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
1:24 pm

Can we please talk about something else besides TEBOW??! A down has not been played and I’m already sick of him. GEES. WHO CARES, WHO CARES, WHO CARES!! He can pick his nose and beat off in a public park. WHO CARES!!!??? Talk about SOMETHING else. PLEASE!


July 24th, 2009
1:33 pm

Personally I have an ginormous case of “Tebow Backlash”. I loathe the constant undercurrent of religion in everything he does and the holier-than-thou attitude that comes along with it. As for being the best college football player ever…not! Herschel Walker took a Georgia team and program that had become mediocre and turned it into the dominate team of the early 80’s. His Georgia teams won 3 SEC Championships, 1 National Championship and played for two others. Total team record over his three years 33-3, Tebow’s 35-6. Is Tebow a good college football player? Of course, but he is no Herschel Walker.


July 24th, 2009
1:44 pm

JDW…I beg to differ. UGA did NOT play for 3 National Championships while Herschel was there. Clemson played for the title in 81 and UGA only had a chance if a series of events happened. I do admit he was a dominant player, but the SEC was not as good back then as it is now. Florida has won TWO national titles while Tebow has been there, TWO SEC titles, and more than likely will add a 3rd to both of those (although I hope not). And Tebow STAYED IN SCHOOL instead of bolting for a now defunct league like Herschel. I guess he could have gone to the UFL, but he figured a college degree was worth a little more as were his teammates.

Heaven forbid someone have a solid faith and speak out about it…


July 24th, 2009
1:44 pm

Rocky’s coach told him women would make his legs weak. Maybe that’s Tebow’s secret. What a dumb move on that reporters part. Nice article, though. I, too, who have bad mouthed Tebow from day one, have been impressed with his personal demeanor and determination. It is nice to know that you don’t have to be dumb, vulgar, and criminal to succeed in athletics. That is a massive generalization and I am leaving the way I stated it.

Bubba Ajhmadeni

July 24th, 2009
1:45 pm

Dude’s a better man than me. If I was that much of a BMOC, I’d be tapping as many, as often as I could.

Dawg Tired

July 24th, 2009
1:50 pm

The world needs more people like Tim Tebow. I’ve repeatedly said on these blogs that he is clearly the best player in college football today. He is probably the best combination of skill,heart, and leadership ever. His faith is obviously the driving force in his life. HOw can anyone not like Tim Tebow?

Voice of Reason

July 24th, 2009
1:56 pm

wow anonymous- thanks for embodying the very essence of what BravesFan was talking about. Rascist spew? exact opposite.


July 24th, 2009
2:12 pm

Tony….stop all this sec worship….you are making us all sick.

The ACC plays seven regular season games with the mighty sec.

I bet you the ACC wins at least 4 out of 7….just like last year winning 6 out of 10 in the regular season.

The sec is all hat and no cattle…it is the chan gomer gailey of conferences.


July 24th, 2009
2:20 pm

Well, utfaninga you may beg and you certainly differ but you have not persuaded me that Tebow is a worthy contender to the title. As for speaking out…wouldn’t the world be a better place if heaven did forbid the speaking out of one’s faith. Think of all the wars, lives and capital that would have been saved.


July 24th, 2009
2:23 pm

I don’t think the question was out of bounds at all. I think the perfect evidence of that was the poise at which the subject of the question handled it while everyone else in the room squirmed at the question. Tim Tebow is a self assured, confident man who is strong in beliefs and convictions, there’s no question you can ask the man that he wouldn’t handle with poise and dignity. There’s a difference between and “out of bounds” question and simply a tough or uncomfortable question, and life is full of discussions and conversations that need to be had even if they’re unpleasant. The point of the virginity question was not to find out the specific answer, but the manner in which it was answered. The tone and poise of the response is a far more detailed answer than a simple yes or no. The question was really meant to find out whether Tebow lives his life in the Godly manner in which we all believe he does. The question had no tact and was in poor taste, but it was a question that let us learn whether or not Tebow is really the man we all believe he is, so in that respect it was an honest and fair question. In this day in age when our sports heroes all to often turn out to be a person completely opposite of what we think they are, it’s inspiring to find one who turns out to be the perfect role model. I think the question taught us just as much about the insecurities of the reporters in the room than it did about the strength and poise of Tim Tebow’s beliefs. Afterall, he wasn’t the one offended by it, so if he wasn’t then why should anyone else take the offense for him?


