Tebow’s Eye Black Kicks Up Controversy

By Nancy Ramsey

Aug 5, 2010 5:26pm

ABC News on Campus reporter Vanessa de la Vina blogs: He’s graduated and moved on to the Denver Broncos, but it seems Heisman-Trophy-winning quarterback Tim Tebow can’t escape the limelight – or controversy – in Gainesville. On the field at the University of Florida, the quarterback made his inspiration clear to anyone who watched him play. At each game, his eye black referenced a Bible passage. Earlier this year, controversy spiked when Tebow and his mother, Pam, were featured in a commercial ad sponsored by Focus on the Family, a conservative religious group, which aired during the Super Bowl. Now the famous Gator grad is in Gainesville’s spotlight again — or rather, his statue is. The University of Florida is constructing three statues to honor each of its Heisman Trophy winners–Tebow, Steve Spurrier (1966), Danny Wuerffel (1996).  The question on people's minds is: Will the statue stay true to life and include Tebow's famous Bible-versed eye black? Response from Florida students, both current and alumni, is mixed.     Tebow fans say the Bible verses are an integral part of who he is.     "I think the statue should have them," said Jaclyn Llorens, a public relations senior at UF. "They are a huge symbol of the person he truly is." UF political science sophomore Scott Kraff said, "I can't remember him any other way. As long as he's been here, he has worn the eye blacks. They're a part of his whole image." But other students think the bible verses are inappropriate for a public university.    "I just don't see the reason to incorporate the verses," said UF anthropology graduate, Danaan Nixon. "We should celebrate the player, not his personal views. If this was the Vatican, then sure, throw the verses up there." “I think if the bible verses were left on, they could be interpreted as intolerant of other religions,” said UF music performance senior, Aaron Safer. “I know Tebow didn’t wear them to be offensive, but some people might take them that way.” With a total of three National Championships, eight Southeastern Conference Championships and three Heisman Trophies, Spurrier, Wuerffel and Tebow brought plenty to the Swamp. Each player will be brought to life in statues to sit outside the Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. The university is working with Tallahassee artist W. Stanley “Sandy” Proctor; the statues are valued at a total of about $550,000. University officials say all the money for the project is coming from private donors. The statues will depict each player as he was remembered in the year he won the Heisman trophy. It has been confirmed that Spurrier and Wuerffel will be captured in mid-throw, but Tebow's statue remains a surprise. The three Gator grads each moved on to their respective professional football careers. Spurrier went on to play for the San Francisco 49ers and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and is currently head coach at the University of South Carolina. Wuerffel played for the New Orleans Saints, Green Bay Packers, Chicago Bears and Washington Redskins. Tebow just signed a five-year contract to play with Denver, and he's already making headlines again by having the best-selling jersey in the entire NFL since being drafted. So will Tebow’s likeness feature the eye black? University officials are quiet on the topic. UF associate athletic director, Chip Howard, says the answer will remain a mystery until the statue’s unveiling next year.


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