New York Jets backup quarterback Tim Tebow is without a doubt the most famous and well-known player in the NFL. Yet opinions of his actual abilities as a quarterback range from average to below average to the bottom of the league. How did this happen?
Several media outlets consistently have front pages littered with Tebow news, despite the fact that he has not played much football this season. ESPN notoriously celebrated his birthday.
Doug Gottlieb—a former radio host for ESPN—admitted that this bias was neither natural nor random. It was a corporate mandate. Said Gottlieb:
I was told specifically, "You can't talk enough Tebow." I would jokingly throw it into a segment. I gotta find 15 seconds here to talk about Tebow, all right let's move on and talk about Major League Baseball.
One of the strangest parts of the Tebow phenomenon is that it has been arranged—intentionally or otherwise—so that there is always Tebow-related news. If he plays, it's news. If he sits, it's news. If he plays well, it's news. If he plays poorly, it's news.
ESPN is far from being the only offender in this area, although it is perhaps the most prominent. Gottlieb further claimed:
Is it ridiculous how much you have to talk about Tebow? Yeah! But for whatever reason people can't get enough of that story, and they kind of stoke the fire—that's kind of what ESPN does.
Tebow remains a top story in NFL news for both ESPN and other media outlets. With a large corporation fueling the fire, one has to wonder how long Tebow will have to do nothing before his face can finally leave the front pages.