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Heisman winner declines spot in Playboy lineup



Gearing up for his junior year at the University of Florida, Heisman-winning quarterback Tim Tebow is one of the faces of college football. However, the member of First Baptist Jacksonville, Fla., is a noticeable omission from this year’s Playboy’s pre-season All-American team.

(RNS) One year after winning college football’s highest honor, University of Florida star Tim Tebow was pulled from consideration for Playboy’s pre-season All-American team because the magazine conflicts with his Christian beliefs, a school official confirmed.

Tebow, who last year became the first sophomore to win the Heisman Trophy, comes from a family of missionaries and is a member of First Baptist Church in Jacksonville, Fla. Assistant Sports Information Director Zack Higbee said he chose not to nominate his quarterback for the Playboy spread based on what he knew about Tebow’s spirituality.

“I’ve been working with Tim since his first day here and I know his priorities and his family,” Higbee said. “He has that trust in me to make the decision.”

As a teenager, the home-schooled Tebow made annual trips to the Philippines, where his father, a minister, runs an orphanage. This year, he went on separate missions to the Philippines, Croatia, and Thailand. Tebow’s sister, Christy, serves with her husband Joey as a missionary through the International Mission Board. Joey Allen’s father, Joe, serves as pastor of First Baptist Church in Cairo.

Higbee said Tebow supported the move when told of it this month. Playboy Sports Editor Gary Cole downplayed the university’s decision, however, and said that Tebow would not have made the team anyway.

Tebow, 20, is not the first high-profile college athlete to reject Playboy for religious reasons. Danny Wuerffel, another Heisman-winning Gator and a childhood idol of Tebow’s, turned down a spot on the team in 1996. Georgia Tech senior Andrew Gardner made the cut for this year’s team but declined the award.

“Every two or three years, we might get someone who says ‘I don’t want to be on there’ or ‘my wife doesn’t want me to go’ or ‘my girlfriend doesn’t want me to go,’ or ‘because it doesn’t it fit with my personal religious viewpoints,’” said Cole, who has selected the team for the last 22 years. “And that’s fine with us. We understand.”

While many Division-I schools have religious affiliations, Cole said that only the University of Notre Dame has a policy against the Playboy team. The Catholic university explicitly prohibits athletes from posing for the magazine’s photo-spread and attending Playboy’s weekend ceremony.