Was Tim Tebow “virginity” question out of bounds?


Birmingham—I get emails all the time basically asking why the media makes such a big deal out of Florida quarterback Tim Tebow.

 The notes I get basically say the same thing: “Well, yeah, Tebow’s a good football player and all that, but NOBODY is that good of a person. You geeks/nerds/idiots in the media need to quit fawning all over this guy and building him up. It’s too much.”

They even have a name for this attitude. It’s called the “Tebow Backlash.”

One of my mentors in the business, Irwin Smallwood of Greensboro, N.C., taught me as a rookie that reporters should always be skeptical but never cynical. But the media in the 21st century, at least what’s left of it, is incredibly cynical when it comes to analyzing Good. We don’t trust Good. Good has let us down too many times. After years of watching the Michael Vicks of the world, it’s easier (and professionally safer) to assume that Good is just a temporary destination on the way to Bad.

But here’s the deal with Tebow and I can only speak for myself. Every time that I think I have seen the limits of Tim Tebow, the athlete and human being, he does something else to make me realize that he is a once in a generation—maybe once in a lifetime—kind of person and athlete.

Thursday at SEC Media Days was a perfect example. I had a chance to spend some time with Tebow when we videotaped an interview for “Talkin’ Football” on CSS. Tebow was asked if the 2009 season, his last as a college football player, was one where anything less than an undefeated national championship would be considered a disappointment.

“Not at all. Would we like to win the SEC again? Absolutely. Would we like to win all of our games? You bet,” Tebow said. “Would we like to get another shot to play for the national championship? Of course. But this season is not going to be a failure if we don’t finish No. 1. This is about all of us getting close as a team and some of us enjoying our final season together.”

Sounds like a pretty healthy attitude.

Tebow’s personal ministry has taken him to a number of prisons over the years. But on Thursday he talked about a recent visit to Death Row. These were some of the worst for the worst. But Tebow went anyway.

“Think about that,” said Florida coach Urban Meyer. “Does it get any tougher than that? How many of us could look those men in the eye? And he does it because he wants to help. It was what he was put here to do.”

After our talk Tebow again showed why he is different than any other athlete I’ve covered. In a large interview room he was asked a totally inappropriate question—whether or not he is still a virgin (I am not going to mention the person’s name who asked the question or his website. It’s out there if you really want it).

 Tebow was within his rights to get up and walk out of the room. He was within his rights to tell the questioner that it was none of his damned business. Instead he said “Yes, I am.” The reporters in the room—at least the ones with integrity—were clearly uncomfortable at the line of questioning. Tebow laughed and put them at ease.

He took a situation where a “reporter” was clearly out of line and made light of it. It was a move few us could have made so deftly.

Look, I’m a big boy. This is the SEC and it’s a tough, competitive situation. And if you have to compete against Tebow there is only so much you can like the guy. I get that.

But I also get this. Tebow has a chance to finish his football career with three national championships, three SEC championships, and two Heisman Trophies. Are the odds against that? Of course. But if he pulls it off, you have to start talking about Tebow as perhaps the greatest college football player of all time.

And he’s done it all with a level of commitment to something bigger than football that we have rarely seen. When it comes to his faith, he has talked the talk and then he has walked the walk. To him, the slings and arrows from the cynics are worth it because the media exposure—good and bad—gives him a platform to talk about the more important things in his life.

So I, for one, am not going to spend a lot of time waiting for the other shoe to drop when it comes to Tim Tebow. I’m going to enjoy his final season at Florida, regardless of how it turns out. Because after he’s gone, we probably won’t see another one like him for a long, long time. If ever.

The guy is good. Really good.  And we are all going to have to get comfortable with that.


Programming note: Bob Neal, Mark Schlabach, Sandra Golden and I will do our final CSS “Talkin’ Football” show from SEC Media Days today at 6 p.m., Eastern time. Among the coaches  scheduled to appear are Tennessee’s Lane Kiffin, LSU’s Les Miles, South Carolina’s Steve Spurrier, and Auburn’s Gene Chizik. Please join us.


