“Christianity of the sort that Tebow preaches is the reason people like Collins have such a hard time coming out. Tebow hasn’t said anything disparaging about Collins, but evangelical Christians have no doubt acted like they’re being oppressed by the “gay agenda” while at the same time being the oppressors.” – Hemant Mehta
Recently, NBA free agent center, Jason Collins announced he is gay. Collins because the first openly gay athlete in the four major sports in the United States. The gay community heralded him as an inspiration and a hero. While I was looking up news on his coming out, I came across a woman’s tweet that said it was a sad day when people were heralding Jason Collins as a hero for his openness about his homosexuality and a football player that is outspoken on his Christian faith can’t find a job in the NFL. At that time, Tim Tebow had been released by the New York Jets. It was recently announced that Tim Tebow will become a quarterback for the New England Patriots.
Tim Tebow was brought to national prominence after leading the Florida Gators to two BCS National Championships in 2006 and 2008 and winning the Heisman Trophy in 2007. He was drafted in the first round of the NFL Draft by the Denver Broncos in 2010. He has been known for his conservative views on faith before he came on the national stage. Tim Tebow is probably most famous for writing Bible verses on his black eye strips during his college years. He actually inspired the NCAA to ban such a practice. The new rule was dubbed the “Tebow Rule.”He and his mom were spotlighted in a Focus on the Family anti-abortion commercial that was ran during the 2010 Super Bowl. Focus on the Family is run by James Dobson, one of the most prominent anti-gay figures and a leader in the ex-gay movement.
Tebow is known for touring the country, going to churches and sharing his religious testimony. I don’t hold Tebow’s passion for his faith against him and I actually commend him for standing up for what he believes in. It seems as though some Christians are trying to use Tim Tebow as a martyr for their perceived inequalities about Christianity. As pointed out in the tweet by a woman I mentioned above, and the political cartoon I posted earlier, people are claiming Tebow is being discriminated against by the NFL while everyone is embracing Jason Collins. They ignore the fact that ignorance and intolerance about homosexuality are widespread throughout sports.
So, is Tim Tebow really being discriminated against because of his outspokenness about his faith, or is he just not that great of a quarterback? I have to believe its the latter. There is more evidence to support that Tebow is a subpar quarterback that underperforms in the NFL. Former NFL quarterback, Kurt Warner led the St. Louis Rams to a Super Bowl championship in 2000 and a Super Bowl appearance for the Rams the following year in 2001 and as the quarterback of the Arizona Cardinals in 2006. I lived in St. Louis during the Ram’s heydays and it was a very well known fact that Kurt Warner was a very religious individual. He was outspoken about his faith and was often seen in Christian commercials. His religiousness never held him back from being a player on a team.
There is actually more proof arguing that people that support gay rights are being discriminated against in the NFL. Brendon Ayanbadejo, former linebacker for the Baltimore Ravens become a national icon for marriage equality during the 2012 NFL season. He is not gay, but a straight ally that used his team’s appearance in the Super Bowl to bring attention to marriage equality. A couple months ago, the Ravens released him. They stated it was not because he was outspoken about his support for gay rights, but one could argue that it is a reason. The Baltimore Ravens had actually pressured him to pipe down about his outspokenness about equality while he was a member of the team. Former kicker for the Minnesota Vikings, Chris Kluwe was also recently released by his team after he spoke up in support for marriage equality. The Vikings deny that’s the reason he was released from the team. Two weeks later, Kluwe signed with the Oakland Raiders. Both Ayanbadejo and Kluwe jointly wrote an amicus brief to the Supreme Court supporting marriage equality. I want to be clear in stating that I am not arguing these are the reasons Brendon and Chris were released by their teams, but it is important to point out for the purpose of this entry.
We know the culture within sports is tense between homosexuality and athletes. Many athletes speak against homosexuality on the air and have negative attitudes about having a gay teammate. Others are open and supportive to the idea of homosexuality in sports. The most damning evidence against the argument that Tim Tebow is the fact that he really is not that great of an NFL quarterback. He thrived in college, because the Gators were built around his type of offense and it was easier for him to run the ball in college than in the NFL. Most NFL teams are not going to build an offense around him. They would have a difficult time signing wide receivers, because they’d know they wouldn’t get to see the ball as often as other teams. Tebow’s stats in the NFL are subpar and not in line with some of the more commanding quarterbacks that teams want.
I find it rather ironic that those who tell gay people to keep their sexuality to his or her self, are now attempting to cry foul and say the media and LGBT community are telling Tim Tebow to keep his faith to himself. Hemant Mehta summarizes it best in the quote I posted above. The fact of the matter is that Tebow wasn’t being shunned by football teams because of his faith, but because he isn’t a strong quarterback. Athletic statistics don’t lie. With the help of Tom Brady and the Patriots staff, Tebow may be able to become a talented NFL QB. Maybe they can train him to play in another position where he will succeed. Time will tell if he will become a better player in the NFL, but his Christianity has nothing to do with how he performs in the NFL. It is ignorant to believe it does.
**The NHL and many other sports teams and athletes have teamed up with the “You Can Play Project,” which is an organization to bring awareness to ignorance about homosexuality in sports. It’s a phenomenal organization and if you haven’t already, I suggest you check them out!**