T-T-T-Tebow and the Jets

Last fall, as my indoor volleyball team was getting clobbered during a particularly grueling match (as a tall girl I am required by law to play either this sport or basketball), we noticed that the opposing team kept converging in a circle in the middle of the court after big plays, kneeling on one knee, propping up an elbow, and resting their foreheads on their fists. Over and over again. While one of them took pictures. None of us knew what to make of the situation and figured the team had hit up a happy hour beforehand.

Photo by Clemed

The following day, a fellow teammate sent around a link to a story on Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow by way of explanation, and “Tebowing” officially entered my vernacular.

Now, the New York Jets have signed Mr. Tebow as their backup quarterback in a trade with Denver (following the Broncos’ much-hyped acquisition of Peyton Manning), and as a resident New Yorker, I have found Tebow-mania creeping into my consciousness once again—something that doesn’t happen all that often with football.

As Tebow makes his way east from Colorado, many have wondered aloud how the openly devout Christian will mesh with the more jaded, less religious, and rather vice-heavy city of New York. Not surprisingly, this question is also crossing the minds of marketers who are looking to cash in on Tebow’s rising star.

“Tim Tebow can be the king,” said Ronn Torossian, CEO and president of 5W Public Relations, in an interview with the Daily News. “There is no bigger place to shine than in New York City and I think the Tebow brand is one that transcends sports. I think the guy can get unlimited sponsorships in New York City.”

The Daily News reports that this sentiment is naturally echoed by executives working for the brands Tebow is already signed with, like Nike, Jockey (check out their new Lincoln Tunnel billboard featuring Tebow), and EA Sports. These endorsements are worth a cool $1 to $2 million a year, but they are still a far cry from the $10 million and $15 million in deals nabbed by the likes of Tom Brady and Peyton Manning on an annual basis.

And yet, while some marketers predicted Tebow could reach the $10 million mark himself with his awe-inspiring winning streak last season, others noted that the quarterback’s evangelical views could be an obstacle. For example, in Tebow’s most notable endorsement to date, he appeared with his mother in an anti-abortion ad by Focus on the Family during last year’s Super Bowl :

Kevin Adler, founder and president of Engage Marketing, admitted to AdAge that while Tebow’s religious convictions wouldn’t immediately eliminate him as a choice for endorsement deals, they would give him pause.

“I have a brand right now that we are talking about putting a face on a campaign, and there are strategic reasons why a quarterback would make sense,” he told the publication back in January. “But when we talk about Tebow, it doesn’t make us cross him off the list but we sure do have a little more conversation about it.”

Steve Herz, president and founder of IF Management, a broadcasting and marketing representation firm specializing in sports and media personalities, also sees potential hang-ups with Tebow’s devout Christianity, particularly in the Big Apple.

“He will have a hard time being accepted for his outward religiosity,” Herz told the Daily News. “New Yorkers don’t wear their religion on their sleeves like they do in parts of Colorado.”

Photo by Clemed

Still, there is something about Tim Tebow that strikes a chord with believers and non-believers alike. And while not everyone attributes his meteoric rise to a divine influence, many are still moved by the power of his faith, whether or not they share it. They are drawn in by his humbleness, his unadulterated enthusiasm (he apparently said the word “excited” 45 times at his press conference yesterday), and his ability, by all accounts, to truly practice what he preaches—especially in an environment that isn’t exactly conducive to avoiding the temptations of sin.

In other words, as Huffington Post contributor and NFL writer Barbara Bruno so eloquently noted, “Tim Tebow is the human embodiment of home, hearth, and apple pie.”

And in a world where football players have a tendency to shoot themselves in the leg, participate in dog-fighting rings, and find themselves embroiled in sexual assault scandals, apple pie isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

“As a marketer, you want somebody like that,” Darin David, account director at The Marketing Arm, told AdAge. “He doesn’t have the same kind of negative backlash as other players.”

Of course, if he brings victory to his new team, some of these questions will inevitably become far less important.

“New York Jets fans won’t care if he believes in Hare Krishna if he wins,” Herz quipped.

Well, Mr. Tebow, they say if you can make it here, you can make it anywhere. Godspeed, sir.

