It may be only a matter of time before Tim Tebow's sustained reputation as the NFL's "good guy" runs smack into his growing chops as an underwear model, like some unfortunate tailback trying to run through a hulking defensive lineman. But don't count on that happening any time soon.
For now, as he readies for the next buzz-worthy chapter in his short but colorful professional-football career and practices for his first season with the New York Jets, Tebow and his most notable corporate sponsor, Jockey International, are trying to have it both ways.
In previous campaigns, they have been fully willing to flaunt his considerable physique to ply Jockey underwear. But the star and the brand have been careful not to do so in ways that would undermine Tebow's devotion to personal chastity and his Christian faith.
That was the case again when Jockey asked Tebow to kick off its "Hot City Cool Down" campaign at a fashion show in Orlando. Tebow, dressed in a Jockey t-shirt and jeans, emceed the affair while male and female models showed off Jockey undergarments — and he left the modeling to the professionals.
"I did get a little nervous about it," he told People about the runway presentation, "because I cared how the show would turn out. I wanted it to go well, and I didn't want to let anyone down. I wanted to do a good job."
The event also celebrated Jockey's "staycool" line of underwear that regulates skin temperature. The show was streamed live on Jockey's Facebook page and promoted with the Twitter hashtag #staycool. Tebow also added his good-guy persona to other events for Jockey, including a visit to MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa for a tribute to military members.
Jockey isn't the only brand gearing up its association with Tebow. Another original sponsor of the quarterback, from his first year in the NFL, FRS beverages, is launching a campaign around him this fall. And in just another hint of the rising media maelstrom that will continue to envelope him, E! Entertainment plans a special on Tebow, Tim Tebow's Wild Rise, for July 2.
Meantime, Tebow also is applying his personal brand where he genuinely seems most comfortable — toward volunteer efforts like his appearance at a youth football camp in Virginia this week.
"If you're not a fan of Tim Tebow, something's wrong with you," said another counselor at the camp, Larry Fitzgerald, a star receiver with the Arizona Cardinals, in a typical evaluation of those who actually know the new Jets quarterback. "If you spend any time with the guy, he's a kid that parents would want their kid to be like. He's the kind of guy that you want your daughter to marry. We need more people like him, not just athletes."