About a month ago on a local talk show, in a discussion of how disappointed we all were with the current crop of presidential candidates and other politicians, we decided to ramp up the search for somebody new.
Only slightly kidding, I said, “We need somebody like Tim Tebow to get involved in politics at some level.”
OK, so Tebow and I don’t text each other or break bread together, and I’ve not really spoken to him in six years. But when he played for the Florida Gators, I saw him play every game, spoke privately to him several times, attended dozens of news conferences and was sitting six feet away when he made “The Promise.”
To paraphrase the famous quote from Sen. Lloyd Bentsen when he was the running mate of presidential candidate Michael Dukakis, “I know Tim Tebow. Tim Tebow (is kind of) a friend of mine … and Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton are no Tim Tebow.”
We need a fresh, new spirit in Congress and the White House, regardless of party. That same conclusion apparently reached the desk of the Republican Party last week upon announcement that Congressman Ander Crenshaw wasn’t seeking reelection for his U.S. House of Representative seat in Florida’s Fourth District, which incorporates most of Jacksonville and all of Baker and Nassau counties in northeast Florida and is Tebow’s home district.
At the same time, the editors of Red Alert Politics endorsed the idea with an editorial entitled “Tim Tebow for Congress,” in which they wrote: “Talks have circled around a sheriff, a state senator and a mayor (as possible Crenshaw replacements). But politicos have left off the best choice in this district: Tim Tebow.”
And then they added: “If you think we’re joking, we’re not.”
And neither am I. I’ll go them one better — or five better.
Five reasons for Tebow in Congress:
1. He’s an honest man. What a concept! He’d be lonely in Washington, of course. But he oozes integrity. I am reminded of the stories at Florida of the footrace challenges between some of the faster players on the Gators’ football team, when Tebow was asked to judge who won. On one particular night, there was a virtual dead heat, but Tebow declared one a winner. The loser protested, claiming Tebow had lied. “He can’t lie,” the winner said. “He’s Tim Tebow!”
2. Tebow would galvanize the political base and maybe even bring some Democrats over to the other side of the aisle. He crosses many lines. One thing I noticed in the year I spent behind the scenes writing the book “Urban’s Way” and actually strolled behind him in the Gator Walk was that an inordinate number of women 50-plus seemed attracted to him. “That’s because they all have daughters,” my wife surmised, “and would like to see him come to their front door.” I have a sports writer friend who covers another SEC team and his wife became such big Tebow fan that she wore a Tebow No. 15 jersey under her blouse for home games. Call me sexist, but it’s the truth.
3. He was the most popular Gator ever, and has one of the highest profiles in sports history. That profile is built. The marketing would be a piece of cake. And he could draw large crowds just walking into a Starbucks or speaking to a stadium full of young people who might otherwise not be interested in politics.
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4. His devout Christian faith would be an asset, not a liability — even though his pro-life position would be a hot potato in some quarters. He does have a global view of faith, having been born in the Philippines and spearheading a drive for a children’s hospital there. When it comes to the Islamic faith that is difficult for many Americans to understand, Tebow can at least offer some first-hand knowledge that others could not.
5. Everybody close to him that I’ve talked to seems united in their belief that another big stage besides football always has been awaiting Tebow whenever he wanted it. Last week, I asked his old coach Urban Meyer, who once suggested Tebow could return to Florida and coach the Gators one day, if he thought Tebow could succeed at politics. “I think,” Meyer said, “Tim would be good at anything he tried.”
Tebow for Congress? Why not? If Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jesse Ventura can be governors and Al Franken a senator …