Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow (15) kneels in prayer before the game against the Chicago Bears during at Sports Authority Field. The Broncos defeated the Bears 13-10. (Ron Chenoy-US PRESSWIRE)
(USA TODAY) -- It appears that some conservative Republicans looking to stop Mitt Romney want the ultimate endorsement.
Tebow, whose unorthodox quarterback skills and public professions of Christianity have made him a national sensation, told the Associated Press that several Republicans have sought his endorsement, though he's not making one.
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"I think you have to have so much trust in who you support, just from product endorsements to endorsing a candidate, because if that person or company does something (bad), it reflects on you," said Tebow, whose product endorsements include Nike, Jockey and FRS energy drink.
We suspect that Rick Perry is one of those candidates "Tebowing" for an endorsement from the football star, having said he is planning a Tebow-like comeback in the South Carolina primary on Jan. 21.
But any Republican would be glad to have it, given Tebow's popularity among religious conservatives.
(Although we can't help but wonder whether a Tebow endorsement might have limits in South Carolina; University of South Carolina football fans no doubt recall that Tebow and the Florida Gators beat the Gamecocks four straight times back in his college days.)
Of course, Tebow has other things on this mind: a Saturday night playoff game at the New England Patriots (presumably Romney's team).
USA TODAY's Christine Brennan writes about Tebow as a political phenomenon:
It's obviously not just Tebow's good behavior off the field and surprising performance on it that is enticing to candidates in the GOP race. It's his religion, of course, and how he wears it on his sleeve, not to mention his knee.
This isn't the first time Tebow has been asked to lend his name to someone or something. He has clearly embraced the idea of endorsing products and is now appearing shirtless in a new Jockey commercial.
Just last month, the It Gets Better Project, which is trying to stop suicides among gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender teens, petitioned the Denver Broncos, with Tebow in mind, to join its campaign as teams such as the Los Angeles Dodgers have. "It's the good Christian thing to do," organizer Andy Szekeres said.
The Broncos declined. They did issue a statement, however, saying they are "committed to tolerance, acceptance and respect for all in the community."
The request from the It Gets Better campaign made perfect sense: Who better to ask for help for an anti-bullying campaign than the nicest guy in town? Tebow certainly can't be for bullying gay kids. And he has shown a willingness to weigh in on social issues before -- just on the other side.
Two years ago, he and his mother appeared in a Super Bowl ad for Focus on the Family, an advocacy group that opposes gay rights as well as choice on the issue of abortion.
It's absolutely appropriate that groups such as these would seek Tebow's support and endorsement, even if one would have much more of a chance than the other to receive it. When you step off the sidewalk and join the parade, as he has on religious and social issues, you open yourself to the scrutiny of the world in ways most athletes steadfastly avoid.
Nearly 16 years ago, Tiger Woods found himself in a similar place. In a Nike ad, he said, "There are still golf courses in the United States that I cannot play because of the color of my skin." Tiger's father, meanwhile, was busy comparing his son to Gandhi and Nelson Mandela. Because Tiger was so willing in those early days to take on an issue with social ramifications, he received questions that other golfers never would, ranging from the discrimination against women at Augusta National to the use of the Confederate flag in South Carolina.
So, now, Tebow. Last year, a publicist wouldn't allow him to answer a question about same-sex marriage in a Washington Post interview. That's not the last time he'll be asked that question, nor should it be. Tebow, in his affable way, chose this path. He surely knows what's coming.