July 24th, 2009
2:26 pm

Great article, Mr College Football. I am by no means a Florida fan, but you have to tip your hat to Tebow. Regardless what team you pull for (or against) – Tebow has earned my respect and is the perfect example of what a college athlete (or for that matter, a human being) should strive to be, with the qualities of hard work, discipline, character, integrity, leadership (who can ever forget that interview after last season’s loss to Ole Miss), etc. What a breath of fresh air Tebow has been.


July 24th, 2009
2:34 pm

To begin: I DISLIKE THE GATORS MORE THAN THE RECENT ROOT CANAL I HAD. Tebow is fabulous and I can’t wait until he is gone. As far as the virgin question, maybe it should not have been asked, but the fact that someone of his status answered the question and said no it FANTASTIC!! Young men are bombarded this day and age with sex and to have someone of his stature state that they are a virgin is great and very necessary. Good morals and living a life of faith are not in “vogue” in this day and age and the fact that he answered that question the way he did is a wonderful thing and I for one am glad it happened.

Tim Tebow

July 24th, 2009
2:40 pm


July 24th, 2009
2:53 pm

Great story Tony. Tim is a great athlete, qb football player and all that.

More important than all that is he is a great Christian youngman. What he did in answering that one question is a tribute and testimony to who he is as a Christian young man. What he did will cause some to question, as it has, how can he do that? That opens the door for his ministry. It gives him an opening by which he can spread God’s word to some who otherwise may not have given it a second thought. Tim understands that even tough he is heaped with praise it is Christ Jesus who is truly the beneficiary and recipient of the Glory, and rightly so.

You hear it all the time when someone stands up and thanks God. Why do they have to do that? Why can’t they do that in church where it belongs instead of making us have to listen to it? Do they really think God care who wins a football game?

First off God is to get all the glory for all things. Secondly as Christians we are to go out unto all the world. We are commanded to go about and spread the word(JESUS). Thirdly God doesn’t really care about football. He does however expect thanks and Glory for ALL THINGS. Because without him nothing is.


As for your statement Tim is a Saint as are all born again Christians. Guess I didn’t have to say born again. You can’t be a Christian unless you are born again and saved by the shed blood of Christ. Being a saint isn’t something given to you by a church, a Pope or a Pastor. It is something bestowed upon you by God when you accept his son Jesus as your Lord and Savior. It is not something granted by earthly powers.

As a Christian you are still a sinner. You still have a sin nature as long as you wear an earthly shell. You don’t stop sinning completely you just strive harder for perfection. Your sights are on Jesus and making him happy not on making the world and those around you happy. You hate sin. You take no pleasure in it like you did in the past. You ask for forgiveness when you do and guidance from God to resist the temptations.

A Christian is not a hypocrite because he sins. We are born sinners just like everyone else. If you continue over and over in that sin then you are a hypocrite, or perhaps not a Christian at all. You can fool yourself into thinking you are a Christian. That is why we are to exam ourselves to see if we are of the faith.

Tim is a great Christian example to the world. Christian and non Christian alike. I hope one day to be as strong in my faith and Christian walk as Brother Tim is.

Ted Striker

July 24th, 2009
3:00 pm

The question was out of line.


July 24th, 2009
3:02 pm

Tim Tebow is simply the Herschel Walker of his generation, period. He’s also a great kid. How he can be comfortable at a coarse place like UF I’ll never know, but he obviously is so more power to him. The question was disgraceful and way out of line, but the answer isn’t surprising. I hope the Dawgs kick his butt in October, but after that I wish him nothing but the best.


July 24th, 2009
3:09 pm

utfaninga: much of what Steve said was indeed out of line, but he does have a point about the showboating on the field. No one’s perfect, especially at that age, but the one chink in Tebow’s otherwise shining armor is that he does get a little too demonstrative on the field, to the point of showing up the other side. The crying incident also shows that he might not be the best loser, either. But if hyper-competitiveness is his only achille’s heel, then he’s a heck of a lot better than most of us.

