Quarterback for Life
During this year’s American football championship, the Super Bowl, a pro-life television commercial has sparked controversy. Background on a moving story by Stefanie Stark
By Robert Moynihan, reporting from America
Controversy over Life at the Super Bowl
Tomorrow evening, millions of America will be glued to their television screens to watch the final championship game of the professional football season, the “Super Bowl” game between the Indianapolis Colts and the New Orleans Saints.
In the weeks leading up the game, there has been an intensifying “quarterback controversy,” but not involving either of the starting quarterbacks.
Rather, it involves a young man named Tim Tebow, who just graduated from college in December. He is one of the best young quarterbacks in the country, and a pro-life television commercial featuring his mother will air for 30 seconds during the “big game.” Hearing of this, pro-abortion groups have protested and sought to have the ad canceled.
I asked a good friend, a Catholic mother and writer/researcher Stefanie Stark, who lives a short distance from the Tebow family in Jacksonville, Florida, to look into the background of this controversy. She filed the following report. —Robert Moynihan
“God Sent Me a Quarterback”
“I asked God to send me a preacher. God sent me a quarterback.” —Bob Tebow (Tim’s father)
“And He said to them, ‘Go into all the world and preach the Gospel to all creation.'” —Mark 16:15
by Stefanie Stark
JACKSONVILLE, Florida, February 6, 2010 — Across the country tomorrow, many families and friends will gather around their flat-screen televisions to watch the Indianapolis Colts battle the New Orleans Saints in the Super Bowl XLIV airing on CBS. But the football player who has dominated the headlines is not the Colt’s Peyton Manning or Saints’ quarterback, Drew Brees. Instead, it is a player who has not yet been signed to the NFL: recent University of Florida graduate and 2007 Heisman Trophy winner, Tim Tebow.
The 22-year-old Gator quarterback has been called the next Brett Favre and is well known not only for his incredible talent as an athlete but also for the public witness to his faith by writing Bible verses in his eye black during games.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know by now that CBS is scheduled to air a pro-life ad during the Super Bowl that features Tim’s mother, Pam, discussing her decision to refuse her doctor’s advice to have an abortion and to have Tim.
The ad was funded by the Christian organization Focus on the Family and, according to Tim Tebow, the central message is “Celebrate family. Celebrate life.”
On the other side of this so-called “controversial” ad are the “pro-choice” groups such as National Organization for Women (NOW) and Planned Parenthood, who have called CBS’s decision to air the Tebow commercial “an outrage” because they believe “it sends the wrong message.”
These women’s groups have launched their own televised campaign demanding that CBS pull the 30 second Tebow ad.
At this point, it looks as though the network will continue with its plans to run the ad.
There are also rumors today that a second Tim Tebow ad, an uncut version of the one scheduled to run during the Super Bowl, will air during the pre-game show.
Why are many outraged over a gifted athlete and his mother with a moving, pro-family message, while so many other outrageous things seem to be accepted with no protest at all?
I recall just a couple of years ago, sitting with my own family, including small children, watching the Super Bowl XXXVIII Half-Time show where Janet Jackson shocked us all by revealing her bare breast. And what about the sexualized Super Bowl commercials that we have become accustomed to watching year after year? I don’t recall a similar “outrage” over these ads compared to the Tebow commercial.
In a public statement about the controversy surrounding his commercial, Tim Tebow said, “Some people won’t agree with it. But I think they can at least respect that I stand up for what I believe…And, unfortunately, in today’s society, not many athletes do that, stand for something… The reason I’m here is because my mom is a very courageous woman, and I’m very thankful for that.”
Tim Tebow’s 22 years of life have been anything but ordinary. He was born in the Philippines to missionary parents, Pam and Bob Tebow. His father once told Sports Illustrated, “When I was out in the mountains in Mindanao, back in ’86, I was showing a film and preaching that night. I was weeping over the millions of babies being [aborted] in America, and I prayed, ‘God, if you give me a son, if you give me Timmy, I’ll raise him to be a preacher.'”
Tim was born after a very difficult pregnancy in which his mother contracted amoebic dysentery and temporarily fell into a coma.
Her doctor advised her to have an abortion.
And Tim was born as the youngest of five children.
