Tim Tebow fans and even non-fans are coming to the NFL football player's defense amid controversy over a photo where some have accused him of posing like Jesus on the cross.
Sportswriter Richard Langford, who has been called a Tebow hater, wrote late Tuesday in the Bleacher Report, "There is nothing to suggest that Tebow assumed that pose to be sacrilegious or say that he was the second coming. It was probably the photographer's idea, and it is far more logical to assume the intent was to pay tribute.
"This is an artsy type of shot, and coming to any conclusions on the motivation behind pieces that are up for interpolation is murky business, and ... art appreciation is in the eye of the beholder."
The photo of Tebow, quarterback for the New York Jets and outspoken Christian, is featured in the latest issues of GQ magazine, where Tebow is the cover story (headlined "Have You Accepted Tim Tebow as Your QB and Sunday Savior?"). It shows Tebow posing shirtless with his arms stretched out and his legs crossed in a similar fashion to Jesus on the cross.
Craig Carton of the "Boomer and Carton" show on WFAN accused Tebow of being a "fraud" and "narcissistic" over the photo, which was actually taken when Tebow was quarterback for the Florida Gators in college. While the GQ featured photo is in black and white, the original photo is in color with Tebow wearing the Gators uniform (at least the bottom half of it) with the Gators stadium in the background.
Langford noted that if the photo in question was taken during Tebow's college years as a Gator, then it should not warrant any criticism.
"Shoot, l offend myself while looking back on my college pics," he wrote.
Tebow fans seemed undeterred by the controversy and have posted messages on the quarterback's Facebook wall, praising him for his outspoken Christian faith.
Chance Greengrass wrote early Wednesday, "Hey Tim happy birthday, i hope you had a great one. I'm sorry for the hype you are getting from your GQ pose. I got upset when I saw it. just stay strong in our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Remember our reward will be great when we are persecuted for His Name sake. Also rejoice when we are persecuted for Him. God bless Tim and never quit keeping the faith."
Tebow celebrated his 25th birthday on Tuesday.
At least one commenter wasn't happy with Tebow's photo. "[A]s a Christan i am offended by your photo in GQ very tasteless, i am disappointed and wish you wouldnt mock the Lord Jesus, you knew what the pose would really be intended to look like i sure did, and so did all other Christians i looked up to you as a Christan, and an athelte please think about the photo and you will know it was not right," Carla Glover posted.
But most of the 10,000 comments on his birthday post were positive.
"Happy Birthday Tim, I hope it was a blessed one! You are such an inspiration to me! Thank you so very much for taking a stand for Jesus! When I read Matthew 6:20 I thought of you and what you are doing, keep it up! God bless you Tim!" wrote Vincent Rogers.