Before David Beckham strutted his stuff for Armani and for those H&M commercials, there was Boomer Esiason in his tighty whities for Hanes. (Remember that commercial? I sure do!) Before him, there was baseball’s Jim Palmer modeling in “Playgirl”-style poses for Jockey. Not to be outdone, New Zealand rugger Dan Carter also delighted hoards of admirers (most of whom have probably never even seen a rugby game) when he too modeled for Jockey. The latest athlete to sign on as spokesman for the ever-enduring underwear company is 6’3” Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow. Tebow has indeed crossed the yard line from sportsman to pop culture novelty, known not just for his gridiron skills but for his blandly attractive looks, his life story, and his--shall we say, colorful behavior as well. The 24-year old, self-proclaimed “devout Christian” and reported virgin has brought the term “tebowing” (defined as: spontaneously getting on your on his knees to, ahem, pray… regardless of your surroundings.) and the “Tebow Rule” (the prohibition of football guys wearing messages on their eye black, even though that’s not exactly a new law) into our lexicon. His persona has alternately produced admiration for his faith alongside the occasional mocking by comics on late night TV. But back to the undies. Unlike sexy celebs Antonio Sabato Jr. and Mark Wahlberg, Tebow will be the first model with the distinction of NOT showing his underwear in an underwear ad. Some artfully shot photos of a shirtless, gym shorts-clad Tebow with the Jockey waistband showing did make the rounds on the net, and the first widely-seen ads showed the jockstrapper shirtless but this time tossing a football in a field, wearing jeans and with the Jockey waistband again showing. Interestingly, on the Jockey website, our Tim is now fully clothed, choosing to model the tees only. It’s like watching a reverse striptease. There’s no “official” reason for Tebow’s choice of how much (or how little) to show, but Mo Moorman, Public Relations Director for Jockey International, has stated, “Some things are better when left to the imagination.”
Yes, it’s true: Sometimes the essence of sexiness is in what is NOT seen. But I doubt that creativity was the reason for Tebow’s cover-up. It’s more like likely due to his “old-fashioned” values. This is, after all, the guy who is ostensibly waiting for a “good girl” to come along. (Sorry, Kim Kardashian…) In a very twisted way, I tried to see it as a sign of some kind of decades-belated equality between the sexes. Women have had to exploit their sexuality for years in the name of being famous, so if a GUY says “No!“, isn’t that a sign of equal opportunity empowerment? Well, maybe…but when was the last time you saw a commercial or print ad for bras and panties where there were no bras and panties shown? We are talking about UNDERWEAR, after all. Would an ad for socks show a guy wearing shoes over those socks? Judging by his legions of female and gay male admirers, Tebow is indeed a sex symbol… even if he’s a “Oh, gosh“, kind of reluctant one. The larger questions are: Why agree to become a spokesman for a company if your are not gonna show the product you’re selling? And, is there something wrong with being sexy? Perhaps some variations on “Christian values” may be incompatible with sexiness (in the name of “lust”), but is having pride in one‘s body or demonstrating superior physical health antithetical to those values as well? Some have opined that perhaps Jockey is choosing the Tebow ads to better market their undies to those who tend to be in tandem with the celeb’s widely known beliefs (in other words, to those customers would approve the fact that he did NOT drop his pants.) Who knows?
But I’ll put my hormones aside for a minute. Here‘s my opinion, and I am unanimous in that: Childhood and teenage obesity has reached epidemic proportions. Since professional athletes are among our strongest role models for youngsters, the benefits of popular ball players showing their healthy physiques can only be a positive and inspirational thing. But more importantly, Mr. Tebow, here’s the bottom line: Don‘t deprive me of my viewing pleasure! (Uh oh… The hormones are back!)