As one of the most hyped quarterbacks ever, Tim Tebow has a lot of crosses to bear — and he makes a fine target, as well. Before the Denver Broncos took on the New England Patriots last weekend, www.change.org reminded people of a petition started by a local man, Andy Szekeres, asking the Broncos to make a video for "It Gets Better," Dan Savage's anti-bullying campaign created after a rash of gay teen suicides. The Philadelphia Phillies, Tampa Bay Rays, Seattle Mariners, Seattle Seahawks, Baltimore Orioles, Boston Red Sox, Chicago Cubs and San Francisco Giants have all made It Gets Better videos. But so far, not the Broncos.
The Broncos' signing drive was kicked off in September, right before the football season started (Off Limits, September 8), but until last week had garnered only a few hundred signatures. By Friday, it was up to 4,000, and by the end of Monday, it had collected more than 7,850 names. "They did an e-mail to all of their Colorado addresses for anyone who had ever signed a previous petition," Szekeres, who is also a partner in the political consulting and fundraising firm 3PG, says of www.change.org. "They only expected to get to a thousand, but it has really taken off. Thank you, Tim Tebow."
Tebow has been tied to Focus on the Family in Colorado Springs because of an ad that he and his mother did for the conservative religious organization that ran during the 2010 Super Bowl. Focus is strongly anti-gay, so the petition took on a special significance.
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Szekeres is sure that the Broncos hate him at this point, however, because every time someone signs the petition, www.change.org sends an e-mail to nine people, including team owner Pat Bowlen, vice president of operations John Elway, general manager Brian Xanders, president Joe Ellis, senior marketing manager Sandy Young, manager of fan development Bobby Mestas, and even cheerleading director Teresa Shear.
"I think they should respond," he says. "At first there were a lot of people from around the country who were signing, but now it is a lot of Colorado folks who are probably also Broncos fans. From their rising prominence, it's getting better for the Broncos, so it should get better for kids, too."
A media spokeswoman for the Broncos didn't respond to an interview request from Westword and hasn't contacted Szekeres, either.
If the team does make a video, though, Szekeres says he'll personally teach gay kids everywhere how to start Tebowing.