Why Tim Tebow might not be as perfect as he seems

Tim Tebow is famous for his football and his faith, but some people think he's sub-par at both. The guy signs Bibles like he was the author, after all, and his on-field evangelical antics come off as a hypocritical sideshow to plenty of his fellow Christians. Yes, it's notoriously easy to kick Tebow and his short-lived NFL career around — almost too easy. Which actually sounds like just the right amount of easy to us, so let's get kicking.

He seems disproportionately concerned with looks

Tim Tebow is notoriously picky about potential girlfriends, to the point where some folks wonder if he's really looking for a boyfriend. He says it's because he is saving himself for marriage, a claim which infamous, cheaters-only dating site Ashley Madison attempted to, um, debunk, with no success. He's brought up what he wants out of a relationship in interviews with Vogue and Ellen Degeneres before, and it's actually pretty surprising. He brings up faith, of course, telling Ellen, "You have to have similar beliefs, you have to have chemistry, character." Fair enough.

However, the point that comes up first in both interviews is how important looks are, and his concerns about belief and character seem like an afterthought, which is at odds with his pious, humble image. "Obviously, looks play a big part," he told Vogue. When Ellen asked him what he's looking for in a partner, he said, "Obviously, someone that I'm extremely attracted to." Because what good is faith, obviously, without good looks, to quote the Bible. Wait — that book says the total opposite.

He criticized Colin Kaepernick for taking a knee

Like Tim Tebow, San Francisco 49ers QB Colin Kaepernick made headlines over his choice to repeatedly take a knee on camera in a high-profile way. But In Kaepernick's case, it was during the National Anthem, in order to protest police brutality and racial profiling. Tebow was asked to comment on the move, but at first declined, before adding a cryptic and unflattering jab at Kaepernick.

"I think that when people have belief in something or conviction about something, I think trying to stand for that is a good thing," he said. "And then it's all about standing for it the right way." He declined to elaborate on exactly what "the right way" was. Maybe he should have stuck to declining to comment in the first place?

His views about the LGBTQ community are mixed

Given Tebow's evangelical leanings, you could assume he doesn't 100% approve of, let alone support, the LGBTQ community. Evangelicals, after all, believe the Bible is the ultimate authority on these matters, and thus take Leviticus literally. But Tebow doesn't exactly toe the line.

In 2013, he made the surprising decision to turn down an appearance at the First Baptist Church in Dallas over the pastor's inflammatory anti-gay rhetoric, which led to a lot of criticism from the evangelical Christian community. He also made an appearance on Ellen, and took the time to visit a former high school teammate who had been wounded in the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando.

However, he has also appeared in commercials supporting the rabidly anti-LGBTQ group, Focus on the Family, and has had no reservations attending other events with homophobic speakers. He hasn't actually made any public statements one way or another about LGBTQ rights, either, which makes the whole thing even more confusing.

Teammates say his constant controversies wore them down

Tebow constantly being the center of attention during his short NFL career, and his constant courting of that attention, appeared to do more harm than good, at least according to some of his ex-colleagues.

"I've talked to many of the coaches involved, and one thing every coach wants is a lack of distraction so they can focus on their team," recalled Urban Meyer, who coached Tebow at Florida. "And when all of a sudden ESPN has live people watching practice and every time you wake up there's 'Tim Tebow this,' 'Tebow this, Tebow this,' and you're talking about a backup quarterback. And that did wear on people."

And it's not just a couple of bitter ex-teammates and coaches. Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll called him "a distraction." Hall of Fame quarterback Terry Bradshaw deemed Tebow's acquisition by the New York Jets "a mistake" that caused "chaos."

To make matters worse, Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News spoke with a dozen of Tebow's Jets teammates, who wished to remain anonymous, and none of them had nice things to say. One of them even said his acquisition was "nothing more than a gimmick." Maybe if Tebow had reined in the publicity a bit, the Jets wouldn't have been the last NFL team to actually let him play in a regular season game.

