(Photo: The Gainesville Sun / Nathan Crabbe)
The response to the newly unveiled statue of former University of Florida quarterback Tim Tebow outside Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville, Fla., that includes John 3:16 in Tebow’s eye black has been “overwhelmingly positive” in the athletic department, according to a school official.
“We haven’t had any direct complaints about the statue,” Steve McClain, associate athletic director for communications, told The Christian Post.
It’s been over a week now since the Tebow statue, along with two others, were unveiled in honor of the Heisman Trophy winners. The other two statues are of Danny Wuerffel and Steve Spurrier. All three statues were funded privately.
According to The Gainesville Sun newspaper, the statue of Tebow was designed to be historically accurate and Tebow picked out the John 3:16 verse himself.
Tebow, 23, often wore Bible verses in his eye black while playing at Florida. During the 2009 BCS Championship Game against Oklahoma, Tebow wore John 3:16 – a proclamation of the Gospel – and the verse was the highest rated Google search for the day.
“In the national championship game, the verses I wore underneath my eyes, within the next two days, 94 million people had googled that,” said Tebow during a Southeastern Conference press conference in July 2009.
“When I heard that you’re like ‘wow.’ The impact that you have is incredible. And it’s truly a blessing,” he said.
The Gainesville Sun posed a question on its blog two days after the statue was unveiled on whether it was the right choice to include the biblical reference on the statue.
So far, more than 100 comments have been left.
“It’s who he is,” said a commenter named Kelley, whose remark was indicative of others. “He’ll always be remembered with the eye black. Well done.”
Some of the favorable responses sided more with freedom than actual agreement with what Tebow believes or espouses.
“I’m not a Christian and the Bible reference doesn’t bother me a bit,” said Tom. “Tim Tebow stood up for what he believed, that’s admirable. I’m glad UF had the guts to allow the artist to depict Tebow realistically.”
And of course, there were detractors.
“It may not be constitutionally illegal to put that statue at a public university if it is 100% privately funded,” said commenter Jimmy. “It is still shameful because the university cannot support any religion and UF is home to so many different faiths. And I question the legality, if it is maintained by state employees.”
The American Civil Liberties Union does not seem to have any problem with the statue though. Howard Simon, executive director of the ACLU of Florida, was quoted by the local newspaper as saying, “But this is not a religious statue; it is an accurate portrayal of a person who happens to be devoutly religious.”
Tebow is currently the quarterback for the Denver Broncos.