"I have lost the debate on Tim Tebow’s skill as a quarterback. But I’ll still challenge Tim Tebow’s politics for as long as necessary. And in that battle, the fight continues."
That's how leftist sportswriter Dave Zirin concluded a January 8 column at EdgeofSports.com. So naturally Zirin was the perfect guest for MSNBC to bring on today to discuss the "polarizing" Tim Tebow. [MP3 audio available here; video posted below page break]
"When it comes to polarization and setting people's teeth on edge, comparing Tom Brady to Tim Tebow is like comparing an acorn to an oak tree," The Nation sports editor Zirin began, prompting laughs from NewsNation substitute host Craig Melvin.
Of course, the implication is that Tebow is a "polarizing" figure may be true only in the sense that the public at large and the liberal mainstream media see the world radically differently. The public largely loves Tebow, the liberal sports media, Zirin in particular, not so much.
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"Tebow bothers a lot of people for his actions both on the field and off... off the field we know what it is, there's been a lot of discussion about it, his evangelical Christianity, his spokesmanship for Focus on the Family," Zirin noted.
Later in the segment, Zirin informed viewers that Focus on the Family believes in "reparative gay therapy and ending reproductive rights for women...Tim Tebow never gets asked about this," groused Zirin, although, of course, Tebow has never used his celebrity as a platform to plug "reparative gay therapy" and his pro-life Super Bowl ad ended up being much tamer than left-wing zealots made it out to be.
What really frosts Zirin, apparently, is that Tebow is still playing in the NFL, not having had his career "destroyed" by his "politics":
To call Tim Tebow a religious figure is like calling Jerry Falwell a religious figure. He's always been comfortable where politics and religion meet. And there's nothing wrong taking him on about that.
And the hypocrisy that I see is I see a history of athletes in this country from Muhammad Ali to John Carlos and Tommie Smith to Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf in the 1990s for the Nuggets who expressed beliefs on the other side of the spectrum and had their careers destroyed for it.
Carlos -- about whom Zirin wrote a book, "The John Carlos Story" featuring a preface by Cornel West -- and Smith were amateur athletes in track and field, one of many Olympic sports that has no professional analog. What's more, Carlos and Smith were recognized a few years back by ESPN, presented with the Arthur Ashe Award for Courage at the 2008 Espy Awards.
Muhammad Ali registered as a conscientious objector to Vietnam, and continued to box professionally for some 15 years after doing so, with his most famous fights coming in the mid-1970s, after the end of the draft and the gradual removal of troops from Vietnam.
What's more, Ali was the torch-lighter for the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, an incredible honor for someone supposedly blackballed by his politics and religion.
Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf served a one-game suspension for not standing during the national anthem in March 1996 but went on in the NBA for two more years. Abdul-Rauf still plays basketball today, for a Japanese team.
Not only is Zirin a politically-driven Tebow hater, he can't get his facts straight while doing so.