Teammates have suggested fan pressure got him places his skill couldn't

Speaking to GQ magazine in 2012, former Denver Broncos quarterback Brady Quinn gave some insight into Tebow's personality, as well as the cult of personality around him, and how it affected the trajectory of his career. He starts by throwing some icy cold shade: "If you look at it as a whole, there's a lot of things that just don't seem very humble to me. When I get that opportunity, I'll continue to lead not necessarily by trying to get in front of the camera and praying, but by praying with my teammates, y'know?" Ouch.

It's worth noting that Tebow was offered a starting quarterback gig by several teams, including ones in the Canadian Football League, as well as his hometown NFL team, the Jacksonville Jaguars. Mister Humble Religious Football Man, however, turned down these guaranteed positions for bigger teams and bigger spotlights to shine under.

Brady Quinn also told GQ that he believes Tebow's fans directly influenced coaching decisions, including choosing to play Tebow over him. "I believe the fans had a lot to do with that. Just 'cause they were chanting his name. There was a big calling for him. No, I didn't have any billboards. That would have been nice."

The latter comments weren't hyperbole. It was a reference to a campaign of billboards erected to pressure various coaches (Denver, New York, Jacksonville, Philadelphia) to put Tebow in the game (or in the case of Jacksonville, to get him on the team). His fans have also been known to set up massive online petition campaigns as well. We're starting to see Quinn's point.

He's replaced more competent players in the press due to popularity

In December of 2011, NFL magazine put Tim Tebow on their cover, which is itself uncontroversial. He was a rising star, and people wanted to know more about him. However, the cover spot was originally slated for Carolina Panthers Rookie Cam Newton, a much more solid player with a better record.

At the time, Tebow was only completing 45% of his passes and had only thrown 172 yards that season. More than we could do, true, but not exactly magazine cover material. Even then it was becoming obvious his fame was more due to spectacle, opportunism, and a willingness to make jerk-face publicity stunts than talent.

ESPN advised on-air talent, "You can't talk enough Tebow"

Former ESPN radio host Doug Gottleib, on his departure to join the team at CBS, dropped some juicy, behind-the-scenes tidbits about the Tebow phenomenon at its peak. And when we say "dropped" we mean it in the sense of the candy bar scene in Caddyshack.

He said that management specifically told him he had to mention Tim Tebow any chance he got, and the whole thing got so gimmicky, he would just insert Tebow commentary anywhere, uttering crazy asides, such as, "I gotta find 15 seconds to talk about Tebow here … alright, let's talk about Major League Baseball!" Strangely enough, that non-sequitur turned prophetic when Tebow pulled a Michael Jordan and joined the MLB in 2016.

GQ's "Sexy Jesus" photo spread was the beginning of the end

For his 25th birthday, Tebow did an interview and photoshoot with GQ magazine that quickly became one of his most controversial moves yet. One of the photos wound up pejoratively dubbed "Sexy Jesus," because of of Tebow's unusual shirtless pose. Legs crossed, arms outstretched, and head tilted dolefully to the side with a beatific expression, it does certainly seem like a reference to classic imagery of Jesus on the cross.

It, um, didn't exactly play well amongst Tebow's religious fanbase, who considered it unspeakably blasphemous. He signs Bibles, he poses as Jesus … not sure if there's a term for this level of grandiose posturing.

Tebow's move to baseball could be his most cynical

After a few years as an announcer for ESPN, Tebow decided he had a hankering to get back on the field. So he got back into a steady practice regimen, scouted for teams and wound up signing with … the New York Mets? Wait — what?

Despite being a game he hadn't regularly played since high school, Tebow signed a minor league contract with the Mets in the fall of 2016. This made some folks pretty upset, most notably folks that had made baseball their dream career, and worked their way up from the bottom, only to see Tebow just step right into the top.

It led to speculation over whether Tebow possibly had a book to promote or something, and … yep, it turns out he did. Were they connected? Nobody knows 100% for sure, but out of all the moves he made in his career, this one appears to be the most blatant cry for attention. But then again, Tebow did hit a home run in his first-ever professional at-bat, so maybe there's something to all that Tebowing, after all.

Or … maybe not. Since that home run, he's kinda been downright awful on the diamond, managing just one hit in his first ten 2017 Spring Training at-bats, and apparently only getting play because so many Mets were away for the World Baseball Classic. If he ever sees a regular season, major-league Mets game, it might well be because he bought a ticket.

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