the Tebum can't throw not helping him, but the ridiculous sideshow circus that accompanies having him on your roster isn't worth the distraction.

Collins Confusion?

Love your articles DZ but another commenter pointed out on another article (see link below) that Collins is not the first active, male, North American athlete to come out of the closet. So why keep perpetuating it? It seems Collins is the first gay athlete that the media will report about. Interested to hear your thoughts.

http://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2013/05/actually-jason-collins-isnt-the-first-openly-gay-man-in-a-major-pro-sport/275523/

Gay Rights are Part of a Massive Fraud

I seem to be the only person in America wondering why at the very same time that fascism is tightening its death grip on America -- from the consolidation of the media, to imperialist wars, to increasing the powers of the police state, to the total dominance over society by a tiny gaggle of super-rich elites -- that gay people are making such wonderful gains on almost a daily basis.

Obama has been the most far-right-wing president we've ever had. He inflicted upon us all a far-right-wing health-care plan first imagined by Newt Gingrich and The Heritage Foundation back in the early 90s that forces working people to purchase crappy, overpriced, health insurance from the same hated capitalist corporations who have been raping the crap out of us all for the past 35 years. We continue to wage imperialist wars in the Middle East. We have drones killing people on the president's whim. We have whistleblowers being locked away in prison to protect criminal banksters and corrupt government officials. We have massive, multi-trillion dollar bailouts for criminal financial elites and austerity, joblessness and slashed wages for everybody else. The media speaks with one voice on major issues from war, to 9/11, to how great it was for the police-state to lay siege to Boston. Obama is offering up Medicare and Social Security for attack while low taxes for the super-rich and corporations have become sacrosanct. And yet in the midst of all this far-right-wing fascism, gay people are doing better than ever before. What are we to make of that?

The new-found love that all of ruling-class America now has for gay people is part of the fraud being perpetrated by the ruling class upon us all. Obama, the first black president, a man promising us hope and change, is the leading feature of that fraud. The U.S. ruling class will give us all of the black presidents we want along with lots of love and respect for gay people. After all, that costs them nothing. All the ruling class asks for in return is for unlimited imperialist wars, increased police-state repression at home, trillions in bankster bailouts, attacks on workers jobs, wages and social programs and low, low taxes for rich capitalists and their corporations.

Response to message from Trevor

Amen Trevor!!!! Very well said and you hit the nail on the head!!!

4 Reader Comments | Add a comment

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Dave Zirin is the author of the book: "Welcome to the Terrordome: The Pain, Politics and Promise of Sports" (Haymarket). You can receive his column Edge of Sports, every week by going to dave@edgeofsports.com.
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