SBD/January 2, 2014/Media
ESPN's Hiring Of Tebow Met With Skepticism As Pundits Wonder If He Can Be Critical
Published January 2, 2014
WE GO TOGETHER: SI.com's Richard Deitsch noted ESPN "has pushed a singular mantra when it comes to college football: You can never have too much SEC." The network in similar fashion "has ridden news surrounding Tim Tebow with a Justin Bieber-like fervor." Now, these "two forces have come together, and it should make for an interesting ride." The initial question is "how successful will Tebow be as an analyst." He is one of the "most popular (and likeable) athletes in the country, and he'll no doubt work hard to learn the craft." Still, his "opinions on football have mostly been vanilla" (SI.com, 12/30). Deitsch, following the Tebow conference call, wrote, "For those seeking an instant broadcasting take, Tebow is a super-nice kid, stays on script like Daniel Day-Lewis and will not be a critical analyst in any shape or form, at least not initially" (SI.com, 12/31).
WORK IN PROGRESS: SPORTS ON EARTH's Colin McGowan wrote Tebow "could have been an NFL washout with Frankenstein mechanics, but Bristol chose to make him a star." However, it is "hard to imagine him being good at his new job." His "lack of substance will be laid bare, in the same way someone like Mike Ditka’s mystique dissipated once he had to speak into a camera." Tebow "won’t fall so hard, because he does seem like a pleasant guy." His "strong takes on fun and teamwork will add little to whatever broadcast he’s on, but he will be Tim Tebow, and, terrifyingly, discouragingly, that might be enough" (SPORTSONEARTH.com, 12/31). PRO FOOTBALL TALK's Michael David Smith wrote, "Realistically, it’s unlikely that Tebow will be in the NFL next year, so it’s good news for him that he now has another way to make a living." Tebow’s public statements "tend to be bland and free of controversy, which wouldn’t seem to make him a good fit as a TV commentator, but his following is big enough that he’ll immediately become one of ESPN’s most popular on-air personalities" (PROFOOTBALLTALK.com, 12/30). CANADA.com's Rob Brodie wrote, "Not surprisingly, the news was greeted with a certain level of cynicism among those who a) wonder if good guy Tebow will ever have it in him to be critical as a broadcaster and b) aren’t the least bit surprised that ESPN -- which has worshipped at the altar of Tebow for years -- would now try to turn him into a TV star" (CANADA.com, 12/30). In Florida, David Jones wrote, "I'm not so sure this was a great idea." The SEC already is "the smug, rich kid. ... Now this?" (FLORIDA TODAY, 1/1).
TWITTER REAX: CBS Sports' Bruce Feldman wrote, "Curious how Tebow will do on TV. He's certainly comfortable in his own skin & in Joe Tess, he couldn't ask for a better TV teammate." The Birmingham News' Jon Solomon: "One unpleasant option: ESPN turns Tebow-Finebaum into good-cop, bad-cop routine mirroring Holtz and May." Solomon added, "Tebow is a natural fit for SEC Network's goal: Get viewers. Will be interesting to see if he will offer critical analysis." LPGA Chief Communications Officer Kraig Kann wrote, "Love him or not, #Tebow guarantees ratings, relevance for @SECNetwork. A masterful hire." The N.Y. Post's Bart Hubbuch: "On a serious note, I'm not sure what ESPN thinks it's getting with Tebow. Nicest guy you could meet, but he's a terrible interview. Woeful." The AP's Ralph Russo wrote, "Tebow and SEC Network. The perfect marriage. Mazel Tov to the happy couple." USA Today's Dan Wolken: "My question on Tebow as an analyst: Will he be critical? If he's willing to do that he could be good."