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204 comments Add your comment


July 24th, 2009
10:07 am

I’m not surprised that a news employee (they’ve stopped being journalists, sports or no) asked the questions. I would be surprised if his intent was to not to embarrass Mr. Tebow. It is well known that TT is a committed Christian. Staying a virgin until married is standard behavior for those who belong to Christ. But man has perverted God’s ways in favor of whatever they want to do. So the news employee thought he was calling out a freak. But to paraphrase Joseph from the Bible, he told his brothers who had sold him into slavery, that what they meant for evil, God turned to good. I think TT did the same.

[...] more measured response exists, but you can go ahead and go fully plaid by listening to the excerpts on Finebaum, and then enjoy a [...]


July 24th, 2009
10:08 am

Tony, just when I think EVERYONE in journalism has gone TMZ, you restore my faith and make me realize there are still real professionals in the field. Thank you. It is no wonder that with anyone I talk to, fans etc, you are indeed Mr. College Football and the most respected journalist in the South.

Slow Freddie

July 24th, 2009
10:11 am

David, 9:39 post, and Steve, 9:47 post, your a couple of really sick puppies. Your personal lives must be one constant hell. You are to be pitied.


July 24th, 2009
10:12 am

ONLY a HUGE IDIOT would ask Tebow a question along those lines. That person should be banned from reporting on SEC football.

Slow Freddie

July 24th, 2009
10:12 am

Sorry for the grammar error: “you”re” — not “your”.

Bama Aaron

July 24th, 2009
10:13 am

As a Bama man I really hate Tim Tebow the player for what he did to my Tide in the SEC title game last season. But as a person you can’t help but like the kid and really admire what he stands for.
I’ll admit I’ve been of grumbling about him because all of the praise and constant fawning over him that most of the media does will give you Tebow fatigue. However what that “blogger” did yesterday was totally classless. And Tebow’s response truly showed his character and how much better than that blogger he really is.


July 24th, 2009
10:16 am

Great article Tony!

The comment from “Steve” would be a perfect example for a psychology teacher to show the concept of “projection”. The questions for Steve is whether he’s a homosexual or just a virgin himself. Bets anyone?


July 24th, 2009
10:19 am

Tim Tebow is the best college football player in the past few years and he is just like former great qb
Jay Barker of Alabama. Tim and Jay both love the Lord JESUS CHRIST and would tell you in a new york minute. The question asked by Clay Travis was out of line and it was stupid to ask it in the first
place. If you want kids to have a role model to follow than TIM TEBOW is the best one to follow!!


July 24th, 2009
10:19 am

Here is the media vote taken this morning:

64 total votes

SEC Champions – Florida (63), Ole Miss (1)

Eastern Division
1. Florida (64) 64
2. Georgia 133
3. South Carolina 217
4. Tennessee 258
5. Vanderbilt 317
6. Kentucky 355

Western Division
1. Alabama (33) 109
2. LSU (15) 145
3. Ole Miss (16) 149
4. Arkansas 245
5. Auburn 309
6. Mississippi State 387

No surprise about the Gators. Some thought Ole Miss would be favored to win the West but I don’t see them beating LSU or Bama. That is not intended to be a flame, just my opinion. Bama should have the edge based on LSU’s schedule. I see Bama going 7-1 while LSU and Ole Miss go 6-2. This could be one of the most exciting SEC seasons in recent memory.

Geaux Tigers


July 24th, 2009
10:20 am

play ball!!

UF goes to Baton Rouge this year?? can’t wait for that game


July 24th, 2009
10:21 am

gatorman770…I don’t know if “Steve” is a homosexual or a virgin and it’s really none of my business but one thing is for sure…he has “opened his mouth” and removed all doubt as to whether he is an idiot…


July 24th, 2009
10:22 am

Players shouldn’t be subjected to personal questions like that, but I’m glad that Tebow took it in stride. I think he is a standup guy and as far as his beliefs and faith go, he is the real deal. He talks the talk and walks the walk, and there will always be people who will take potshots at him for it. Regardless of what team you root for, its hard not to like Tim Tebow. I wish him the best in his future endeavors, wherever that might take him.


