TEBOW’S CHOICE: Tim Tebow loves his fashion magazines. But fashion magazines that might actually know a thing or two about football and employ knowledgeable sports writers? Apparently, not so much.
Just ask Vogue and GQ.
This story first appeared in the September 24, 2012 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
In the spring, GQ pitched the quarterback its September cover. Tebow was coming off an odds-defying and endlessly scrutinized season with the Denver Broncos and speculation was high about his future.
The magazine’s most high-profile issue of the year would cast the spotlight back on him just as he was to start a new season, somewhere. In September 2011, GQ had offered a similar package to Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez, declaring him “the bright new face of the NFL.”
But while Tebow eventually appeared on the September cover, which he split with the Carolina Panthers’ Cam Newton, he did not pose for new photos and declined an interview. For the four-page story, articles editor Devin Gordon had to settle for the Jets media day, when he was granted a single, miserly query. For art, the magazine used a 2009 shoot by Mark Selinger.
It’s possible Tebow initially agreed to an interview and shoot and then backed out — it’s unlikely a major magazine would resort to three-year-old pictures for a September cover unless a subject backed out at the last minute. GQ declined comment on its negotiation with him. The Jets did not return phone calls Friday.
But GQ wasn’t the only one pitching for Tebow. In March, after the quarterback had been traded, Vogue also came calling, not for a cover, but with an offer to be shot by Annie Leibovitz for a spread inside the magazine. In addition, the title extended an invitation to the Costume Institute Gala at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, which Vogue editor in chief Anna Wintour co-chairs.
This time, Tebow accepted — ostensibly for reasons greater than talking men’s fashion, women and football. A Vogue spokeswoman explained: “It was important to him to reach the right audience to shine a light on his foundation and encourage people to help others.”
In July, Leibovitz shot Tebow moving a giant truck tire at the Gibraltar Rock quarry in Belle Mead, N.J. The four-and-a-half-page story, by Taylor Antrim, breathlessly describes him as both “a miracle worker” and “Superman” (although, so far, not for the Jets in either case).
Not that GQ is complaining too much. Even with an old photo, the September issue has delivered for the title — it’s the image the magazine is now using on subscription ads. “We were happy with our Tebow cover story and hope to work with him again in the future,” a spokesman said. The Audit Bureau of Circulations did not have newsstand sales for the September issue yet.
But Vogue doesn’t exactly have a great track record when it comes to male athletes in the magazine. Newsstand figures are available for the magazine’s June issue, which had another male athlete, Ryan Lochte, on the cover. It was all part of the hype surrounding Lochte as the breakout star of the London Olympics who would smoke Michael Phelps in the pool. According to revised figures from ABC’s Rapid Report, the Lochte cover was Vogue’s third-weakest performer of the year so far, moving around 111,000 copies, down about 14 percent from last year. And Lochte won five medals to Phelps’ six.