Rabbi apologizes to Tebow over column

A rabbi has apologized for going too far in a column expressing fear that continued success by Tim Tebow might lead to a spree of religion-fueled hate crimes.

Rabbi Joshua Hammerman issued the apology to the Denver Broncos quarterback after his column briefly appeared on the website of The Jewish Week on Wednesday. Editors deleted the column shortly after it was posted, acknowledging the work was “more inciting than insightful.”

Hammerman’s column had noted that the beliefs of Tebow, an Evangelical Christian, have become part of the national conversation as the quarterback has led his team to seven wins in eight games heading into an anticipated NFL matchup Sunday with the New England Patriots.

“When you combine the religion that is football with the religion that is religion, the mix can be dangerously flammable,” Hammerman wrote. “The NFL ratings rise has been fueled in part by Tebow’s legions of faithful followers, as well as by those simply curious to see how this implausible morality tale plays out.”

Hammerman’s vision for what might happen should the Broncos roll to a victory in Super Bowl XLVI, included speculation Tebow’s “emboldened faithful can do insane things, like burning mosques, bashing gays and indiscriminately banishing immigrants. While America has become more inclusive since Jerry Falwell’s first political forays, a Tebow triumph could set those efforts back considerably.”

That proved too much for editors at The Jewish Week, an independent publication in the New York City area.

“The column, in fact, violated our own standards calling for civility in posting comments on our website,” their apology said, noting that its policy is clear that "name-calling in any form will not be tolerated, and comments that denigrate any religion or Jewish religious stream will always be rejected."

Said Hammerman: " I realize the way in which I attempted to make my points was clumsy and inappropriate, calling to mind the kind of intolerance and extremism my article was intended to disparage. I sincerely apologize to Mr. Tebow, his family, the Broncos and Patriots and all those whom I may have offended."