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Tim Tebow and the Double Standard of GQ Magazine’s “Sexy Jesus” Photo

Tim Tebow on September's GQ magazine coverSomewhat controversial now, Tim Tebow’s “Sexy Jesus” photo in GQ will only prove prophetic when the media rush to crucify him again—whether it’s about his faith or football.

Tim Tebow is perhaps more consistently known as an evangelist of his Christian faith than he is for his footballing skills. So it’s no surprise that the New York Jets’ new backup quarterback is portrayed in a holy light in GQ magazine’s NFL Kick-Off issue which hits newsstands Aug. 21.

But it’s the magazine’s heralding of Tebow as a “Sexy Jesus” or as a “lord” and “savior” as it relates to football that just perpetuates the double standard any successful athlete has been held to since B.T. (before Tebowing).

The divine parallels between Tebow and football drew themselves last season—and were celebrated by a sports world that always seems to be looking for a hero. In Tebow they (eventually) trusted.

Time after time, his woeful stats through the third quarter somehow miraculously transformed into a fourth-quarter comeback. It nearly made the jokesters who were quite sure Tebow was giving the glory to a God who didn’t watch football question their original assessment.

But that was when Tebow was the QB of nearly last resort, the underdog on his own team that the Denver Broncos turned to when they had nothing else to lose. And then, during “Tebow time” the impossible became possible. It had all the makings of a religious parable.

As much as the media loves underdogs, it seems they rejoice as much in building them up as they do in tearing them down. That rise and fall is good for business, ratings and newsstand sales.

Might the humble Tebow be a prime target for a similar trajectory? The media now seems hell bent on highlighting any controversy around him—or creating it if they have to.

After all, these photos from GQ’s September issue were recycled from his days as the University of Florida’s all-everything quarterback. The color’s been removed from what’s been dubbed as the “Sexy Jesus” photo and any Gators references in the stadium behind him have been edited out.

So what’s to see here? According to some critics, the “Sexy Jesus” photo is proof—finally—that this is how Tebow views himself. But even if he does, why wouldn’t he? Especially when the GQ article builds “Him” up into a deity that it’s OK to bow down to, repent to and praise his name—as long as he can win football games.

The double standard is that Tebow is crucified for his faith, yet worshipped like a god on the gridiron—at least when he’s good.

This buildup of biblical proportions isn’t all Tebow’s doing. Maybe not even close, since he didn’t even know he was going to be featured in the magazine.

But this “Sexy Jesus” photo may prove prophetic when or if Tebow takes a tumble personally or professionally, and the media rushes to nail him to the cross they’ve already been creating for him.