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Why is Tim Tebow reaching phenom status?

5:52 PM, Dec 16, 2011   |    comments
Denver Broncos QB Tim Tebow
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Tampa, Florida -- University of Florida fans have long been admirers of Tim Tebow, and now as quarterback for the Denver Bronco's, he's becoming nothing short of a phenomenon.

One indication of the QB's rock-star status is that David O'Keefe, local artist and long-time illustrator for the Tampa Tribune, is putting the finishing touches on his latest larger-than life caricature, which happens to be - Tim Tebow.

"Everything about him has just been magical," said O'Keefe as he sat inside the Palm Beach Autographs store at the International Mall, finishing the portrait.

O'Keefe always seem to have his paint-brush on the pulse of American pop icon culture, and when it comes to Tebow, he says he's a big fan.

"I love Tim. I mean, he's just a great guy outside of football and when you watch him play, it's like... wow!"

There's no question that Tebow, a former Florida QB and Heisman trophy winner, is now a national superstar. His iconic image appears on the cover of magazines.

Fans from other teams are now wearing his name and number 15 on their jerseys. Kids, all over, are striking a prayerful pose called "Tebowing". Google it. There's even a beer named for him now, called Tebrew.

And in the most recent GOP debate? Guess whose name got mentioned.

"I hope I am the Tim Tebow of the Iowa Caucuses," said Texas Governor Rick Perry.

So what is behind Tebow's soaring popularity?

USF marketing professor Anand Kumar, an expert in branding and consumer behavior, says Tebow is perceived by many as an underdog whose faith has somehow lifted him beyond the NFL pundits' low expectations.

"And there are a lot of others who realize that the two may not be connected," said Kumar, "and yet they might say, 'As long as he's winning, that's fine!'"

Brandy Macias, purchasing a photo of Tebow today said she appreciates Tebow's unabashed faith.

"He shows a lot of enthusiasm for for his religion, for his sport, and what he does and what he likes. It's pretty inspiring, I think," said Macias.

Brad Farina says he's not a huge fan, but respects that somehow Tebow gets the job done.

"I mean at the end of the day, he's making the play on the field and I think that's the big thing the fans are attracted to," said farina.

Tebow has staged spectacular -- some might even say "miraculous" -- comebacks. He's won seven of his last eight games with the Denver Broncos.

"If you believe, unbelievable things can sometimes be possible," said Tebow.

His faith, his heart and his passion are all making him larger than life.

If you're thinking about a Tebow-sized Christmas gift, signed, limited edition prints of O'Keefe's Tebow portrait will be available by December 23rd at Palm Beach Autographs in the International Plaza Mall.

For more info about David O'Keefe and his work, visit www.davidokeefe.com.

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