Gen Neyland

July 24th, 2009
3:33 pm

The question sounded TMZish. Goes to show you there’s one in every crowd, even the Media Elite…Spurrier owns up to the (wink,wink) error in not voting Tebow. All’s well in Gatorville, Tebow is now unanimous selection. BTW, whether anybody recalls or not, Spurrious was my choice for this slight. To those who picked CLK, Crow is now being served…eat hearty but save room for desert.


July 24th, 2009
3:35 pm

I don’t mean to be too ‘cynical’ but nothing you wrote about Tebow seems that above the norm.

What football player, at the beginning of the season, is going to say they want to be #1 and will kick and scream if it doesn’t happen? Saying ‘we hope to win, but will be happy with being a close team’ is something I’ve heard every year, from every player and coach with a brain. And while I don’t know what it takes to ‘look a death row inmate in the eye,’ I’m thinking it’s much easier once they’re behind bars. I agree it’s wonderful that people minister to prisoners and Tebow’s a good guy to do so, but doesn’t the statement from Meyer seem a little over the top? And the question about his virginity was out of line. But you can’t seem to help yourself and gush as you quote Tebow’s answer. And that ‘he put us all at ease’ were your own feelings and words – not anything Tebow did or didn’t do. And you’re words come across a bit sycophantic.

Tebow’s a good guy and a great player. But if you’re trying to justify the Tebow media lovefest, you need write something different than this puff piece. This article only amplifies the crush you have on Tebow, and it certainly doesn’t dissipate the concern I have for media objectivity.

Sam Robards, Dawg Fan

July 24th, 2009
3:37 pm

The question was disgustingly out-of-place and inappropriate. ‘Nuff said.

Chuck Uga

July 24th, 2009
4:14 pm

Tebow is the guy you love one second, hate the next. Wish he had gone pro early! UGA may have a Top 5 team and still miss the SEC Title game. With the DL and an experienced OL, a 10-2 season is probable (one upset and one loss among LSU and UF). 9-3 is very possible, but UGA will not lose more than three games, all of them close losses although I could see UGA upsetting UF and still not winning the East. We’ll see.

All I'm Saying Is...

July 24th, 2009
4:15 pm

bob dobbes

July 24th, 2009
9:20 am

Your post nailed it my friend. You said exactly what needed to be said. The question was entirely appropriate — does he practice what he preaches or is he yet another holier than thou person who does the complete opposite (ex. Ralph Reed ducked the question when asked the same thing years ago during the height of his Christian Coalition days) — and kudos to Tebow for not ducking it.

Chuck Uga

July 24th, 2009
4:23 pm

utfaninga, you are wrong. UGA would have been awarded the national title in 1981 if Clemson lost and UGA won. UGA’s bowl loss eliminated them anyway, so it’s a moot point. UGA would have EASILY gone undefeated in 1983 if Walker had not been lured to the USFL by Trump (not that you would know the facts). He signed the document then quickly tore it up, but NCAA rules prohibited him from reneging and staying in school (he later obtained his degree anyway). If you knew Walker’s poor background, you’d understand why he was tempted to sign for all those millions. He is still the greatest college football running back of all time, and that has been voted on numerous times. He basically carried the rest of the team all three years he was there. The 1983 UGA team was the most talented of all time (at UGA) with many returning starters, they just didn’t have a RB. Recall that they beat an INCREDIBLY GOOD undefeated Texas team in the Cotton Bowl while Miami upset an “unbeatable” Nebraska team in the Orange Bowl. UGA barely lost to Bo Jackson and Auburn in November that year as well as a tie with Clemson. They basically had no starting running back on that team yet managed to only lose one game.

Dawgs fan in las vegas

July 24th, 2009
4:34 pm

i’m surprised it took so long for a GT rant from m or saint simons. must be a new record. Heaven forbid Tony talk about the SEC during SEC media days. If the ACC was as interesting as the SEC, then there would be more to talk about. I think this has to be the first year that there are no star players in the ACC. The only player that I know off the top of my head is Dwyer only because he plays for GT. Everyone else in the ACC are also rans. Am I tired of all the Tebow worshipping, yes. Is he a great player, yes. If he wins a second heisman, 3rd SEC title and 3rd national title, then I think it is fair that he can be labeled as the best college football player of his era. why not?

