- The Washington Times - Monday, July 27, 2009

I do not care if Tim Tebow is a virgin or takes up with a slew of groupies on a regular basis.

That is none of my business. And it is none of your business as well.

To those who say Tebow’s frequent references to Christianity in public forums encouraged the query, I say nonsense.

I do not think anyone ever asked the late Wilt Chamberlain to estimate the number of his conquests. He came out with his oft-referenced 20,000 number in a book, although it is hard to say how he came up with that figure, short of keeping a detailed tally in a tome-like black book.

No journalist would dare ask a hard-partying athlete how many women he was ending up with each night, even if it were obvious that the night-owl lifestyle was hurting his athletic performance.

Imagine the cries of protest if a journalist felt compelled to put the virgin question to a Scripture-quoting female college athlete.

Tebow did not have to answer the question, of course. He could have politely declined and left it at that. But being reticent is not his style.

He uses his popularity in college football to spread the gospel as he sees it. He talks of ministering to prisoners and traveling overseas to perform missionary work. He is almost as likely to discuss his religious beliefs as Florida’s national-championship chances.

Even so, that should not invite a tasteless question, if not a loaded one. If Tebow had declined to answer the question, that would have left him open to the charge of possibly being a hypocrite.

See, it would have been said, maybe he does not practice what he preaches, as if any Christian meets every tenet of his or her faith on a daily basis. Not that those who sometimes fail to measure up to their beliefs are necessarily hypocrites. They are human, which is to say perfectly flawed.

An athlete’s bedroom should be off-limits unless it has a corrosive effect on his career.

That would be Shawn Kemp, the one-time All-Star who could not hold up to the legal badgering posed by the lawyers representing the women of all his children.

That would be Magic Johnson, who retired from the NBA in 1991 after declaring he was HIV positive and a serial womanizer.

Yet nothing in Tebow’s background invited such an intrusive question, which went as follows at SEC media days last week: “Are you saving yourself for marriage?”

To which the ever-gracious Tebow, chuckling, said, “Yes, I am.”

That is Tebow, who is not merely the face of college football because of his talent. He is open, genuine and unflappable around those looking to find flaws in his seemingly fairy-tale existence.

He later added: “I understand that I’m going to get some off-the-wall questions, and this was just another one.”

Outrageous questions used to be limited to Super Bowl week. But now, anyone with a modem, Internet platform and media badge can think up incredibly churlish questions.

Tim, have you ever looked at photographs of women in varying states of undress? Tim, do you think you are the only virgin playing college football today?

An enterprising sort could mine a lot of material with variations of the virgin question, which is why Tebow was whisked away from those looking to make follow-up questions.

Tim, have you always been a virgin? Will that be a requirement of your wife-to-be?

See, once someone goes down this path, nothing is seen as too tasteless.

Tebow handled the moment with aplomb and even joked with his inquisitors to lighten the mood.

Tebow may not be the top-rated NFL prospect at his position. But he is the best there is in college football. And he is a publicist’s dream.

He could give all too many NFL players lessons on how to cope with being under a microscope.

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