Tim Tebow is going to the New York Jets.
There are legitimate questions about whether Tebow can be an effective quarterback in the NFL. It was because of those questions that the Denver Broncos were anxious to unload him once they had secured the services of Peyton Manning. The Jets' acquisition of Tebow may prove to be one of the all-time bonehead moves made by a National Football League team.
But the negative reactions of some sports journalists to the move seem to be go beyond legitimate questions about quarterback mechanics, leadership ability, the willingness to be a back-up, or Tebow's on-the-field potential.
For example, in this interview, New York Post sports writer Bart Hubboch raises legitimate concerns about how much help Tebow can provide to the Jets, the motives behind the trade, and the effect the Tebow acquisition may have on Jets starting QB Mark Sanchez.
It's when he's asked about Tebow's possible positive effect on the Jets locker room that Hubboch seems to lose his way.
By all accounts, Tebow is an upbeat and fiercely competitive "team" guy. Anyone who's seen the video of his half time rant to his Florida Gator teammates in the national championship game must concede that. And while we might rightly wonder if that sort of cheerleading is welcomed in pro locker rooms, the accounts that I read from the Broncos locker room this past season indicated that Tebow is a team guy. Period.
But Hubboch says he doesn't understand why Tebow would be regarded as a positive force in the locker room. OK, he says, "he's very religious, he's a virgin, and he's a model citizen."
Are these the kinds of things that people refer to when they applaud Tebow's positive locker room presence?
I do applaud Tebow's willingness to be overt about his faith in Christ and to put that faith in practice by doing things for fans that most players don't.
But that isn't what I would call being a positive force in the locker room. I don't think that most semi-knowledgeable sports fans would either.
To me, any athlete who is a positive force among teammates is someone who thinks team first, works hard, and is focused on winning. From what I know, Tebow fits that bill and you can never have enough people like that on your team (assuming they can play).
What Hubboch seems to be reacting to is Tebow's faith and his expressions of that faith.
Early in the interview he deplores the fact that Tebow will bring "divisiveness in the locker room and in the fan base." In part, Hubboch was referencing the "quarterback controversy" that may result from Tebow's mere presence in the locker room. His subsequent remarks make clear, however, that so far as he's concerned Tebow's overt discipleship doesn't suit his tastes.
Tim Tebow won't bring divisiveness to New York or to the Jets unless people like Bart Hubboch decide to reject Tebow simply because they don't like him for the manner in which he follows his Lord or professes his faith.
That would hardly be fair and I think it ought to be labeled for what it is: bigotry (intended or not).
The Jets' deal for Tim Tebow may prove to be a disaster. But if it proves to be so, it will be because Tim Tebow can't do on the field what the New York Jets need for him to do. It won't be because he's a Christian, a virgin, or a model citizen.