And for the person complaining about why Bradford or McCoy aren’t getting the press Tebow is getting is because Tebow beat Bradford head to head. Plain and simple. I think McCoy should have won the Heisman last year because without him, Texas wouldn’t have competed. Tebow has the hardware to back up all the praise.

I think I just threw up a little as I can’t believe I was defending Tebow.


July 24th, 2009
4:37 pm

If you know Southern Baptists, the “true” ones like Tebow live by the sword so to speak.

True So. Baptist will tell you (male or female) and make no bones about it, a virgin until wed.

They will also tell you they shout “Hoover” on the golf course when they hit a bad shot, only dam they know.

Fruit punch at the wedding reception, the list goes on.

Point is, they don’t get offended if they’re a true So. Baptist at heart


July 24th, 2009
4:43 pm

Nice article about Tebow,…again. The problem with Tebow, Michael Vick, Kobe, Lance Armstrong and all the others is OVERKILL!!!!!

Try this for a change. Go find a walk on who is in FCA, “who talks the talk, and walks the walk”. Look at the God given ability he has and how much harder he works than Tebow just to make the special teams. Find this person, and there is one on every team, and give us a feel good story about someone else. If you need some help, call me and I’ll point you in the right direction.

Anyway, keep up the good work.
Is Tebow a better person and football player than Danny Weurfal(sp)?

Dawgs fan in las vegas

July 24th, 2009
4:55 pm

murfdawg, the answer to your question is yes. he is a better football player than Danny Wuerfel (sp). a better person, i can’t say. I don’t personally know any of them so I can’t pass judgement. I just know they haven’t been arrested. who they are away from the cameras may be a different story.

The Blog Referee

July 24th, 2009
5:21 pm

AJC Editors,

Please remove every one of the comments by the blogger using the handle “UGA sucks . . .” That’s grotesque. Please remove these comments immediately.

Gen Neyland

July 24th, 2009
5:23 pm

TB : You’d do a great service for the football community if you’d put up another topic for the weekend…

Atlanta Sports Fan

July 24th, 2009
5:25 pm

Sports reporters and bloggers are constantly out of bounds.

People are sick of it. I hate the media.

I think Sain Simons, m, and Jeff Shultz are probably virgins too.

Unless their right hands qualify as their girlfriends.

Go Gator

July 24th, 2009
5:40 pm


July 24th, 2009
6:02 pm

Mr. Barnhart, I can’t remember a better article than you have written today. This was absolutely fantastic!

The Blog Referee

July 24th, 2009
6:16 pm

AJC Editors,

You missed deleting one of the comments by “UGA sucks . . .” Please delete the comment at 5:12 PM, too. Thank you.


July 24th, 2009
6:17 pm

I’m Auburn. Tony, that was the best article you have ever written. There is nothing wrong with admiring good. It is vice’s tribute to virtue.


July 24th, 2009
6:22 pm

He seems pretty gay to me.

Baton Rouge DAWG

July 24th, 2009
6:51 pm

Who cares what Tebows vagina to five finger love ratio is.


July 24th, 2009
7:22 pm

Comments from “m” are the reason why losing to Tech sucks. Everytime we lose to Tech, we have to hear about how damn great the ACC is and how overrated the SEC is. Damn UGA for going out there and playing half ass against Tech last season.Now we have to put up with the crap all off-season!

And for the record “m”, if Tech played UGA 7 times, UGA would win 5 or 6 out of the 7. That’s not Good Ole’ Fashion Tech Hatin Talk either, it’s a fact.


July 24th, 2009
7:25 pm

You bet Tim Tebow is every momma’s dream. But if you wrap yourself in whatever religion you happen to practice, you’ve got to expect a certain amount of criticism should one ‘go off the reservation’ sometime. My take on his show of one of the ‘Seven Deadlies’ (certainly Pride, and maybe a couple of more) at the end of last year’s NC game when he ran down the field and ‘Chomped’ (or whatever it’s called) in the face of one of the Oklahoma DBs was that he’s just as susceptible to ’slipping’ as the rest of us.

As for the ‘issue’, or ‘question’ about his virginity, my prediction is, one, there will be a big market on t-shirts this season that say ‘I Took Tebow’s Virginity’…and two, if he spends too much time in that ‘prison ministry’ the shirts will show up there as well.


