Tebow vs. Tebow™: Because 5 months without a Tebow post is too long, dammit!
It appears that Tim Tebow and his legal team are about to file a lawsuit against Cubby Tees, a tee shirt manufacturer. Cubby Tees, in an obvious attempt to cash in on the buzz surrounding Tebow’s move to the NY Jets, is marketing a new shirt that toys with the Jets’ logo. Instead of saying NY Jets it says My Jesus, and the simple football graphic has been replaced with the ubiquitous Christian Ichthyis. The shirt does not mention Tebow by name, nor does it sport his number. Were you not to know who Tebow was, there is no way to connect him to the shirt. And yet the connection is undeniable.
Oy. I’ve never quite been able to figure out what I think about Tim Tebow. This is because in my head, there are actually two Tebows.
There is Tim Tebow, the famously devout football player from Florida that plays quarterback a la Knute Rockne. I find myself liking this Tim Tebow. He reminds me of other sports favorites of mine, like Derek Fisher, Steve Largent or Oral Hershiser – those people that lacked the natural gifts and skills of those they competed against and thus should have been quick washouts, and yet always found a way to win. These kind of athletes have a special place in my heart, a sports fan who has never himself been in any way athletically inclined. I saw this Tim Tebow a lot last year as he led the Broncos deep and inexplicably into the playoffs and found myself rooting for him.
But there’s also Tim Tebow™, the cynically marketed, pre-packaged product. It was always hard for me to believe that the “anti-Tebow” brouhaha was in no small part manufactured by Tebow’s™ publicists, looking to find a way to cash in on a graduating college quarterback that seemed to have little long-term NFL value. It seemed improbable that he would be anything other than the next Brian Bosworth, so Tebow’s™ marketing team set out to cash in on a Christian martyr while they could.
For myself, I never feel like I have a handle on where Tim Tebow ends and where Tim Tebow™ begins. “Tebowing,” the act of getting down on one knee to do a 3 second prayer after a touchdown, has always seemed a bit too posed and statuesque to have not been a pre-calculated marketing effort. It’s just looks a little too much like a Michael Bay shot. Tebow’s™ pose is a little too Male Model and not enough Penitent Pilgrim. The boy in me wants to believe in Tebow; the cynical adult can’t stop catching glimpses of Tebow™.
This tee shirt controversy doesn’t help the little kid in me. Yeah, Cubby Tees is trying to cash in on Tebow. But to sue them because the use of “Jesus” in connection to football is Tebow’s alone? If anything, it strengthens my picture that Tebow™ is still largely a product of modern marketing, whose manifest destiny lucked into being given a defense and offensive line that deserves the credit his agents and publicists insist belong to Tebow™ and Jesus alone. It makes me want to root against him. And that’s the shame of it all, because even in that the string-pullers of Tim Tebow™ win.