With the news that Tim Tebow worked out for the Philadelphia Eagles on Monday, his NFL career may be back on. After being out of the league for two full seasons, the wheeling and dealing Eagles Head Coach Chip Kelly may just be the one to resurrect the Heisman trophy winner’s pro football career. Personally, I’d rather see Tebow rise again with the New York Jets and getting two cracks a year at his former contemptable coach Rex Ryan, now the head man in Buffalo, a Jets rival- but that debate can wait.
While Tebow returns to the professional spotlight, another legend returns to the U.S. for yet another whirl. By Thursday, The Rolling Stones are widely expected to announce details for their forthcoming summer road trip. 50 years and counting, “the world’s greatest rock and roll band” keeps proving they’re far from finished as well.
This past weekend, prior to his Monday workout, the ex-NFL Quarterback and 2-time National Collegiate Football Champion Tim Tebow showed he’s still a rock star. And still winning at the game of life.
Thousands of adoring fans turned out for the 5th annual Tim Tebow Foundation Celebrity Gala and Golf Classic at the TPC at Sawgrass- not far from Tim’s childhood home and the University of Florida, where he rose to national prominence.
Plenty of stars across all sports and entertainment came out as well to support Tebow and his philanthropy- an organization that’s raised more than $4 million leading into this weekend, for five specific outreach initiatives that service special needs and sick children around the world. The mission is simple: “Bring Faith, Hope and Love to those needing a brighter day in their darkest hour of need.”
Heavyweight Champ Evander Holyfield showed up, even though he’s not much of a golfer. Fellow Heisman winners and Florida Gators, Cam Newton and Danny Wuerffel were there too. As was ex-Gator David Nelson and their ex-coach at Florida, Urban Meyer, along with new Gator head ball coach, Jim McElwain. Current pro golfers Chris DeMarco (Gator), Billy Horschel (Gator) and Jason Day joined current MMA star Brendan Schaub and retired athletes, Paul Azinger, Marcus Spears, Eddie George, Shawne Merriman, Gary Sheffield and Artis Gilmore, in helping Tebow’s efforts. Country singers Jake Owen and Kristy Lee Cook, the Voice’s Javier Colon and Christian singer David Lubben turned out too.
You can be sure no one’s arm from that group had to be twisted to be here. Saying “no” to a guy like Tebow is not something anyone who’s met the man thinks about. After seeing him and speaking with him first hand for the better part of two days, I can attest he’s every bit as genuine, sincere, accommodating and gracious as you’ve heard. Yet, 32 NFL owners continue to say no to Tebow Time. ESPN’s Scott Van Pelt, who Tebow recruited as Friday night’s auctioneer, simply called it, “preposterous” that Tebow is not on an NFL roster right now.
Back in September, I posted an in-depth analysis on Why No One in the NFL Wants Tim Tebow and my conclusion was similar. It’s absolutely ludicrous to dismiss his proven performances on the field. I dare anyone to watch the NFL Films produced film on Tebow that I included within my article and then tell me he can’t play QB in the NFL. Not to worry, you won’t be alone- nearly 1 million have already checked it out. The athletes in attendance this past weekend also wondered why Tebow is still on the sidelines.
Evander Holyfield: “I don’t know. I really don’t. I think he should (be in the NFL). They say he runs too much- all I see is QB’s running.”
Danny Wuerffel, whose group ended up winning the Tebow Foundation golf classic: “I’m really surprised he’s not getting a shot.”
Urban Meyer: “I don’t get it.”
Cam Newton: “He’s a winner. He won at every level. His skill set and talent needs to be appreciated.”
Former Titans All-Pro RB Eddie George thinks Tebow’s going to get another shot with all the recent QB turmoil in the NFL.
Ex-Chargers linebacker Shawne Merriman, who’s nickname while playing was “Lights Out,” because that’s what he did to opponents, particularly QBs, agreed that his biggest concern when defending a QB was his mobility. A QB like Tebow, who can move, is naturally more trouble for defenses than traditional pocket passers. The reason guys like Tom Brady and Peyton Manning need to be so incredibly proficient throwing is because they have no other choice. Neither can move well.
While the NFL is a QB league, the problem with most of the people who run NFL teams (owners, general managers and coaches), and most fans who follow the game, do not understand what the most important quality in a QB is that translates into championship play. The reality which they fail to grasp year after year, draft after draft is: “Throwing” is probably the least important skill set- coming in well behind- heart, will-to-win, leadership, decision-making, toughness, inspiring teammates, maturity, work ethic, commitment, film study and finally, the ability to deliver in crunch time. I’ll sooner take a guy with no arms and off the chart rankings in all of these other areas before considering only a pure passer.
