The NFL is generously stocked with forgiven felons, including millionaire wife beaters and dog killers. So how did a clean-living quarterback with deep commitments to charitable service and miraculous last-minute victories become the most controversial player in the league?
It’s easy to see why legions of loyalists lavish love on 24-year-old Tim Tebow, who leads his underdog Denver Broncos in a crucial playoff game against the New England Patriots on Saturday night. Yet other fiercely focused fans feel no hesitation at expressing their contempt and loathing for a remarkable athlete whose behavior on field and off exemplifies the values of hard work, fearlessness and concern for the downtrodden.
A popular website called TebowHaters.com serves as a clearinghouse for denunciations, while Jeff Darlington of NFL.com got a big response for a survey on what offended fans most about the Broncos quarterback. An Orlando, Fla., radio station (WJRR) used crude language promoting a public campaign to terminate Mr. Tebow’s well-advertised virginity and to break his pledge to save himself for marriage. Bill Maher, acerbic tribune of “Real Time” on HBO, got into the holiday spirit last month by celebrating a Denver loss and tweeting: “Wow. Jesus just f—- #TimTebow bad! And on Xmas Eve!” Novelist and blogger Drew Magary proudly declares on the sports website Deadspin.com: “Not only is it OK to root against Tim Tebow, it’s practically your duty as cynical Americans.”