July 24th, 2009
10:24 am

Tim Tebow is not a virgin, he’s been bending the SEC over for 3 years now. Oh, wait, that’s not what he meant…


July 24th, 2009
10:32 am


This is why you are the best in the business….I live in the state of Florida, but i am anything but a Gator fan……But this kid Tebow is really special….It takes a lot more guts to stand up for what you believe than to run over a linebacker…..


July 24th, 2009
10:38 am

I liked Tim’s Dad’s comment in the SI article supplied yesterday by the Gator fan – when talking about wanting a son, he said “I asked God for a preacher, and he gave me a quarterback!”. And, he gave him a pretty good person, too!


July 24th, 2009
10:41 am

It takes one comment to make all you morons react. Typical gator fans. The issue is not that he is gay or not, is that he is a phony. Every thing he does or say is staged, and he makes sure the cameras are around when he says or does anything.

After living in Florida for over 20 years, Gators would disown him if he came out of the closet.


July 24th, 2009
10:45 am


July 24th, 2009
10:46 am

Leave it to a Vol to ask as question like that…lose on the field and at life


July 24th, 2009
10:50 am


Bo in North Carolina

July 24th, 2009
10:53 am

Tampa Dave, I’m a Dawg in North Carolina and I completely agree with you. Best of luck Tebow


July 24th, 2009
10:53 am

Usually, there is nothing but vile, obscene posts on these blogs about one school or another. Tim Tebow has brought nothing but good things out of all the posters. That in itself is one heck of an accomplishment. I am a UGA fan and want to not like this kid, but simple can’t. My friends hate him. I always say, “How can you hate a guy who volunteers to go on missions in the Phillipines in his FREE time in the OFFSEASON?” 100% class all the way. God Bless Tim Tebow.


July 24th, 2009
10:54 am

I don’t know if Tebow’s phony or not. I hope not. But what about his coach ? Again, I don’t know, but I bet there are plenty of Tebow “fans” who thinks Urban IS phony. Quite the irony, huh ?

Paul Finebaum flames both Florida and Bama

July 24th, 2009
10:56 am

Anyone see Finebaum flame both of em in one shot last night. Man it was funny but the guy had a point. I’ll paraphrase.

“Florida fans are the worst. They act like they’re Alabama or Notre Dame or something. They’ve only been good 20 years and don’t realize that Florida football was non-existent pre Steve Spurrier. Of course Meyer will look at ND”. He then referenced the something about the ND tradition being more than 20 years and all that stuff.

On Bama he said. “And they want to give Nick Saban an extended contract and a raise? For what? The man doesn’t have a buyout so why give him a raise and extend his contract? Alabama fans just don’t want to hurt Saban’s feelings so they throw more money at him”.

Like him or not there is a lot of truth in his statements about both Bama and Florida. Florida’s program has been great for 20 years and lately in particular but other than that they have been largely irrelevant throughout their history. These guys have a way overblown sense of ego.

Bama fans. Think they should throw more money at Saban cause they don’t want to make him feel bad. Their is some truth here as well. This guy has way to much power and control at Bama. Make him win a national title before you start throwing even more money at him you chumps.

Reality Check

July 24th, 2009
11:15 am

Tony – It’s a shame that you’re drinking this Tebow-hyperbole “Kool Aid”. He is a fantastic player, but no better than Matt Leinart, Tommy Frazier or McCoy and Bradford, the current Heisman winner. He’s a great kid, but no better than McCoy who is another humble Christian kid who’s been doing missionary work in Central America for years…WITHOUT THE NEED FOR MEDIA COVERAGE. It would be great if media types gave this kind of coverage to all the HUNDREDS of other student athletes who do what Tebow does AND MORE. Instead we get TV games with media members going overboard about how “15 minutes with Tebow would change our lives.” How do we know that Tebow is a better leader than McCoy or Bradford…last time I checked each had a TEAM with one loss at the end of the regular season. Texas and Florida finished with the exact same record. Is it because Bradford and McCoy and Tommy Frazier and Matt Leinart and Danny Weurffel weren’t running around yelling at teammates? Tony, I enjoy your writing, but before we proclaim this great football player the greatest to ever walk the earth, let’s slow down and remember that their are a few great football players in the game right now who in their own way do just as much as Tim. But because it doesn’t come with all the bells and whistles that attract attention, folks like you and others don’t want to give it the light of day.


