By Justin Barney
Tim Tebow came home on Friday night with a message that’s become a recurring theme in his ministry.
NFL quarterback or not — and he’s not right now after being released by the New York Jets — Tebow’s going to continue using the platform that he’s been given to make an impact any way that he can.
Tebow spoke at New Life Christian Fellowship as part of his Inspire series. Recently named the world’s most influential athlete by Forbes, Tebow didn’t talk about his lofty status, or future as an NFL player. While the debate about where the former Nease High and University of Florida star will end up continues to drag on, that wasn’t the message.
Tebow instead chose to share numerous stories from his well-known words of faith and hope. Tebow, who wasn’t made available to the media, talked about everything from his competitive nature as a 4-year-old tee-ball player (his coach thought Tebow’s mentality was a little too much), to his most forgettable recruiting trip in high school (Notre Dame). Most of the stories began with sports and ended with some tie to faith or humility.
For many in the audience, it was a chance to see and hear Tebow without “Jets” or “Jaguars” or “throwing motion” attached. It was a simple night that several people said was like a conversation around a table with an old friend. New Life’s Melodee Nobles said that 750 people attended the event.
“It was fun out there, how can it not be with that guy out there,” said Denny Thompson, a Providence assistant football coach who helped WJXL radio host Joe Cowart with an auction of Tebow-related memorabilia that raised $12,700. “It was a great night out there.”
Providence junior Jack Halton, a tight end on the Stallions football team, said the night allowed the audience to hear Tebow, unscripted, talk about more than just football.
“You don’t get to see who’s behind the pads and we got a chance to see that,” Halton said. “He goes out of his way to reach out to kids. It’s just great to see that even someone [famous] like him will do that. I thought he was great.”
Outside of the Florida-Florida State zingers that drew the most applause, Tebow’s football line of the night came when Erik Dellanback asked about the most memorable moment of his 2011 season with the Denver Broncos.
“One of my favorite stories, ironically, was against the New York Jets,” Tebow said of a Nov. 17 game, a 17-13 Broncos win.
“And probably my greatest Jets highlight, I guess.”
Dellenback, executive director of Tebow’s foundation, said that some of the most special events that Tebow takes part in are those like Friday’s. Tebow does about 20 events every year like the Inspire forum. “We get to play a small part in making a difference,” Dellenback said. “God changes people we just get an opportunity to plant the seed.”