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Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Tebow Time?

              Admittedly, I am a fan of Tim Tebow. You remember him, right? The charismatic young quarterback who led the University of Florida to two national football championships. He was also selected for the coveted college football honor – the Heisman Trophy.

Tebow became popular for bringing his teams back from defeat in what became known as “Tebow Time.” He did it repeatedly with Florida, and then with the Denver Broncos.

Many football analysts pooh-poohed his chances of ever having a successful career in the National Football League (NFL). He was picked up in the first round of the draft by the Denver Broncos. He understood that he would be the backup quarterback behind Kyle Orton. The opening five games in the 2011 season were mostly a disaster for the Broncos. They lost four and won one before Orton suffered an injury, giving Tebow an opportunity few quarterbacks have experienced.

With eleven games left in the season, Tebow rallied the Broncos to seven wins and four loses. It wasn’t a great season overall, but it was an astounding accomplishment when you consider where the Broncos started. Tebow, a young inexperienced NFL quarterback, motivated his team, as well as a world-wide audience, by taking the Broncos into the play-offs. He then led them to a victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers for their first play-off win since 2005.

Tebow’s future in the NFL looked promising. But Broncos’ owner John Elway, a Hall of Fame quarterback himself, did not see Tebow as a fit for the team. So he was picked up by the New York Jets in a trade. The next season was a waste of this young man’s talent and development. He was rarely used in what can only be called a dismal season for the Jets. He was released earlier this year to seek an opportunity to be picked up by another team.

Tebow, born Timothy Richard Tebow, has become something of a lightning rod over two things in his life: First, he is exceptionally popular. Tebow wore number 15 on his jersey for the Broncos, the same number he wore in college. He set an NFL Draft record for jersey sales and continued to have the top selling jersey through the 2010 season. Also, he created the instantly popular “Tebowing,” an action where Tebow would kneel on one knee, place his elbow on his knee, with his head bowed on his fist in an attitude of prayer and thanksgiving.

The second reason for his garnering so much attention, both positive and negative, is his openly vocal Christian witness. He makes no bones about where he stands. This goes back to his college days, and even earlier. But his popularity at Florida provided him a platform to speak boldly about his faith. He popularized the message, John 3:16, on his face black, which prompted millions of Internet searches for the beloved verse from the Bible: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” When other college students took their two-week Spring Break down in the islands of the Caribbean, or Florida, Tebow would fly to the Philippines where he worked with children in an orphanage.

This past week Tebow was picked up by the New England Patriots, a championship caliber team under what is clearly a legendary Hall of Fame coach in Bill Belichick. The Tebow naysayers are claiming that Tebow won’t amount to anything even under a coach like Belichick. As a life-long Patriots fan, I have to believe that Belichick has a plan as to how to best utilize this young man. It will be interesting to watch.

His parents were missionaries when Tebow was born in the Philippines. He grew up loving Jesus and has made a significant difference in the lives of many people by sharing his faith and being philanthropic. “Tebow envisioned a foundation to give back to others during his college career, and he, along with other University of Florida students, created First and 15, raising funds for Uncle Dick's Orphanage in the Philippines, founded by his father's nonprofit association, the Bob Tebow Evangelistic Association. He also raised money for Shands Hospital pediatric cancer center in Gainesville and a Disney trip for disadvantaged children. Upon graduation from the University of Florida, Tebow launched the Tim Tebow Foundation in January 2010. A hospital is being built in the Philippines to provide specific medical care for conditions that can be treated by surgery. Ground-breaking began in 2012. In 2013 Tim Tebow was designated a Great Floridian by Florida Governor Rick Scott in recognition of his ‘major contributions to the progress and welfare’ of Florida.

So, love him or not, it will be very interesting to see if the next few years become “Tebow Time” again.

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