Tim Tebow has a Heisman Trophy in his possession, is a worldwide philanthropic enthusiast, has made a career out of defying the odds and was a two-time national champion at Florida.
Yet, he can't win.
After planning to speak at a Baptist megachurch in Dallas alongside the controversial Reverend Robert Jeffress, Tebow canceled his appearance, only to have Jeffress say the quarterback was "wimping out."
Though Jeffress never directly mentions Tebow in his sermon to the First Baptist Church in Dallas on Feb. 24, he's clearly taking a shot at Tebow when he says (h/t Chris Strauss, USA Today):
I am grateful for men of God like these who are willing to stand up and act like men rather than wimping out when it gets a little controversial and an inconvenient thing to stand for the truth. God bless men like that.
Tebow tweeted out his reasoning behind backing out of his speaking engagement, which was set for April 28.
Tim Tebow @TimTebow
While I was looking forward to sharing a message of hope and Christ's unconditional love with the faithful members of the historic...2/21/2013, 3:08:10 PM
Tim Tebow @TimTebow
... First Baptist Church of Dallas in April, due to new information that has been brought to my attention, I have decided to cancel my...2/21/2013, 3:08:34 PM
Tim Tebow @TimTebow
...upcoming appearance. I will continue to use the platform God has blessed me with to bring Faith, Hope and Love to all those...2/21/2013, 3:09:03 PM
Tim Tebow @TimTebow
...needing a brighter day. Thank you for all of your love and support. God Bless!2/21/2013, 3:09:19 PM
Maybe Tebow is finally understanding that although he has a natural desire to preach his faith, doing so probably isn't the greatest idea due to how he'll be viewed by society.
People want him to be reserved, and they certainly don't want him discussing his views alongside such a controversial figure as Jeffress.
Then again, if he's forthright and picks a side, he's bound to be condemned.
Tebow, a wide-smiled kid born in the Philippines, raised in Florida, who has seemingly dedicated his life to doing everything the right way, has unjustly become the most polarizing football player on Earth.
Heck, he might be the most polarizing figure in all of sports.
We shouldn't fault Tebow for staunchly standing by his beliefs, putting his head down and working diligently in pursuit of his goals—in other words, chasing the American dream.
But we do.
Tebow's inherent and undying passion to succeed in every phase of life—something mankind could use more of—has ultimately led to many people disliking him.
Remember his famous and now memorialized speech after his heavily favored Florida Gators lost at home to Ole Miss in 2008?
After that, Tebow led his team to 10 straight wins and a national title victory over eventual No. 1 overall pick Sam Bradford and the Oklahoma Sooners.
Although that pledge and subsequent triumph were integral to regions of Florida earning "TebowLand" monikers, it's precisely what began the vehement hatred toward him.
When he lost to Alabama in his senior season in the SEC title game, cameras caught Tebow crying on the sideline. It made him an easy target. There's just something about intense passion that scares people and prompts them to poke fun.
But at the same time, his teary episode endeared him to Florida fans even more.
Tebow went on to win resoundingly in the Sugar Bowl, and a documentary was filmed about his pre-draft process. Because he was such a tremendous story, a highly touted prep star who accomplished so much in the SEC with unorthodox quarterback skills and candid religious beliefs, the media latched onto him.
As a result, his NFL hype machine was born.
Most didn't like it, although Tebow never asked for the vast publicity.
To his naysayers, he was a gimmicky signal-caller with an elongated delivery who'd never be a first-round pick and certainly wouldn't succeed as a professional.
Then, the Denver Broncos took him No. 25 overall in the 2010 draft. Not shockingly, ESPN was there to cover the Tebow family's reaction.
Stores couldn't stock their shelves fast enough with his No. 15 Broncos jersey—all for a guy who'd start his career as a backup—which produced more hatred and jealousy.
After spending essentially his entire rookie year on the bench, Tebow became a hot-button topic during the Super Bowl when he and his mother starred in a commercial that supposedly had pro-life motives.
Harmless, right? Not to pro-choice advocates.
Tebow said this regarding the commercial (h/t CBS Sports):
I know some people won't agree with it, but I think they can at least respect that I stand up for what I believe. I've always been very convicted of it (his views on abortion) because that's the reason I'm here, because my mom was a very courageous woman. So any way that I could help, I would do it.
If history has taught us anything about the way people are received by the masses, it's that taking an unwavering stance on a particular topic doesn't help in the court of public opinion.
Sure, those who agree will follow with unprecedented emotion, because a more courageous, well-known figure has echoed their sentiments. But the opposing side will badger and bash and belittle relentlessly.
That is how it's always been, and Tebow hasn't been treated differently.
Some admire how he often references God in press conferences; others despise it. Why?
It is no longer "cool" to be religious, duh. It is also not cool to save yourself for marriage, something Tebow admitted about himself during SEC media day in college.
Parodies about Tebow's proclaimed virginity started then—and haven't stopped.
If he were Rob Gronkowski, he would get killed by the media and the religious traditionalists alike.
When Tebow finally got a legitimate shot in the NFL, he took the city of Denver on a magical (some would say divine) journey from 1-4 to the playoffs with the help of fortuitous bounces, stingy defense and the golden leg of kicker Matt Prater.
"Tebowing," an homage to his religious beliefs, became a national phenomenon.
Then, the Pittsburgh Steelers, a team with arguably the most widespread collection of fans in America, stood in the Broncos' way at the start of the postseason. Denver stayed with Pittsburgh and took the game to overtime.
On the first play in the extra session, Tebow threw a strike to Demaryius Thomas, who broke a tackle and rumbled down the sideline for the game-winning touchdown.
After the Broncos were bounced by the New England Patriots in the next round, John Elway, the Broncos VP of Football Operations, put Tebow on the trade block as if the 2011 season didn't happen. Or that it wasn't, thanks to Tebow, at least.
He was dealt to the New York Jets, and the media foamed at its collective mouth.
His welcoming press conference was televised, and the affable Tebow showed his enthusiasm by saying "excited" 45 times, which may be the most unbreakable record in sports.
Once again, though, he was heavily criticized.
Sitting behind one of the worst quarterbacks in the league in Mark Sanchez, Tebow was never given an opportunity to lead the abysmal Jets, which made his critics smile.
Some of his teammates told the media, "We don't see him as a quarterback"—anonymously, of course.
Now, Tebow sits idly on the Jets' rebuilding roster.
But Tebow's legacy will eventually be more than his accomplishments or lack thereof at the NFL level. It will be that the nice guy with strong convictions—especially religious—will never be able to appease everyone.
Honestly, though, I'd rather have more Tim Tebows in the world than uninspiring, close-minded milquetoasts, wouldn't you?
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