- (Reuters/Rick Wilking)
Whether it be the recent comments by former NFL quarterback Kurt Warner, jokes from comedians or the plethora of jabs from opposing football fans, one thing remains true: a lot of people have a lot to say about Tim Tebow and the Denver Broncos quarterback's outspokenness about his faith.
But that may not be a bad thing, according to Ryan Weyls, a music, sports and literature writer and contributor to the OC Weekly and Village Voice.
"I think Tebow gets a lot of advice because no one really wants to see him get eviscerated by the more hateful elements in the media," Weyls told The Christian Post. "His message may be a bit disruptive within its context – an NFL game – but it's evident that he's a conscientious person who wants to use his platform to do more than promote sports drinks or shoes."
Recently Warner, another outspoken Christian, urged Tebow to tone down his religious symbolism and remarks during games and let his actions do the talking.
Warner was speaking from experience. After winning the 2000 Super Bowl with the St. Louis Rams, Warner famously said "thank you Jesus," which sparked a career chockfull of on-camera religious statements.
It is something Warner does not want to see from Tebow.
"Religion will always be a heated topic in this country and public figures who openly identify with any faith are open to attack," Weyls said. "I think Warner wants to spare Tebow that sort of criticism and help him find a way to keep their shared message prominent."
Tebow has drawn criticism from fellow NFL players, including former Denver Broncos quarterback Jake Plummer.
"I think he's a winner, and I respect that about him," Plummer has said. "I think that when he accepts the fact that we know that he loves Jesus Christ, then I think I'll like him even better."
"I don't hate him because of that. I just would rather not have to hear that every single time he takes a good snap or makes a good handoff," Plummer continued.
But that just might be what makes Tebow such a popular sports figure.
"He's not promoting himself for wholly material ends - he's not one of those athletes trying to launch an R&B career from the NFL," Weyls said. "He's putting himself out there primarily to proclaim his beliefs."
And Tebow is doing it in true NFL fashion.
The league has a long-standing tradition of flamboyant players with unique antics.
Former New York Jets quarterback Joe Namath used to wear a full-length fur coat on the sidelines of games. Former Chicago Bears quarterback Jim McMahon sported sunglasses during in the team's "Super Bowl Shuffle" video and engaged in near-constant pompous off-field acts.
Neither is Tebow the first openly evangelical Christian player.
Warner used to mention his faith to reporters and wear the occasional Christian T-shirt, Weyls said. But it is Tebow who takes evangelism on the field to a whole new level.
"Tim Tebow collapses into spontaneous prayer on the field," Weyls said. "He's kind of out there, for a football player."
And even if fans do not like Tebow's religious views, "Tebowing" has earned him fan support.
"Not every game is totally entertaining to watch," Weyls said. "So if there's some quirky dance or chant or something, it not only adds entertainment value, it can create a bond between fans."
Judging by the growing popularity of the fan-created website, Tebowing.com, it is safe to say Tim Tebow has definitely impacted fans and pop culture.