While Tuesday's NBC Today began by heralding gay NBA player Jason Collins as "a towering figure on the court" and in "sports history," later in the 7 a.m. ET hour, correspondent Craig Melvin regarded NFL quarterback Tim Tebow as an athlete who's "play never really matched the hype" and someone who became "spoof-worthy" due to his "well-publicized faith."
A clip played of Late Night host Jimmy Fallon mocking Tebow with a parody song set to David Bowie's "Ground Control to Major Tom": "Tim Tebow to Jesus Christ." Melvin followed: "On the field, Tebow struggled. His only season as a Jet, lackluster....His football future is uncertain. But Tebow could still cash-in on his carefully cultivated persona."
A quick look at Collins's career stats doesn't exactly show him to a top player in the NBA, only averaging three points per game. Yet the phrase "lackluster" never appeared in the coverage of him coming out.
Here is a full transcript of Melvin's April 30 report on Tebow being released from the New York Jets:
7:31AM ET TEASE:
MATT LAUER: Could it be the end of Tim Tebow's football career? The popular player is pondering his future this morning after being released by the New York Jets. We're going to look at where Tebow-mania goes from here.
7:36AM ET SEGMENT:
MATT LAUER: Tim Tebow is one of the NFL's most popular players, but this morning he finds himself without a team. So what's next for him? NBC's Craig Melvin is here with more on that. Craig, good morning.
[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: Tim Tebow's NFL Future Uncertain After Release by NY Jets; QB's Hail Mary Chances?]
CRAIG MELVIN: Matt, good morning to you. You know, Tim Tebow's play never really matched the hype. And this morning, after just one season with the Jets, he's waking up out of a job and wondering where he will land next. There's a chance he won't play in the NFL again, but he certainly will not be leaving the spotlight any time soon.
Tim Tebow's on-field praying sparked a phenomenon known as Tebowing. Not surprising then, that his only response to getting sacked, quoting the Bible in a Twitter post: "Proverbs 3. Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him and he will make your path straight."
When he came to the New York Jets last year, Tebow's first press conference got the kind of attention usually reserved for Super Bowl MVPs.
TIM TEBOW: Well, you know, it's an honor for all of you to show up to hear me say a few words today.
MELVIN: Commercials, billboards, and talk. He'd be the most famous New York athlete since Broadway Joe himself.
TEBOW: Thanks for the support, Jockey.
MELVIN: Hordes of fans flocked to see him, many drawn to the 25-year-old's well-publicized faith. He transcended the sport and became spoof-worthy on late night TV.
JIMMY FALLON [SINGING]: Tim Tebow to Jesus Christ.
MELVIN: But on the field, Tebow struggled. His only season as a Jet, lackluster. In a short statement, head coach Rex Ryan said, "We have a great deal of respect for Tim Tebow. Unfortunately, things did not work out the way we all had hoped. We wish him the best moving forward."
MIKE FLORIO [PROFOOTBALLTALK.COM]: If he wants to play quarterback and actually play in games, not be a backup, he needs to look at other leagues. If he wants to play in the NFL, he needs to think seriously about giving up his desire to play quarterback and adopt some other role.
MELVIN: His football future is uncertain. But Tebow could still cash-in on his carefully cultivated persona.
ALICIA QUARLES [E! NEWS CORRESPONDENT]: The Tebow brand will definitely last without having the NFL behind it. You could definitely see him being a sports announcer. You could see him talking about religion. And possibly writing a book, because he's had an interesting life.
MELVIN: As Tebow gets ready to start a new chapter, fans and followers wait to see what's next from the player known just as much for his faith as playing football.
So now Tebow is on what the NFL calls waivers, that means other teams can claim him. If that does not happen, he will become a free agent, Matt. There's already some talk that there's a team in Canada that's expressed interest.
LAUER: It's just hard to imagine what's happened in one year.
LAUER: After that arrival here in New York. Alright, Craig.
MELVIN: A lackluster year to say the least.
LAUER: No question. Craig, thanks very much.