If “throwing” was so important to success, golden armed QB Jay Cutler would have more playoff wins than the 1 he has in 9 NFL Seasons. Tebow has that many in just 3 years in the league and in none of those 3 seasons was he the full-time starter like Jay. And don’t even get me started on wins and winning- I’ll only offer this golden nugget: Only 2 QBs taken in the 1st round of the last 5 drafts have a winning NFL career record: Andrew Luck and Tim Tebow.
Tebow, the QB who many (not me) say cannot throw has been working on his throwing a lot. Confirming this past weekend that Tom Brady’s QB guru, Tom House, has been coaching him for months. Tim says, “Everything we do is fundamentals. From the rotation of throwing, being compact, being on point — all those things. It’s been awesome. He’s so good. He’s done a lot for a lot of QB’s.”
Tim feels he’s better than ever and looks to be in the best shape of his life. He just tweeted out on Sunday, “Great throwing workout with my boys!” That doesn’t sound like a guy ready to hang up the cleats anytime soon.
When asked by another reporter on Friday night if he still wants to play football, he laughed and smiled, “You know I always want to play ball.”
I laughed too.
It’s well known Tebow’s one of the fiercest competitors in every activity he undertakes- of course, he still wants to play football! Anyone who questions his on-going desire doesn’t understand the fire within that drives Tebow to greatness. It’s not in everyone. But then again, Tim Tebow is not like everyone.
When asked if he “needs” football by a third reporter on Saturday- Tim offered a more grounded take. “No. I think for me when a door closes you look for the next one. And when a door opens, that’s exciting. And you handle every opportunity as best you can.”
You get the feeling listening to Tim speak, that his real passion lies with life and living- regardless of how he makes his living. Does he still want to play and win in the NFL? Absolutely. But he also knows winning in life is far more important than any touchdowns he scores or championships he amasses.
“I want to have a life of significance,” says Tebow. “And caring for the least of these (Matthew 25:40) really matters. If you look at the different groups we help- it’s kids fighting illnesses, it’s kids that need surgeries, it is people that have been abandoned or thrown away or neglected or forgotten about and that’s really where my heart is. We’re just trying to shine a light on them. And let them know that they’re special. And that they have a purpose…That’s what it’s about for us.”
Tebow’s quick to tell us the story of a little girl who desperately needed a surgery or share how proud he is of “Night to Shine,” the 44 prom nights his foundation just held around the country for special needs kids. At the South Carolina prom, Tebow spoke with a crying mother, whose daughter was there, and told him,“My daughter’s never gonna’ get married, she’s never gonna’ have kids, but tonight, she felt like a princess.” Tebow adds, “For me, that’s worth it. If it was just for her, that’s worth it.”
Earlier I mentioned the 5 central programs the Tebow Foundation administers- they are the Tebow Cure Hospital in the Phillipines; Orphan Care; W15H providing once in a lifetime experiences for children with life threatening illnesses who wish to meet Tim; Team Tebow creating a brighter day throughout local communities; and Timmy’s Playroom for patients at hospitals throughout the world.
As if you need any more reasons to root for Tim, I followed “Team Tebow,” which included his brother Robby, for Sunday’s back 9. Here’s what I saw:
- At the turn, on his way to hole #10, Tebow stopped to say hello and take a selfie with an overjoyed, 35-year old wheelchair bound, Jacquelyn Pack, who’s living with cerebral palsy. Jacquelyn’s followed Tebow since his high school days. While she’s never got to see him play in person she tells me the reason she loves him is because, “He’s so nice to everyone. He treats everyone with respect and he’s not afraid to believe in God.”
- On #11, Tebow gets some driving tips from Landon Gentry, who competes on the ‘Long Drivers of America’ circuit. Tebow hits five blistering drives on this hole.
- On #12, Tebow greets the ‘Yogurt Frog’ employees with handshakes and generous smiles. He says hello to each volunteer stationed at the hole as well.
- On #13, Tebow gets a massage from the on-site masseuse prior to teeing off. And of course, takes a photo with her afterward. Leaving the green, he spends some time with Mom and her all-female entourage, who’ve also been following along. Tebow moves onto the next hole, but not before hugging and kissing his mom. No wonder my mom loves Tebow so much.
- On #14, Tebow fires a toy bb gun at a target set-up for all golfers. He’s competitive with this too- carefully checking each of his playing partners’ accuracy. Marines man the tee box. He salutes them and poses for more photos.
- On #15, Tebow sinks a birdie putt bringing cheers all around- then, it’s more pictures and autographs for the growing gallery.
- On #16, Tebow hooks up with little Carolina Parson, an 8-year old girl recovering from a brain tumor and part of Dreams Come True.
Thankfully, Carolina’s finished with treatment and doing well right now.
- On #17, the famed island hole at the TPC at Sawgrass, Tebow flies the green on his first tee shot. He sticks the landing on his second. After a family foundation photo on the tee, he lets a cancer stricken young boy putt for him. The kid catches a ride with Tebow to the next hole.
