Friends, I'm going to make a confession: This Super Bowl ad situation has me wearied. Not unsurprisingly, it has brought out a lot -- A LOT -- of opinion, from people on either side and from plenty of sportswriters, political writers, op-ed columnists... almost everyone.
And -- a lot like the issue itself -- there is a fair amount of intractability. We all have our individual opinions -- what I personally have tried to do is see it from multiple angles and at least try to understand everyone's position. That's how I've worked through it.
I've written about it here a few times -- most notably, here and here -- any more than that would have really worked me over. I was one of the first to spot this as an issue, more than a month ago. I should have seen the last two weeks' craziness coming.
I can't say I will be bummed when we get to next week and everyone moves on. (Although I'm quite sure it will be an issue Monday morning, when the dominant topic at the water cooler will be: "So what did you think of the Tebow ad?")
I do think there are a couple of bigger points I have tried to make and will reiterate here. And, barring something crazy, I think it will be the last I write about it until Sunday night when the ad actually runs.
*That Tebow would do this ad should surprise no one; it is entirely consistent with his values and priorities.
*That CBS would run the ad DID surprise. (Remember my first reaction? "CBS will NEVER run this ad." Yes: WRONG.)
*But it indicates that the ad's message will be notably soft-pedaled. Otherwise, CBS wouldn't have accepted it. And, I suspect, that if it was particularly strident, Tebow himself would not have agreed to star in it. He wants to promote his views, but not torch the boats.)
*This is the ultimate manifestation of Tim and the Tebow family's interest in influence: From "John 3:16" dominating Google during the 2008 national title game to what may turn out to be the most-watched show in the history of television.
*The discussion of the ad -- let alone the NFL stuff -- over the past two weeks (and culminating Sunday night) has vaulted Tebow into an elite group of the most well-known athletes. Before, he was college football's biggest rock star. Now, he is one of the biggest rock stars in sports, period.
*People who didn't know very much about Tebow have reacted to the ad based on their own feelings about abortion or about Focus on the Family or about having an advocacy ad run during the Super Bowl.
*People who were already Tebow fans and don't necessarily agree with his values or beliefs reconciled that a long time ago, perhaps having a bit more of a nuanced view of all of it than the folks in the group above, just learning about him.
*I do not think that doing this ad will impact Tebow's mainstream marketing potential at all. I think he will still get his sports-drink deal, his shoe deal, his video-game deal, his soft-drink deal, his home-improvement-store deal... whatever.
In fact, that he is getting his own TV ad in front of 120 million U.S. consumers will only improve his Q rating and make him MORE marketable -- even if some small percent of those millions don't like his message. The fact is, a huge percent of those millions DO like his message, and will like him more for it -- and respect his product endorsement more for it. And even the ones that don't like his message still drink Gatorade and wear Nikes.
*Finally, because I believe that CBS would never have accepted the ad had it been at all strident in message, tone or form, I think that while everyone will anxiously await the ad during the 1st quarter of the broadcast -- it will get more of a "SHHHH!" as it starts than any other ad at your viewing party -- the general reaction afterward will be something along the lines of "What was all the fuss about?"
(We can get into the idea that the fuss was about Focus on the Family's unadvertised, more strident positions or that CBS would accept an advocacy ad, but the ad itself will necessarily be muted -- as a result, so will fans' reaction to it.)
But there's no question: I am tired of the subject. I have read virtually every column that has been written about this -- from mainstream newspapers to fringe blogs, from ESPN.com to evangelical Web sites -- and I'm ready for the ad to run and the "Tebow Super Bowl Ad" issue to move behind us.
I probably should have made this blog a hub of all things Tebow Super Bowl Ad, sort of like the way I have tried to make it a hub for his senior year or his larger college football legacy or his NFL prospects. But the issue at hand... it's a tough one to try to be THE source that makes sense of it all. There is no unifying theory -- perhaps those knowable "truths" I listed above.
Expect coverage on Sunday night when the ad airs -- I'll certainly be monitoring Twitter and blogs for immediate reaction, and we will dig into the media and consumer reaction as it comes in overnight and into Monday morning.
But enjoy the game.