The Tebow family were and remain a family of evangelical missionaries, and that spirit of evangelization, which every Christian is called to, has been carried onto the field in a bold and surprising way by Tim Tebow.
Tim was homeschooled by his mother, like his older siblings, and played football with a local high school in Florida. He led his Nease High School Panthers football team all the way to a State Championship win.
Tim’s high school coach said, “I’ve never met a tougher guy…Tim is a true servant-leader.”
His father was quoted as saying, “I asked God for a preacher, and He gave me a quarterback.”
Tim Tebow, throughout his college career, participated in a prison ministry, as well as in missionary work in the Philippines, primarily at an orphanage that his dad started there.
The young quarterback met President Barack Obama in April last year, when the 2008 University of Florida national champion team was honored at the White House. The president said of Tebow, “Tim’s an inspiration to so many, a guy whose true strength comes not from the gym but from his faith.”
Obama went on to say, “He puts faith, family and academics above football. And that’s incredible when you think about what he’s done on the field.”
And earlier this week, Tebow met the president again when Tim was invited to offer the closing prayer at the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington, D.C. Not a bad start for the recent college graduate.
Coincidentally, just before I sat down to write this report about Tebow’s pro-life ad set to air during the 44th Super Bowl, I received a phone message from a dear friend. She called to say that a baby is about to be born to a teenage mother, currently in prison, because of something I said to the teen months ago, two days before her scheduled abortion.
I told this young mother, Krista, that her pregnancy was not a cluster of cells but a life — a child, created perfectly by God, with a God-given mission and a purpose.
She was scared and ran away to have the abortion but said that, ultimately, she could not do it because she was convicted by the truth.
I cannot wait to hold this baby when he is born, kiss him and say, “Welcome to the world, Little One!”
Each of us is given opportunities to evangelize, to proclaim the Good News, and to speak out for innocent life.
Sometimes those moments come when you least expect it, like my encounter with Krista, and sometimes they are planned, like the Tebow ad.
How many mothers planning an abortion might instead choose life because of the witness of Pam and Tim Tebow this Sunday? Only God knows.
But I am proud of Tim Tebow for using the platform given to him because of the gift of his athletic talent as an opportunity to share his Christian faith, embolden other Christians, and speak out on behalf of the unborn. All of us, you and I, have the same obligation, regardless of our station in life. Are we fulfilling it?
It seems to this writer that Tim Tebow’s father got even more than he wished for: a quarterback and a preacher. Instead of separating his athletic career from his faith, reserving it only for Sundays at church, Tim Tebow has managed to successfully marry his outward life with his inner faith. Maybe each of us Christians, whether Catholic or Protestant or Orthodox
“He that takes truth for his guide, and duty for his end, may safely trust to God’s providence to lead him aright.” —Blaise Pascal (French mathematician, philosopher, physicist and writer, 1623-1662)
Note: We still have one spot open on our Easter pilgrimage to Assisi and Rome. If you would like information about this trip, please email us immediately at: [email protected].
(1) a Russian Christmas Concert DVD;
(2) a CD on the Pope’s decision to restore the old Mass;
(3) subscriptions to our magazine.
The music tells the Christmas story in the deep, rich tradition of Russian ecclesial music, using the Russian language and English subtitles.
On December 17, 2007, a leading Russian orchestra performed an exceptional “world premiere” concert of Russian Christmas music at the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, DC. Now you can order your copy of the concert on DVD, which includes English sub-titles.
The music is a completely new composition by a young Russian Orthodox Archbishop, Hilarion Alfeyev, 43. At the time, he was the Russian Orthodox bishop for all of central Europe, based in Vienna, Austria. He is now the head of the External Relations Department of the Russian Orthodox Church.
Makes a wonderful gift. Order one for yourself, one for a loved one and one for a friend… at three copies, the price is less! Click here to order
(2) A Talk by Dr. Robert Moynihan on CD
“The Motu Proprio: Why the Latin Mass? Why Now?”
To understand the motu proprio, one must know the history of the Mass. Dr. Moynihan gives a 2000-year history of the Mass in 60 minutes which is clear and easy to understand. Dr. Moynihan’s explanation covers questions like:
— How does the motu proprio overcome some of the confusion since Vatican II?
— Is this the start of the Benedictine Reform?
— The mind of Pope Benedict: How can the Church restore the sense of the presence of God in the liturgy?