7 thoughts on “T-T-T-Tebow and the Jets

  1. In my opinion, the media tries to portray certain celebrities in the wrong way or affiliate them with certain attacks or stories that are far from the truth. The media needs oh my gosh moments to have us spectators and readers being intrigue to pick up the latest issue of US Weekly and read a bunch of nonsense that us as readers have to depict what’s the truth, what’s being far fetched. It can lead to having negative affects on that celebrity and their exposure in the spotlight. The media needs to take a step back, and portray those in the spotlight with full truth.

  2. See this is where fans and people need to stay out of athletes and celebrities lives. First does it matter what the man believes in? He is not stealing, shooting or doing drugs (see Ryan Leaf). In no way does the have a negative influence on kids and young teens today. he believes in god and thinks god has had alot to do with his success is that wrong…yes or no who cares what anyones else opinion is in the end. The media is attacking this becasue they know its gets people to talk….This in some ways is like an athlete thanking his family or wife and kids on national TV for their support through the season after the super bowl but the media doesnt attack that why not? The only issue here really is that it has to do with religion, is in public, and people love to hate Tebow. I agree with Daniel above the media needs to step back look at all the thigns the man does for the community and people around him and stop focusing on his beliefs. Next time Big Ben or Ray Lewis do something good lets see how the media reacts its like they are a saint because they know people wont talk about Big Ben and his sex assults that much or Ray Lewis and his issues

  3. Thanks for your comments, Daniel and Tom. I agree with you that the media certainly plays a role in blowing up religious “controversies” that may or may not unfold as Tim Tebow grows into his new role as a New York Jet. And yes, a huge part of that is because speculating if Tebow will be caught stumbling out of an NYC strip club at 3am, for example, is far juicier than talking about his charitable works. Religion, especially in a place like New York where people don’t often “wear their religion on their sleeves,” can be a very divisive topic. Seeing someone so publicly practice his or her religion makes some folks uncomfortable, especially if they interpret it as being “forced down their throats,” whether or not that is the best description of what’s happening. I do believe that Tebowing is a far cry from the guy who yells at me that I’m going to Hell in a subway sermon during my morning commute, but Tebowing is also different than appearing in a Super Bowl ad against abortion. So sometimes, the waters can get a little murky. While the media often fans flames to sell more papers, I can understand why, from a marketing perspective, there are perhaps lengthier conversations that take place about Tebow when deciding whether or not to use him as a spokesperson. In fact, I think the conversations would be even lengthier if Tebow wasn’t so gosh darn likeable. There are plenty of folks out there who don’t agree with his religious views, and maybe even find some of his practices annoying, but they respect him for, by all accounts, leading a life that reflects what he preaches. He’s humble. He’s generous. He’s a virgin. It will be very interesting to see what happens with Tebow next season (and during the months in between). And given the industry he’s in, much of tide will certainly depend on how he and his team are performing.

  4. Tebow in the Jets!!!! are we ready for this. Considering his game on the field it is very impressing to see a young individual do some much for his fellow team mates ofcourse while keeping godd faith. I believe he is good at what he does and this hypocratic view of this person should be overlooked. He wins games in the most interesting ways whether it is him or the team it is straight winning streaks. I feel he will do good in the Jets team. Will it change his game?

  5. I think people should be allowed to practice their faith, besides our constitution does not bar that, it’s his belief and it works for him, let him be … I’m much concern about being assistant quarter back, it looks like not a bright idea.

  6. The only problem i have (or rather see) with Teabow is that he pushes his religion on others and i dont think its ok. I know its freedom of speech and all that but still its not right to have that “My faith is right, yours is not ” approch.
    He needs to work on his game instead of preaching thats my oppinoin.

  7. New York is the #1 media market in country and Denver is a way smaller market. If Tebow Mania was going on in Denver just imagine how the media is going to portray him once the season starts in New York? Its either going to make him or break him for the rest of his career. Remember Jeremy Lin on the Knicks? He took the world by storm in the matter of weeks, now a few months later he is forgotten. New York is only going to give him more slack for practicing his faith the way he does.

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