July 24th, 2009
11:16 am

I think the way to reduce these type questions is in the article you should have identified the name of the reporter and what media source this reporter works for. If you want to ask an embarrassing question fine, but you should be part of the embarrassment as should your employer..


July 24th, 2009
11:17 am

Mr Finebaum Flames…

Over the last 50 years, Florida has a better winning % and only one less national title than ND. Finebaum is a clown of the highest order.


July 24th, 2009
11:27 am

Kudos to all of the classy posts today. Some things supercede sports and I am thankful that the QB for UF is such a class act!

[...] Was Tim Tebow “virginity” question out of bounds? | Mr. College Football [...]


July 24th, 2009
11:35 am

Tony, thanks for the interview with Tebow.

Huge Dawg fan here, but have come to respect Tebow, even though he breaks my heart and has me fighting mad on gameday. I root for a bad game from him on the field because I am a fan and a bad game from him helps my team, but off the field I salute the guy because he is a stand up human being. The whole death row story is a perfect example. I couldn’t do it and it takes a certain character like Tim to be able to do that. Hats off to him and I hope the whole world has something to offer him whether it be football or something else after this year.

As for jag off that came up with that question, what does the person who employee’s him thinking about this morning? Not very good I hope.


July 24th, 2009
11:36 am


July 24th, 2009
11:36 am

Sorry, Amen, Tony!

JenniferGO Dawgs

July 24th, 2009
11:40 am

I bleed red and black and yes all I hear is Tim Tebow this and Tim Tebow that, the media has made him a god like creature, there is only one GOD and he is not it so tim get off your high horse!


July 24th, 2009
11:46 am

I don’t understand the furor. If you accept that the questioner’s claim that he expected the answer he received, the incident becomes much more palatable and even (to many) refreshing. I guarantee thousands of young football fans across the South that would be encouraged by Tebow’s candor and commitment on the matter.


July 24th, 2009
11:47 am

Finebaum..The last 20’s years have long time coming, but don’t say we have been irrelovent, that’s not true. At least not for many Gators who are fortunate to still be here and those who gone to a better place.


July 24th, 2009
12:00 pm

Tony, I would like some reports on how the investigation is going in uncovering the culprit behind the Florida SEC championship snub. Whoever it is should man up and come clean while they have the chance. If not, they can kiss their career good bye. It is simply unconscionable not to vote for Florida to win the SEC. I am simply in shock!!!

Island Dawg

July 24th, 2009
12:05 pm

Tebow could be absolutely slaying it in Gainesville or anywhere else he goes. If he has truly stayed true to his values and remained a virgin I am extremely impressed by his resistance to temptation; I know I couldn’t do it. Also even if he’s not, who cares? What a stupid a$$ question. I agree how pi$$ed NOW would be if someone asked a gymnast that question or questioned a softball player’s sexuality


July 24th, 2009
12:08 pm

As a GT/UGA fan i gotta say theres probably not a more humble football player on the planet. The complete opposite of the Vicks, and Travis Henrys of the world. But then again that should come as no surprise because we all know the majority of black youth culture is morally bankrupt.


July 24th, 2009
12:33 pm

The world needs more Warrick Dunns and Dikembe Mutombos. Sadly, scumbags like Chris Brown are more accepted and looked up to in black schools than the quality men. Is it the Jews fault for owning BET and the lack of values in black culture like Farrakhan claims? Or is it Jessy Jacksons fault for failing to place the blame where it should lay… in the destruction of the black family by black men? Personally i agree with the “other Jessy” Jessy Peterson is 100% right, and so is Cosby. But sadly their names and ideas are rarely mentioned by the national media. Why? Because the NAACP dosent make any $$ off of placing the blame on its on people!


