FORT LAUDERDALE, Florida -- In a final practice Jan. 30 before the Pro Bowl in South Florida, professional football players from the AFC and NFC joined in backing NFL hopeful Tim Tebow who is set to appear in a pro-life commercial during next Sunday’s Super Bowl.
However, at least three liberal activist groups have pressured CBS and even the NFL to step in and stop the ad from airing, claiming it is offensive to air a politically charged ad during the Super Bowl.
The National Organization for Women and the Feminist Majority Foundation joined with the Women's Media Center to try to force the cancellation of the ad, calling Focus on the Family "an anti-equality, anti-choice, homophobic organization."
Focus on the Family, which made the ad, is an evangelical organization that provides biblical advice on marriage, parenting and other life areas in its products and services.
But Christian players interviewed at the Pro Bowl were supportive of Tebow.
David Garrard, quarterback for the NFL Jacksonville Jaguars, said he appreciates Tebow for standing by his convictions.
“I applaud him for standing up for what he believes,” Garrard said after practice for the Jan. 31 Pro Bowl. “More people, more athletes should do the same.”
The former University of Florida quarterback and Heisman Trophy winner Tebow is well-known for his outspoken Christian testimony and mission trips to the Philippines where his parents have served as missionaries and his father currently heads an evangelistic association.
Colorado-based Focus on the Family said the ad features the theme, “Celebrate Family, Celebrate Life.”
Since the commercial won’t air until Feb. 7, critics and supporters alike, after learning the ad’s theme and that Pam Tebow, Tim’s mom, appears in the ad with him, have assumed it will focus on Pam Tebow’s testimony that she was urged by a doctor to have an abortion after she had a life-threatening illness in the Philippines.
If she had, there would be no Tim Tebow.
Philadelphia Eagles David Akers, one of the NFL’s most reliable kickers, said since he is “definitely pro-life” and has been through the adoption process in his family, he believes strongly in celebrating life.
“They have a life,” Akers said, referring to an unborn child, “and if you take that away, that’s pretty cruel.”
“If you get into the politics of what should and shouldn’t happen, I’m definitely biblically based,” Akers said. “I think that’s creation and we shouldn’t harm it.”
As for a Super Bowl ad supporting a pro-life view, Akers said, “If someone’s paying for it, absolutely.”
“What’s the difference between their opinion on that or someone saying yeah or nay to alcohol,” he asked rhetorically.
Heath Miller, a tight end for the Pittsburgh Steelers and a believer, said he appreciates those who encourage each other in their faith, and that he admires Tebow for his convictions and doesn’t believe anyone will change him.
“I think Tim has every right to use every stage to tell people what he believes,” Miller said, even a commercial during the Super Bowl. “He’s a football player, he can relay what he believes just as much as anyone else can.”
Garrard, also known for his Christian testimony and his involvement in the Jacksonville community where Tebow is from, said he would welcome the young man as a member of the Jaguars.
“I know he would be a good talent doing anything on the team and I know the fans in Jacksonville would just love him,” Garrard said. “I wouldn’t have any problems with him being on the team.”