Has polarizing football player Tim Tebow gotten a raw deal in the press because of his religious beliefs? And would he be treated more respectfully if he were not Christian, and specifically, Muslim? Gene Simmons thinks so.
“He’s got a religious passion, as well he should, we’re in America,” the KISS frontman told Radio.com earlier this week. “He’s proud to be a Christian, what’s wrong with that? And yet, with sports media and pop culture media, they make fun of his religion. Really? In America? If he was wearing a burqa, they wouldn’t dare say anything [editor’s note: only Muslim women wear burqas]. But if you’re a Christian, you get to be picked on? What the hell? The guy’s got family values. I never saw the media picking on Michael Vick for torturing dogs. Or this other football player, who’s alleged to have killed, committed murder. That’s ‘cool.’ But a guy who’s religious and has got family values isn’t ‘cool?’ He’s cool to me.”
As has been widely reported, Simmons and his KISS bandmate Paul Stanley are now co-owners of a new Arena Football League team, to be called LA KISS. And Simmons wasted no time drawing attention to the expansion team (which will begin playing in 2014), extending a very public offer to quarterback Tim Tebow, who after a brief up-and-down career in the NFL, was released by the New England Patriots a few weeks ago.
In an interview focusing on the new oral history of KISS, Nothing To Lose (more on that to come), Simmons addressed the situation with the man who he hopes will be the KISS QB.
“We haven’t heard back from Tim,” Simmons said. “He’s considering this seriously; he’s in Los Angeles. Right after this, I’m gonna fly back with our guys and try to sit down with him and tell him that we’re serious about this. He’ll get the respect here that he didn’t get at the NFL.”
Simmons may relate to Tebow on that level: he has always taken issue with the music media (notably Rolling Stone) for not treating KISS seriously, which he addresses in Nothing To Lose. But the treatment that he feels Tebow has received makes him particularly incensed: “They’re a**holes. And they should be called to task, and they should lose their license, because in a very real way, as far as I’m concerned, it’s slander and defamation. You’re making fun of somebody’s religion.”
“I think religion is good for mankind. Without the Ten Commandments,” he pauses to note, “Jews gave you that,” and continues, “Without that, there’d be chaos. Somebody had to say, ‘Here are some good ideas: don’t steal, and don’t kill.’ Those are good ideas. That’s called ‘civilization.’ There was once a time where those things weren’t written down. You had chaos! We still have chaos, but there’s a reference point. But those are good ideas. Honor thy father and thy mother. That’s a good idea!”
Though Simmons is clearly Team Tebow in this specific arena, he fact that he’s looking to be in business with the former star quaterback is something of a surprising development. Despite the fact that KISS performed at the 1999 Super Bowl, Simmons has never been a big football fan. He admits, “I like the passion and the athleticism, but visually, it’s never done anything for me because everybody dresses alike.” The lifelong comic book fan continues: “If I was doing a football team, you’d make it more like the X-Men, one guy has a visor, one guy’s dressed like a beast.”
Given that he and KISS tend to make their own rules, is there any chance that players on the LA KISS team may sport slight variations in all of their jerseys? “No — we’re gonna follow AFL regulations. But Paul is talking now with the outfit designers. But we may change the outfits every week! We want to make this really exciting, nothing boring. You’re gonna see, in between the balls being tossed, and the touchdowns and all that, you’re gonna have entertainment. People rappelling from the roof, fireworks, beautiful girls, anything we can do to make the experience great. And by the way, you won’t have to mortgage your house to get a ticket. It’s $99 for a full season ticket. And you get a free KISS concert for that. We’re gonna put on the whole show as a ‘thank you.'”
Clearly Simmons knows how to get attention for his team. So, are there any other big names that the franchise will reach out to? “We’re not allowed to talk about it at the moment. We have a president and a coach who we’re about to sign, but… all in good time.”
As for his “day job,” Simmons says there will be a North American tour celebrating KISS’s 40th anniversary. “And I just wrote a new song I’m really excited about called ‘Your Wish Is My Command.’ Great anthem. It’s a great title!”