College football star Tim Tebow and his mother Pamela in a Focus on the Family advertisement that ran during the Super Bowl and generated controversy.

We know that Drew Brees quarterbacked the New Orleans Saints to a Super Bowl victory over the Indianapolis Colts and was named the game’s most valuable player. But there was another quarterback who, on that same day, earned an MVP award for what he did off the field, during the telecast of the game.

Tim Tebow is, in the parlance of football aficionados, “arguably” the best football player in college history. He is the first to win the coveted Heisman Trophy as an undergraduate and the first to pass and run for more than 20 touchdowns in the same season (32 passing and 23 rushing in 2007). He also quarterbacked his “Gators” to national championships, in 2006 and 2008. He is accustomed to winning and his leadership qualities are, as they say, “off the charts.”

The story of how Tebow’s mom, going against her doctor’s recommendation to abort, and subsequently delivering a perfectly normal child, is a great pro-life

narrative. So, when CBS agreed to air a 30-second commercial by Focus on the Family featuring Tim and his mother, Pam, “pro-choice” people were infuriated.

They cried foul, demanding that the spot be cancelled. One leading feminist claimed, falsely, that Tim’s mom invented her story. Another opposed the ad on the grounds that it would “dictate morality to the American public.” Apparently, to air is human, but to forgive is contrary to feminist policy. Despite the tidal wave of opposition, CBS held its ground.

The New York Times, in a January 30 editorial, found the feminist protest puzzling and dismaying: “Instead of trying to silence an opponent, advocates for allowing women to make their own decisions about whether to have a child should be using the Super Bowl spotlight to convey what their movement is all about: protecting the right of women like Pam Tebow to make their private reproductive choices.”

Sally Jenkins, writing for the Washington Post (“Tebow’s Super Bowl ad isn’t intolerant; its critics are,” Feb. 2), was blistering in her denunciation of the “group-think, elitism and condescension” of what she derisively called, the “National Organization of Fewer and Fewer Women All The Time.” It was only too clear to Jenkins that Tebow’s critics were not at all “pro-choice,” but simply pro-abortion. Furthermore, these misguided feminists were criticizing a male role model who is unimpeachable, the very kind of specimen of manhood that any sensible women should admire.

What we need, wrote Jenkins, are more Tebows: “Collegians who are selfless enough to choose not to spend summers poolside, but travel to impoverished countries to dispense medical care to children, as Tebow has every summer of his career. Athletes who believe in something other than themselves and are willing to put their backbone where their mouth is. Celebrities who are self-possessed and self-controlled enough to use their wattage to advertise commitment over decadence.”

The recent moral conduct of many professional athletes has been most disturbing. The tabloids have been enjoying a feast, dining on the off-the-field exploits of Tiger Woods, Michael Vick, Plaxico Burress, Rex Ryan, Donte Stallworth, Gilbert Arenas, ballplayers using steroids, basketball referees admitting to cheating and so on. Given the current moral climate in professional sports, a sterling character such as Tim Tebow should be welcomed with open eyes and ears. Jamelle Hill, a sports analyst for ESPN, therefore, had this to say: “I don’t care if you’re pro-life or pro-choice, conservative or liberal, God-fearing or atheist, you’ve got to admire Tebow for standing with conviction, even as he’s opening himself and his family up to criticism.”

When the highly controversial 30-second commercial aired during the Super Bowl game, viewers saw an attractive mother declare her love for her son and her son move into the eye of the camera in the final few seconds to reciprocate that expression of love. There was no mention of abortion or birth. Observers have fairly appraised the ad as “sweet,” “touching” and far more acceptable than “witnessing women in bikinis selling beer.” The image of Tim Tebow hugging his mom was no more offensive than Drew Brees holding his little boy, Braylen, after he was named the game’s MVP.

Tim Tebow has earned a pro-life MVP award because he has, though indirectly, exposed before the world the hypocrisy and censorious attitudes of so-called “pro-choice” advocates who clearly do not believe either in legitimate freedom of expression or in choice. If  NOW (which is acting more like THEN) does not speak for women who are pro-life, nor even women who are genuinely “pro-choice,” for whom does it speak?  NOW and other such “choice” agencies have reduced their philosophy to a single word and have forgotten what that word means. But one thing it does mean, something they vehemently want to suppress, is that not all choices are equal.

In 30 seconds, Pam and Tim Tebow made it a little more difficult for certain people to remain “pro-choice.”

Donald DeMarco is professor emeritus at St. Jerome’s University and adjunct professor at Holy Apostles College and Seminary.