Rick Reilly vs. Harvey Araton on Tim Tebow: Where One Sees Complete Selflessness, the Other Sees a 'Sideshow'

Clay Waters at NewsBusters and the Media Research Center did a great job Monday of exposing the ugly, vindictive, know-it-all and snotty write-up on Tim Tebow generated by Harvey Araton at the New York Times after Tebow's Denver Broncos were unceremoniously eliminated from the NFL playoffs on Saturday by the New England Patriots.

Perhaps the most offensive element of Araton's work was its headline: "Curtain Closes on Tebow’s Season, but His Sideshow Goes On." It is more than clear from Araton's text and tone that he considers Tebow's pre- and post-game charitable activities part of that "sideshow." Apparently, a New York Times sportswriter believes he is in a better position than team executives, Coach John Fox, and Tebow himself to decide what is and isn't a distraction from team unity and focus. To show that Araton's twisted outlook isn't universally shared among sportswriters, I give you excerpts from Rick Reilly's outstanding Friday column at ESPN, which I selected as a Positivity Post at my home blog on Sunday:

I've come to believe in Tim Tebow, but not for what he does on a football field, which is still three parts Dr. Jekyll and two parts Mr. Hyde.

No, I've come to believe in Tim Tebow for what he does off a football field, which is represent the best parts of us, the parts I want to be and so rarely am.

Who among us is this selfless?

Every week, Tebow picks out someone who is suffering, or who is dying, or who is injured. He flies these people and their families to the Broncos game, rents them a car, puts them up in a nice hotel, buys them dinner (usually at a Dave & Buster's), gets them and their families pregame passes, visits with them just before kickoff (!), gets them 30-yard-line tickets down low, visits with them after the game (sometimes for an hour), has them walk him to his car, and sends them off with a basket of gifts.

Home or road, win or lose, hero or goat.

Remember last week, when the world was pulling its hair out in the hour after Tebow had stunned the Pittsburgh Steelers with an 80-yard OT touchdown pass to Demaryius Thomas in the playoffs? And Twitter was exploding with 9,420 tweets about Tebow per second? When an ESPN poll was naming him the most popular athlete in America?

Tebow was spending that hour talking to 16-year-old Bailey Knaub about her 73 surgeries so far and what TV shows she likes.

"Here he'd just played the game of his life," recalls Bailey's mother, Kathy, of Loveland, Colo., "and the first thing he does after his press conference is come find Bailey and ask, 'Did you get anything to eat?' He acted like what he'd just done wasn't anything, like it was all about Bailey."

... There's not an ounce of artifice or phoniness or Hollywood in this kid Tebow, and I've looked everywhere for it.

Read the whole thing.

For Harvey Araton's benefit (not that he will benefit), here's Tebow's response when asked about whether all of this is a huge distraction: "Just the opposite. It's by far the best thing I do to get myself ready. Here you are, about to play a game that the world says is the most important thing in the world. Win and they praise you. Lose and they crush you. And here I have a chance to talk to the coolest, most courageous people. It puts it all into perspective. The game doesn't really matter. I mean, I'll give 100 percent of my heart to win it, but in the end, the thing I most want to do is not win championships or make a lot of money, it's to invest in people's lives, to make a difference."

Longtime Reilly readers know that he leans left and sometimes aims unwarranted snark darts. But there's a reason why Rick Reilly has been named Sportswriter of the Year eleven times, while Araton, whose bio indicates that he once might have been pretty good, toils with apparent bitterness at a shrinking yet insufferably self-important publication which has mocked its own motto ("All the news that's fit to print") for well over a half-century.

Reilly can recognize authenticity and someone with a well-ordered sense of perspective. Sadly, blinded by something (others can speculate as to what), Harvey Araton has seemingly become so jaded that he can't recognize either when it's right in front of his face.

Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.

Culture/Society Media Bias Debate Labeling Religion Anti-Religious Bias Sports Sports Media ESPN Major Newspapers New York Times Rick Reilly Harvey Araton Tim Tebow

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