On Friday, former University of Florida and NFL quarterback Time Tebow argued that college student-athletes should not profit from advertisements of their likeness and jersey sales in order to preserve the team-over-individual atmosphere and to avoid wealthier colleges having unfair advantages in racking up talent.
Following the ESPN segment, Tebow was quickly slammed for his “privilege” by professional players and sports commentators.
“I feel like I have a little bit of credibility and knowledge about this because when I was at the University of Florida, my jersey was one of the top-selling jerseys around the world … It was like Kobe [Bryant], LeBron [James] … and I was right behind them,” argued Tebow, according to Fox Business.
“And I didn’t make a dollar from it, but nor did I want to,” the former Denver Bronco and Heisman Trophy winner continued. “Because I knew going into college, what it was all about. I knew going to Florida, going to my dream school, where I wanted to – the passion for it. If I could support my team, support my college, support my university – that’s what it is all about.”
“Now we’re changing it from us, from we, from my university, from being an alumni where I care which makes college football and college sports special,” he said.
“To then [change that mentality to] okay, it’s not about us, it’s not about we. It’s just about me. And yes, I know we live in a selfish culture where it is all about us, but we’re just adding and piling on to that, where it changes what is special about college football and we’re turning into the NFL where who has the most money, that’s where you go,” Tebow concluded.
Though ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith agreed that Tebow made a sound argument, folks online slammed the athlete for coming from a supposed place of “privilege.”
“You trippin Tim Tebow,” wrote former Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Desmond Bryant in a tweet captioning a statement.
“I have to disagree,” the statement said. “I’m going to passionately express this as a person coming from experience … The majority of these kids come from poverty. Trust me, it’s not all about ‘me, me, me, me’ for many of them … it’s about putting food on the table in broken homes.”
“What [percentage] of college athletes actually play at the professional level?” he asked, adding in a hashtag: “different circumstance [first] generation college students.”
In a follow-up tweet, Bryant told Tebow this was a “learning session” for him, and took a shot as his apparent “privilege.”
“Not to mention the multitude of opportunities un-evenly handed out to certain players because of privilege,” the former Cowboy said.
Bryant noted that he doesn’t have a relationship with his father’s side of the family and that his dad is not even named on his birth certificate. “I’m not coming at you,” he wrote, “I still love what you as a player and who you are but I want you to know the other half … your opinions are very singular.”
CBS Sports’ Chris Towers knocked Tebow: “It is perhaps worth noting that Tim Tebow left football and, with no experience as a broadcaster, immediately was put into high-profile, well-paying spots on TV,” he wrote. “He was then allowed to play professional baseball basically because he wanted to. That context seems relevant.”
“Tim Tebow stop with the BS,” posted former NBA player Kendrick Perkins. “Nobody trying to hear that when you got College coaches making 9-10 million a year for a decade and Universities making Millions [off] players! #Paytheathletes.”
Perkins went straight from high school to the NBA.
While Tebow indeed was privileged to grow up in a loving, two-parent home, by all accounts, he did not grow up in great affluence. His parents moved to the Philippines in 1985, before Tebow was born, and built a ministry to help those in need and spread the word of God. The athlete himself lives a life of great philanthropy even now. He has two foundations, CURE and the Tebow Foundation, working with sick and special needs children.