McGinnis: Knights in Tebow’s service? Why KISS recruiting Tim Tebow makes perfect senseWritten by Jeff McGinnis | | firstname.lastname@example.org
It’s not the best time to be Tim Tebow. After a stunningly successful 2011 season as the quarterback who led the Denver Broncos to an improbable postseason berth, capturing the imagination of fans and over-excited commentators in the process, Tebow has spent much of the past two years as little more than a footnote. From riding the bench most of last season with the Jets to getting cut by the Patriots before this season even started, it’s looking more and more like big Tim — the chosen one, God’s favorite quarterback, yadda yadda — may have played his last downs in the NFL.
Tebow’s a fascinating case study, really — a look at the cult of celebrity amplified to the widest scale imaginable. After an excellent college football career, something about the quarterback began to fascinate football fans, making him a polarizing figure on every side. Love him or hate him, you were talking about him. Soon, sports networks with time to fill (hi, ESPN!) began covering Tebow ad nauseum and the next thing you know, his story wasn’t just beaten into the ground, it was piledriven there by an entire construction crew.
I have followed Tebow’s story with interest, despite not really caring about him as a player or even football in general. I’ve read columns and articles (particularly an excellent one on Deadspin) on how ESPN’s focus on Tebow is a signifier of how far the mighty sports giant has fallen from its former journalistic glory. I’ve listened to commentators like Keith Olbermann (welcome back, KO!) discuss how people could get so focused on such a mediocre player. And what I keep coming back to is an essential truth about pop culture — that in the end, we care about the sizzle almost as much as the steak. More often than not, “style over substance” is the rule, not the exception.
This is why it made perfect sense to me when it was announced that Gene Simmons had made overtures for Tebow to join the new Los Angeles-based, KISS-themed Arena football team. There are two types of readers of this column: Those who think I’m kidding about KISS having a football team, and those who know I’m not, and are shaking their heads sadly.
KISS is one of the more interesting stories in rock history, a band that has achieved iconic status for nearly four decades despite (and here I incur the wrath of the KISS Army) not being particularly good as a band. Oh, sure, they have some decent songs, and “Rock and Roll All Night” is an eternally headbanging classic, but on the whole, what attracts people to KISS is not the music, it’s the theatrics. The makeup, the leather, the characters, the whole ensemble. For KISS, music is but the crust that holds together the bombastic pie they are selling.
And oh, how they sell it. However relatively weak their musical chops may be, KISS has found more ways to merchandise their product than most every band in history. A visit to the KISS online store (www.kissonline.com/store) showcases the wide variety of products the band has signed off on. KISS shirts. KISS hats. KISS posters. KISS party supplies. KISS games. KISS action figures. KISS comic books. KISS wine. KISS etched glass mantelpieces. KISS caskets and urns.
Yes. For a mere $3,999, you can be laid to rest in a custom-painted KISS coffin, complete with an image of all four band members on the top — I guess to confuse the hell out of archeologists of future generations as they investigate how we mourned the dead. (“Apparently some among them felt it appropriate to celebrate mediocre bands on the outside of their burial containers. No wonder their society died out.”)
So it’s not surprising that KISS would decide to expand their brand to include a football team, as well. But just because something has their name emblazoned on it doesn’t automatically make it a success. The band’s attempt at inaugurating a KISS wrestler (WCW’s “The Demon”) was a legendary flop, and even the most loyal members of the KISS Army shudder at the name “KISS Meets the Phantom of the Park.” The new team would need more than KISS’s blessing to survive.
That’s why it makes perfect sense for Simmons to make overtures for Tebow to join in this latest venture. And maybe the band’s not just trying to have a little of that Tebow magic rub off on them — while there’s still some to capture, anyway. Maybe they also see a little of themselves in the Tebow phenomenon. A band with a few good songs and a whole lot of hype meets a quarterback with a Heisman, a few good games and a whole lot of hype, as well. Tebow is KISS on the football field. I just hope, if he does decide to jump into this fiasco, they at least let him pick which makeup design is his.