July 24th, 2009
7:28 pm

Hey dan, look on the bright side…as least now we should be able to get an ‘even’ bet out of ‘em. Then again, probably not.

Jim Walker

July 24th, 2009
7:35 pm

I am a great UK fan, but lopve to watch great SEC football and I love to watch Tim Tebo. Every honoral man would love to have a son like Tim and the things he stands for. Keep STANDING TALL, Tim.

Rowdy Roddy Piper

July 24th, 2009
7:40 pm

I’m a Dawg and I truly admire Tebow. The way he carries himself, and isn’t afraid to live his life by faith and humility. All these athletes that are in the news for drugs and aggravated assault etc.. are worshiped, and Tebow is thrown under the bus countless times for living right. It really doesn’t make sense to me. The question should have never been asked. It was classless and ignorant. It is none of his dam business. I wish I could have been there to backhand him. In a way though, I’m glad he did ask it; Tebow answered it without hesitation. That part should be shown everywhere, for all young people to see. If I have ever been a fan of any Gator, it has been Tebow! GO DAWGS!!

Not Impressed

July 24th, 2009
7:45 pm

Enter your comments here

Not Impressed

July 24th, 2009
7:53 pm

Is this football or religion we’re talking about?

They are not the same and I’m offended that so many wish to confused that issue.

Now, as to that question? He’s been asked that many times in the locker room so please stop acting as if it was an affront to humanity.

There are good Christians who are not virgins. Frankly, the research done says that the Tim Tebow’s of the world (U.S.) are more at risk fot contracting STD’s and unwanted pregnancies. So great from him he’s claiming virginity (sorry, I’m cynical), but it is not at all impressive.

And quite frankly, this further convinces me that he will not make it in the pros. Virgins do not lead men into battle whether real, or a game. Maybe he’ll marry and then everyone can relax and the men will respect what is now still a boy.

Not Impressed

July 24th, 2009
8:04 pm

Oh yeah, about this little bit of jock licking:

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

That’s the same stuff people were saying about Reggie Bush not too long ago. He still hasn’t live up to it at the next level.

Here’s a thought. What if Tim Tebow is gay? I wonder how many of y’all would still be saying all of these wonderful, almost divine things about him.

I wonder of Mr. College Football would still stand by that “greatest ever” remark if Tebow turned out to like men?

I’m guessing the answer to both those questions is a resounding “No”!

Thus endeth the lesson.


July 24th, 2009
8:38 pm

Not impressed,

I don’t care if the guy is gay. Frankly, I don’t care if he is a virgin. I don’t care about his race, religion, or anything else. He has principals. He is not afraid to state them and back them up. He has an incredible work ethic and shows a great deal of personal responsibility. Who cares what he may or may not do in the pros? I said it at the end of the season, and I will say it now. Had the dogs had spent time last summer working out and working on personal character the way that Tebow did instead of getting in bar fights and driving drunk, perhaps they would have held on to that number one ranking. Truly great players work at it. From the sound of things, the dogs have learned their lesson.


July 24th, 2009
9:17 pm

What a loser “journalist”.

Tim Tebow is a great man. I wish we had more like him.

David Granger

July 24th, 2009
9:40 pm

ANYBODY’s virginity (or lack thereof) should be out of bounds as a conversation topic unless:
1. They themselves make a point of it.
2. They go out of the way to constantly talk about being a Christian (or any other religion that preaches abstinence).
3. They get accused of raping somebody.


July 24th, 2009
9:45 pm

<————— Loyal Jacket Fan here!!

Tony, you’re a class act. I really think the remark was over the top. The press guy or girl should be ashame. “What does it have to do with football.”

I tease my brother, a loyal Ga Dawg, about Teebow, but this was lower than low. He agrees with me as well.

As usual, I remain, “Ramblin Wreck!”


July 24th, 2009
9:46 pm

Rowdy Roddy Piper,

When are you gonna hit Jimmy ” SuperFly” Snuka with a coconut again. That was ace! LOL.


July 24th, 2009
10:58 pm

Stupid question to ask anyone, end of story. What does this possibly have to to do with football?