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Is Tim Tebow the Next Anna Kournikova?

Is Tim Tebow the Next Anna Kournikova?

Is Tim Tebow the Next Anna Kournikova?

With football season coming to a close and no games until the Super Bowl Feb. 3rd, I decided to fill the void with a conversation about fame and football.  So let’s take a moment and discuss one of the most polarizing individuals in professional sports and the most famous third-string quarterback in NFL history.  Of course, I’m speaking of Tim Tebow.

After a storied college football career at the University of Florida (my alma mater), winning two national titles and a Heisman Trophy, Tim Tebow was controversially selected in the first round of the 2010 NFL Draft by the Denver Broncos.  Along with his football skills, Tebow brings an ardent following of fans that are drawn to his persona as a clean-cut athlete and a good Christian.  Reports even suggest he is (cue gasp) a virgin.  Despite only playing a few games during his first year with the Broncos, he led the NFL in jersey sales and quickly became a nationwide fan favorite.  He steered Denver to a playoff win during his second season, but was later traded to the New York Jets and spent most of the recent season riding the bench.

Tebow’s a controversial guy.  Fans love him, but because he’s a poor practice player who seems to prefer running over passing, many analysts believe (some vociferously) he can’t be an NFL quarterback.  Some say he too overtly wears his religious beliefs on his sleeve.  Some people just don’t like him. Today, it appears that the Jets will release him, and his NFL career is in question.  Rumors abound that he may end up with any of a half dozen teams next year or possibly in the Canadian Football League.

I wonder what will become of Tebow and his brand.  Has he already had his 15 minutes of fame?  Will his off-the-field image continue to outweigh his on-field performance?  Has Tim Tebow’s fame actually hurt his football career?  And, can we compare him to any other public figures in recent memory?  Following are few possible scenarios for how we might see him in the future:

He’s Anna Kournikova
A Russian tennis star with supermodel looks, Anna Kournikova has been a gossip column and entertainment page regular for years.  While she packs a mean serve and volley, the blond and beautiful athlete is typically referred to as one of the most popular tennis stars who never won a singles tournament.  She will always be famous, but less for how she played the game than how she looked doing it.

He’s Kris Humphries (Mr. Kim Kardashian for 72 days)
An NBA power forward, Humphries burst onto the celebrity scene when he started dating and then quickly married reality television “A-Lister” Kim Kardashian.  Though they split after 72 days, Humphries was one of the few NBA players who was more famous for who he was married to than for his prowess on the basketball court.  While not a hall of famer, Humphries remains a pretty good NBA player, but he will always be known as a hoops star who married into mega-fame.

He’s Sarah Palin
The one-time governor of Alaska, hockey mom, reality show star and vice presidential candidate rocketed to the front page when John McCain named her as his running mate in his 2008 campaign for president.  A risky selection due to a lack of experience and questionable (and unvetted) political decisions, Palin remains both a conservative darling and frequent liberal target.  Despite her many detractors and the ease at which she is mocked by writers on Saturday Night Live (“I can see Russia from my house”), some still consider the popular Republican Palin a viable, future presidential candidate.

He’s Jeremy Lin
Cue “Linsanity!”  Professional basketball player Jeremy Lin became one of the biggest stars of the 2011-12 NBA season despite being virtually unknown when it began.  A Harvard grad who spent most of his NBA career in the developmental league, he burst on the scene after a series of injuries pushed him up the New York Knicks depth chart.  Lin became the first NBA player to score at least 20 points and have seven assists in each of his first five starts.  His play during 26 games captivated New York and the nation for a period of several weeks, so-called Linsanity.  The New York Times called him the Knicks’ most popular player in a decade.  Despite his success last season and a big contract from the Houston Rockets, some still believe he is merely a bench player.

Based on my expertise from listening to too much sports radio, I think Tebow will still be in the NFL next year but not with the Jets.  His brand will endure, but he needs to land with a team that can handle his off-the-field fame and also give him a chance to raise his game to the level of his celebrity.

What do you think?



Author: John P. David

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