College Star Tebow Tackles Abortion in Ad

Tim Tebow in 2009.
AP
A good number of Americans watch the Super Bowl every year for the commercials, as much as for the game. That's why, this year, an advocacy group has teamed up with one of college football's biggest stars for a controversial new ad, as CBS News correspondent Nancy Cordes reports.

College superstar Tim Tebow is known for two things: his record- breaking play, and the bible verses he wears on his cheeks during games.

But it's his decision to tackle the abortion issue that's under the bright lights now.

In a new ad set to air on CBS during the Super Bowl, Tebow talks about his mother's choice to give birth to him despite doctor's concerns for her health.

"I think it's a great opportunity to show something - a very happy and a special story," Tebow said today.

Special Section: The 2010 Super Bowl

The ad, which is still under wraps, does not explicitly condemn abortion. But that hasn't stopped women's rights groups from demanding in a letter that CBS pull it.

"CBS and the NFL need to listen to the 40 percent of Super Bowl viewers that are women and scrap this ad," said Jehmu Greene of the Women's Media Center.

More coverage:

Hotsheet: Palin Weighs in on Tebow Ad
Jan Crawford: Tebow Ad: No Debate on Abortion
CBS Open to More Super Bowl Advocacy Ads
Tebow Super Bowl Ad Stirs Abortion Uproar

For years, CBS did not accept issue advocacy ads in primetime. An ad from the United Church of Christ was rejected for the 2004 Super Bowl.

But CBS recently reversed its policy - now allowing ads for and against health care reform, for and against clean energy.

"In fact, most media outlets have accepted advocacy ads for some time," CBS said in a statement.

But this is the first time a divisive issue like abortion will be explored during the Super Bowl.

"Do they really want an important message like that trivialized between dancing monkeys and farting horses, which is what people have come to expect of the advertising?" asked Adweek critic Barbara Lippert.

The Tebow ad was produced by the evangelical group Focus on the Family, which spent at least $2.5 million dollars on the 30-second spot even after laying off 275 people since 2008.

"From our perspective this money is a good investment that allows us to put before the American people who we are and what we stand for. And what we really stand for is being a family help organization," said Gary Schneeberger, a Focus on the Family spokesman.

And while the ad may not be the kind of Super Bowl debut Tebow has in mind for his future - it's exactly what is on his mind now.

  • Ken Millstone

    Ken Millstone is an assignment editor at CBSNews.com