Thursday night, 21 year old Florida Quarterback Tim Tebow will lead the Florida Gators into the BCS National Championship game against Oklahoma. ESPN looks at this remarkable young man, who not only won the Heisman Trophy last year, but also preached to 10,000 high schoolers in one setting when he was only 15 years old.
There are plenty of athletes who talk the pious talk. Plenty of athletes who write scripture on their eye black the way Tebow does or thank God after victories. But how many have walked the walk like Tebow — walked it into the prisons, into the slums of the Philippines, into the hearts of people in need of a role model? How many, at age 21, have done as much work on behalf of those less fortunate?
"There are people in the public arena who are playing games — and I'm not talking about football games," said Tebow's father, Bob. "He's not playing games. There's a lot of phony people in the world. He genuinely cares about people. You have to care about people to go to the hospital and visit the sick on your own."
Tebow has quarterbacked Florida to its second BCS National Championship Game in his three years at the school. He nearly won the Heisman for a second straight season. If the Gators beat Oklahoma on Thursday and he comes back for his senior year, he has a chance to become the most decorated college football player of all time.
Yet none of those are the most important statistics or milestones in Tebow's life. These are: 11 prison visits to preach Christianity to inmates; annual trips to the country of his birth, the Philippines, to assist his father's missionary work there; and seven rubber wrist bands on his arms.
Tebow talks about leadership, and how easy it is to want to be where he is but not be willing to pay the price to get where he is:
"You know, everybody, they can look and say how easy it is. But it's definitely not that easy. The difference is 'cause not many people want to wake up at 5, go through workouts, go speak to young kids, go back, eat lunch, go to class, go to tutoring, go speak at a prison at night, come back. I mean, more people would do those things; they just don't want to sacrifice.
"You know, there's a lot of leaders out there. But, unfortunately, there aren't a lot of good ones. So that's always been my dream and my goal, is to be someone like Danny Wuerffel was to me, to be someone that a parent can say, 'Hey, this kid did it the right way.' That's always been my dream and my goal more so than winning a trophy or winning a championship.
"So if it's cynical or whatnot, that's fine. If people don't believe it, that's fine. There's always going to be naysayers, people that are going to say it's fake. But that's fine because you can't control everybody. But I can control what I do, my attitude, how I approach the situation. So how I approach the situation is I want to do everything in my power that football gives me to influence as many people as I can for the good because that's gonna mean so much more when it's all said and done than just playing football and winning championships."
Tebow admits that Danny Wuerffel, former Heisman winning quarterback also from the Gators, was a huge role model for him as a 9 year old growing up. Thank God for role models like Wuerffel and Tebow. College football needs more of them. America needs more of them.
(HT: Shannon Scott via Facebook)