Welcome to the real world where sharks await

Published: Friday, January 29, 2010 at 8:55 p.m.
Last Modified: Friday, January 29, 2010 at 8:55 p.m.

Oh, Timmy, Timmy, Timmy.

You had to leave the cocoon, didn't you? It was inevitable that after four years you would have to go from the warm blanket of the Gator Nation into the real world.

And now you are finding out what it's all about.

In college, they gushed. The talking heads were your buddies and your cheerleaders. The ink-stained wretches of the print media wrote about your exploits with new-found adjectives.

There was some hate, but it was more envy than anything else. Even opposing fans admired you, wanted their daughters to marry you and their sons to be like you.

But you had to leave and step into shark-infested waters, the ones that have chewed up athletes before and spit their bones out onto the shore.

They only needed you to drop your first snap before they pounced. The geniuses who projected greats like Ryan Leaf and JaMarcus Russell as no-brainer high draft picks think teams should pass on you.

It's as if you never won all of those games in college, as if those highlights have been erased from memory. Is this Senior Moment Bowl week?

On top of all the scrutiny you are facing (and dealing with admirably as always) is this controversy over the commercial that will air during the Super Bowl. Focus on the Family is paying for it, and it's being blasted before anybody has seen it. But the speculation is that it will be anti-abortion because of the circumstances of your birth. How dare you escape from the womb and talk about it during the Super Bowl? That's a national holiday.

On Fanhouse.com, noted columnist Jay Mariotti wrote this: "There is a time and a place for serious crusades about life issues. A commercial during the NFL's championship game, our national holiday of fun and frolic and heavy drinking and heavier gambling, is not one of them."

What are you thinking, Timmy? We want talking dogs and beer commercials and half-naked women on our Super Bowl commercials. Heck, we've got a pool going for the first commercial that references "Pants on the Ground." (My bet is it will involve Greg Oden).

Mariotti, a founder of the look-at-me journalism, isn't alone. The columnists who haven't criticized your throwing motion are ripping you for daring to intrude on their sacred day. Joy Behar from "The View" even got embroiled in the controversy. I didn't know it was still on either.

She questioned the theory that your mother's decision worked out so wonderfully so there should be no abortions. "The only argument against any of it is, that, you know, he could just as easily become some kind of a rapist pedophile," she said. "I mean, you don't know what someone's going to be."

Sarah Palin even weighed in on the controversy. Apparently, she can see your poor footwork from her backyard.

And there are pro-choice advocates demanding that CBS not accept the commercial. Quite a debate you've stirred up, Timmy. Remember when the biggest controversy was whether or not you should play two weeks after a concussion?

Me? Timmy, you and I can talk sometime about how I feel about the issue but mine is not a political column. I'd prefer not to have to explain during the Super Bowl to my 8 year old what an abortion is, but I understand why you are so passionate about it. And I've always admired that you don't back down from your convictions.

Is the Super Bowl an inappropriate venue for this commercial? No, "SpongeBob SquarePants" would be inappropriate. The group paying for the commercial is smart to take advantage of CBS, which is so desperate for ad revenue it would give 30 seconds to a group advocating seal clubbing if it came up with the $3 million.

This is your new platform, Timmy, and it's a lot more unstable than the one you left back here in Gainesville. Snipers are everywhere and someone is always trying to cut the power to the microphone.

But you'll deal with it. Because that's what you do.

Now, about your throwing motion.

Contact Pat Dooley at 352-374-5053 or at dooleyp@gvillesun.com.

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