- On #18, Tebow nails a 15-foot birdie putt to close out Team Tebow’s round. Of course he did. He’s a Jedi.
- Approaching the clubhouse, a wedding party gathers on the front lawn. My first thought was, ‘Maybe Tebow’s marrying the couple to be.’ After all, he performs circumcisions. Why not marriages too? Instead, he happily signs more autographs and takes even more pictures with his fans for the next 35 minutes.
- In his post-round interview, I asked who the better golfer was, him or his brother? Tebow didn’t hesitate, “He is.” A rare acceptance of defeat from the guy who never wants to finish second.
Tim Tebow is the most polarizing athlete and at the same time, easily, the most beloved. In January of 2012, Tebow finished as the most popular athlete in America in an ESPN poll- a survey they’ve been conducting every month for the last 18 years. Tebow topped Forbes 2013 “Most Influential Athlete” list. That same year, Bing search engine said Tebow was the most “searched” athlete in America. And just last year in 2014, People magazine named him to their “Sexiest Men Alive” list.
Despite being out of the NFL for two full seasons and not having taken a meaningful snap since his miraculous 2011 season with Denver, Tebow’s devoutly passionate followers continue to adore him. Tim Tebow is the Pied Piper of sports. He has nearly 3 million twitter followers, tops among anyone in the major U.S. sports- and Tim’s not even an active player. He’s revered as much for what he’s accomplished on the field, as for what he engineers off it.
When you add everything up, Tim Tebow may just be the greatest American athlete today. If there’s someone more admirable, please enlighten me.
At Tim Tebow’s core is an unbreakable belief system. He believes in God. He believes in his family. And he believes he can make a difference in other people’s lives. And most of all, he wants to make a difference together. It’s why he insists on referring to his foundation as “our foundation” and a “family.”
Tebow adds, “I can do a little bit. You can do a little bit. Each one of us can do a little bit. But when we come together, we can do something that is huge and amazing.” Tebow’s point is that we’re all in this together- regardless of race, religion, politics or team affiliations. “There’s so many things in life that tear people apart…but if we agree on our top priorities then that’s good enough for me. Having your faith be strong, your family be strong, doing what’s right for people, caring about people, making a difference in their lives….if we can agree on the most important things in life, then we can be a force for good and I really believe that.”
I google two names when I first open up my computer each day- Tim Tebow and Bruce Springsteen. Like Tim, The Boss believes, “Nobody wins, unless everybody wins,” a statement he often preaches from the concert stage. And just as Tebow’s, Springsteen’s beliefs center on hope, faith, dreams and togetherness.
Be brave enough to dream and Dream to be great- creeds to unite both Tebow and Springsteen. I do wonder if Tebow is a fan. I’ll have to ask him next time; if not, then I’ll have to introduce them. After all, I have met both.
Both men understand we all want to, and need to believe in something- in love, in humanity…in our favorite sports team.
I grew up a die-hard Philadelphia Phillies fan and I can vividly recall the slogan behind the 1980 World Championship team that their late great relief pitcher Tug McGraw coined emphatically, “Ya Gotta’ Believe!”
Earlier that same year, in a frozen Lake Placid, New York, broadcaster Al Michaels asked us, “Do you believe in miracles?!”
My answer to that question then, as a young boy, is the same as it is today, after watching Tim Tebow- ‘Yes, I believe in miracles.’ Tim Tebow was actually dubbed “the miracle baby” by his doctors because they did not think he would survive in his mother’s womb, miraculously and thankfully, he did.
Millions still believe in Tim Tebow the football player. All of us who’ve actually met Tim Tebow, believe in the person too.
As for a message to those who still hope to see Tebow out there on Sundays- 1:5 offered this to me: “God always has a plan and you just trust that. And when doors open, you walk through them. And when they close, you just look forward to the next opportunity that is going to open for you. You stay patient, but you stay passionate about whatever it is your dream is and push forward and continue to be the best at whatever you set your mind to.”
Did I mention yet how much Tebow inspires?
If you’re a spiritual person you may take note that Tebow’s workout with the Eagles took place on 3.16- 3:16 is the Bible verse Tim used to paint on his eye black in college. It’s also the exact number of yards he threw for in the playoff win vs the Steelers in 2012. And to take this thought even further, the exact day was 3.16.15- with “15" of course being Tebow’s long time number. Could 2015 truly be the comeback year for 15?
Oh, and about that Tebow/Rolling Stones connection I made earlier? They actually have something in common other than their “greatest” moniker- they’ve both played in the Swamp.
Keep on rocking 1:5. Like you also told me over the weekend, “You never know what the future holds.” — perhaps it’s in the city of brotherly love and the home to Rocky- yet another great American story.
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Here’s a few more photos from Tebow’s 5th annual Golf Classic weekend….
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- Update: The 2-day event raised more than $1.5 million