Timing, delivery of Tim Tebow's message in Super Bowl ad seem to be off

Now that the time is near, I wish Tim Tebow had not agreed to appear in a commercial during the Super Bowl.

And not because his views and yours might be different.

I like Tebow. I don't pretend to know him well, and I can't swear that his heart is pure, but from everything I've seen and heard about him during the past four years, he appears to be a genuinely kind and decent person.

He has been an excellent student at the University of Florida and a wonderful citizen of the world. He has donated his time to missions in impoverished countries, he has spoken at prisons and he has opened his heart to countless children in need.

He is an interesting, dedicated and passionate person and, for all of those reasons and more, I'm actually curious about his opinions on certain social issues.

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And, yet, I wish Tebow had not chosen this particular time to get his message across.

And not because the Super Bowl is some blessed event.

Come on, this is a game. Maybe it's the year's biggest game. And maybe the most lucrative. But it's not so important that the world's troubles disappear for the three hours that two football teams are on a field.

Those who oppose Tebow's message have tried to make the Super Bowl sound as if it were a time of national reconciliation. As if our thoughts are all pure, and our arms are all open.

The reality is this game is driven by money. For players, owners, networks and casinos. If it turns out to be an enjoyable afternoon of entertainment, that's a huge bonus. Either way, it's still making money.

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Even so, I wish Tebow had not made the decision to be a spokesman in this way.

And not because Focus on the Family is reportedly paying $2 million to get this commercial on the air.

I've always thought Tebow has struck a pretty nice balance when it came to his celebrity and his Christian beliefs. When asked, he has spoken passionately about his faith. Otherwise, the 22-year-old quarterback has stayed fairly close to the football script.

If he wants to align himself with a rather dogmatic organization such as Focus on the Family, that is his right. Just so long as he understands that intolerance, even when wrapped in religion, is still intolerance.

Knowing how careful Tebow is with his image, I would hope he put a lot of thought into this decision. And if he feels these people best represent his views in society, then he can be comfortable with his choice.

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But I still wish Tebow had not opted for a 30-second paid commercial.

And not because CBS is seemingly tweaking its policy on advocacy ads.

This is the issue seized upon by most pro-choice groups in the controversy. CBS has, in the past, rejected advocacy ads, but now the network says its views are evolving. Whether CBS's evolution extends to more progressive advocacy groups in the future will be an interesting story to follow.

Still, I have a difficult time getting worked up over a network's decision to air any commercial. If it offends you, then turn the channel. Put it on mute. Go to the bathroom. It's not like Tebow and his mother, Pam, will be sitting in the booth with Jim Nantz and Phil Simms during the three-hour broadcast.

If a single commercial ruins a football game for you, then you're wound a wee bit tight. And if you're worried about the commercial's impact on the children in your home, then I would have to question how a 30-second commercial could change the upbringing you have had years to establish.

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So this is why I wish Tebow had not agreed to this forum for his first foray into social issues.

Because this debate is far too important to be reduced to a 30-second sound bite.

And by choosing that format on the most-watched television event of the year, Tebow's message has changed. It has gone from a family's sincere beliefs to a cause's calculating message. Maybe that was not their intent, but they had to know their decision was going to be controversial from the moment word got out.

And Focus on the Family was going to make sure the word got out.

I might disagree with the Tebows, and still listen to their views. I can enjoy the Super Bowl, and not get worked up over a commercial. I can question CBS's motives, and still manage to watch David Letterman most nights. None of that bothers me.

What I do dislike is critical issues being reduced to shouts and accusations.

And, unfortunately, I think that's what Tebow's commercial will ultimately accomplish.

John Romano can be reached at (727) 893-8811.

Timing, delivery of Tim Tebow's message in Super Bowl ad seem to be off 01/28/10 [Last modified: Thursday, January 28, 2010 10:14pm]

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