July 24th, 2009
12:37 pm


The same person who voted for Jevan Snead instead of Tim for first team All-SEC OB. (SOS)


July 24th, 2009
12:39 pm


Your racist spew has no place here, or anywhere else for that matter!

kauai dawg

July 24th, 2009
12:43 pm

Great article Mr. Football!
The question was way out of line and just demonstrates the character and integrity that Tebow displays. I am a huge DAWGS fan but yet I admire Tebow and his character. He is great for college football and yet he is great for the world. A young man who has his head on straight and more important, his heart is right and he is unashamed of his relationship with Jesus Christ! Keep up the great work Tony and thanks for not being a reporter of this day and age. Go DAWGS!


July 24th, 2009
12:54 pm

must you write about florida everyday??????????????????


July 24th, 2009
12:59 pm

The same person who voted for Jevan Snead instead of Tim for first team All-SEC OB. (SOS)

Can’t be. We’re talking about a media vote. They should be able to lift fingerprints off the guy’s ballot or trace it to his computer if he submitted it electronically. What kind of moron thinks they can get away with something like this? They are toast.


July 24th, 2009
1:03 pm

I have said it before, and I’ll say it again:

Tim Tebow is the kind of young man any Dad would be proud to call his son.
He is a refreshing departure from the daily parade of disappointment sensationalized by our media (to echo Atlanta Gator’s sentiment).


July 24th, 2009
1:07 pm

I’ve been a Bulldog since birth and it pains me to like anyone who wears a Gator on their uniform, you can’t talk bad about Tebow. He speaks of his faith and his life doesn’t contradict what he says. I admire him as a human being and for the football player he is. (Even if I still hope he loses on a certain Saturday in the Fall.) As for the question, totally out of line and that reporter should have been kicked out of the interview room. Shameless! But kudos to Tebow for now balking.


July 24th, 2009
1:13 pm

If he wins that 3rd championship and gets the Heisman again I plan on using his name as an analogy for anyone that is the best at anything…eg “Wow! That guy is the Tim Tebow of garbage collectors right there!” or “Don’t just do your job. Be the Tim Tebow of Executive VP’s” I’m givin’ it a 32.74% chance of actually catchin’ on…


July 24th, 2009
1:16 pm

Jennifer you are challenging Steve for stupid post of the day.Tebow is not God.Ask him and he’ll tell you he sins like the rest of us.The difference is Tim makes every efoort not to sin.


July 24th, 2009
1:18 pm

First of all, just because a UT person asks this question does not mean all UT fans are of that line. Secondly, as a father, I am glad the question was asked and answered. Tim Tebow is a young man that I can point my boys to as an example of someone who can be highly successful and still live for the Lord. This question provided a PLATFORM for his character and morals to be put on display. Remember, people tried to trap Jesus with questions too and they wound up being the ones who looked foolish.

I hate the Gators and I can’t wait for Tim to graduate. But as a person, he has my respect. And STEVE…wow…what a comment. Nobody said he was perfect. High school kids make mistakes…as do college students. His character is still to be admired…if I had a choice of my boys turning out like Tebow or you…I’d go with the UF QB anyday of the week and twice on Sunday.


July 24th, 2009
1:24 pm

I don’t think the question was TOO unfair. I think anyone who chooses a track in life that puts them in the public eye should be ready (as Tebow clearly was and is) to be srutinized and judged. We give people the illusion that their private life should stay private (and trust me, I’m not saying reporters should ask about it at media events), but in reality EVERYONE’s private life speaks to who you actually are and could be found out at any time. So if you’re in the public eye it shouldn’t be so shocking to get a question about it. The better question is whether you’re living it in a way you’re proud of and want people to know about. In this case Tebow sets a great example by answering the question with no apology or regret as to what his answer was. Very refreshing indeed.