January 22, 2010
Former star quarterback Tim Tebow used to rack up points for the University of Florida, but now he is scoring big with a pro-family message.
According to Christian ministry Focus on the Family, the Heisman Trophy winner and his mother will be featured in a Pro-Life television commercial scheduled to run during the Super Bowl on CBS-TV on Sunday, Feb. 7.
"Tim and Pam share our respect for life and our passion for helping families thrive," Jim Daly, president and CEO of Focus on the Family, based in Colorado Springs, Colo., said in a statement. "They live what we see every day - that the desire for family closeness is written on the hearts of every generation."
Daly says the generous gifts of donors, not funds from the ministry's general budget, have paid for the pricey TV spot.
Tebow fans may not know that Tim's mother was urged to abort Tebow during a troubled pregnancy and chose not to.
In 1985 Pam Tebow and her husband were Christian missionaries in the Philippines. Wanting to expand their family, they prayed for "Timmy" by name before she became pregnant. Pam fell into a coma just prior to the pregnancy after contracting amoebic dysentery, a bacteria transmitted through contaminated drinking water, and took a series of strong medications to treat her illness. Doctors later found those medications caused the fetus to be "irreversibly" damaged. They strongly urged Pam to abort her fifth child.
Declining the advice of her doctors, Pam gave birth August 14, 1987 to a healthy son without the devastating disabilities her physicians predicted. Pam cites her Christian faith as the reason for going through her pregnancy.
While Focus on the Family won't confirm the content of the ad, they do say the Florida Gators star quarterback and his mother will share "a personal story" centered on the pro-life theme of "Celebrate Family, Celebrate Life."
"The Tebows said they agreed to appear in the commercial because the issue of life is one they feel very strongly about," according to a Focus on the Family statement.
Focus on the Family is paying an estimated $2.8 million for the prime time spot. They join an elite lineup of advertisers where CBS estimates over 90 million viewers will watch. Advertising Age reports CBS is nearly sold-out for its broadcast of Super Bowl XLIV. CBS is getting between $2.5 million and $3 million for a 30-second ad.
According to a report in Advertising Age in 2005, half of those who watch the Super Bowl in the US tune in specifically for the TV commercials.
The survey also said nearly six in 10 Super Bowl viewers claim they talked about the commercials at work the day after the game, while fewer said they discussed the actual game.
"We are excited about the opportunity to have a commercial in the Super Bowl," said Gary Schneeberger, Vice President of Ministry Communications for Focus on the Family. "This is a great chance to get out a pro-family message in front of a large audience."
While Focus on the Family will be rubbing shoulders with corporate media giants in the spot rotation, Schneeberger says its success is measured differently.
"One important point is that we are not trying to sell America a car, or a soft drink or a website. We aren't trying to sell anything," said Schneeberger. "Our goal is different. Success for us is in how many people we can introduce the kind of help we have to offer."
But whether it's on a football field or attracting viewers to watch a TV spot during a Super Bowl, it seems Tebow was destine to be an evangelist yet while he was in his mother's womb. And only people of faith truly understand that God ordained destiny.
It is no secret that Tebow has been outspoken about his Christian faith. In fact, he's so passionate that during his football career he used eye-black markings as a way to share the Gospel with on-lookers.
John 16:33 and Hebrews 12:1-2 were just a few of the Scriptures he sported during a game.
In his final game as a college quarterback, Tebow's eye-black message beneath his eyes during the Sugar Bowl was "EPH 2:8-10," which reads, "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith -- and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God -- not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do."
Tebow's eye-black represents how something seemingly insignificant can have a huge impact. Google reports the keywords "Tebow's eye-black" has generated 94 million searches.
The Tebow campaign announcement comes as many participate in Sanctity of Human Life Week Jan. 17 - 24. The event observes the anniversary of the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision, which effectively legalized abortion in the United States.
"It is good any time we can see a positive Pro-Life message and get down to the reality," said Olivia Gans, spokesperson for the National Right to Life Committee. "It is critical to get out the truth behind the rhetoric."
Gans says Tebow's authenticity is refreshing and that the average American is impressed with his kind of character.
"In this case we are talking about a remarkable young man and obviously a very brave mother," Gans said. "It is important that we put this type of face on abortion."
Insiders from publications like Sporting News believe the commercial is a gutsy call for Tebow - especially for a quarterback who has yet to take his first snap as a professional football player. Most pro-lifers, however, are doing the "wave" in regards to the move and believe it will be a huge boost to the pro-family message.
Whether you support Tebow or not, it is clear advocates are tossing a Hail Mary on Super Bowl Sunday going for a big pro-life win.
Russ Jones is co-publisher of the award winning Christian Press Newspaper (ChristianPress.com) and CEO of BIG Picture Media Group, Inc., a boutique media firm located in Newton, Kansas. Jones holds degrees from the University of Missouri and St. Paul School of Theology. As a former NBC TV reporter he enjoys reporting where evangelical Christian faith and news of the day intersect. He is also president of the Fellowship of Christian Newspapers. Jones is also a freelance reporter for the Christian Broadcasting Network. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.