HOW FOOTBALL, RELIGION TURNED EAGLES’ FOURTH-STRING QB INTO A CULTURAL PHENOMENON (TKS DO )

 Martin Frank , The News Journal
 PHILADELPHIA — Tim Tebow is a cultural phenomenon to a legion of fans because of his religious convictions that include kneeling in prayer after scoring touchdowns and for his philanthropy that includes opening a children’s hospital in the Philippines.

He is also a cultural phenomenon to a legion of detractors incensed that there’s such a fuss over a fourth-string quarterback considered a long shot to make the Eagles’ roster. Tebow, after all, last played in an NFL regular-season game in 2012 and has completed just 47.9 percent of his passes during his career, a poor percentage for an NFL quarterback.

Yet the Eagles’ public relations department counted 105 media members in attendance May 28 for Tebow’s first press conference. That total is comparable to the media turnout for a playoff game.

“In some ways, he’s a polarizing figure, and that adds to the fascination about him,” said Timothy Houseal, a Wilmington attorney who’s on the board of directors for the Delaware Leadership Prayer Breakfast, held annually at the Chase Center on the Riverfront.

“People can look at the exact same picture and see two different things,” Houseal added. “When Tim Tebow kneels in the end zone after scoring a touchdown, some will see that as humbling himself in front of God. And some will see it as self promotion.”

It’s the same way with Tebow’s football career.

Some see a dynamic quarterback who led his college team, the University of Florida, to national championships in the 2006 and 2008 seasons, and won the Heisman Trophy in 2007. They see Tebow’s 7-4 record as a starting quarterback with the Denver Broncos in 2011, along with a stunning playoff victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers when Tebow threw an 80-yard touchdown pass on the first play of overtime.

Others, like former NFL kicker Jay Feely, see a quarterback who can’t throw accurately. Feely recently called Tebow “the single-worst quarterback I ever saw” on “The Jim Rome Show.”

COURIER-POST

Eagles are Tim Tebow’s best, last chance at NFL career

GENEROUS IN SPIRIT

To understand why there is no middle ground with Tebow, you have to start with his image.

Tim Tebow, who’s 27 years old, grew up the son of Baptist missionaries and spent time overseas helping children in impoverished nations.

As an adult, Tebow established The Tim Tebow Foundation, which opened the Tebow CURE Hospital in the Philippines last month. According to the foundation, the hospital specializes in pediatric orthopedic surgeries for conditions such as clubfoot and spinal deformities, and provides physical and spiritual healing to Filipino children who otherwise would not be able to receive the care they need.

“It was awesome,” Tebow said about the opening. “I would’ve been there, but I got the call to come to (Eagles’ spring workouts). I’ll be back there soon. It also really puts things into perspective about what really matters. You know, we love playing this game. I love playing this game. I put so much into it. Ultimately, when you’re able to keep things into perspective of what really matters, it really does give you a lot more peace in what you’re doing.

“It’s something I want to do the rest of my life.”

Tebow also established “Timmy’s Playroom” in four children’s hospitals in Florida. Each playroom is customized with a football field floor, football chairs, custom wall graphics, a helmet shaped table for arts and crafts, specially-built lockers, a Bible verse banner and a Jumbotron entertainment center. It is also stocked with latest video games, DVDs and electronics.

The foundation also grants children with a life-threatening illness a “wish” that involves meeting Tebow.

Football, then, is Tebow’s platform for his charitable work and to espouse his Christian beliefs.

The term “Tebowing” was created to describe him bending on one knee in prayer after scoring a touchdown. When the Eagles signed Tebow in April, a local pretzel chain created a pretzel in that pose.

At Florida, Tebow wrote “John 3:16” on his eye black for his second national championship game. Tebow was later told that 94 million people used Google to find out what the verse says.

GENUINE FAITH

In that vein, Tebow is no different from countless athletes who openly express their religious beliefs. It can be seen in the prayer circles at midfield after games, in the team chapels, and during interviews.

But are those players wholesome? Do they believe what they preach? Or do they use God as a crutch in order to have a great game?

That’s what Plumstead Christian School headmaster Pat Fitzgerald wondered about Tebow when Tebow was the keynote speaker at the Bucks County school two years ago.

Fitzgerald said just before the event began, Tebow and his brother went into the bathroom while a security guard stood outside. After several minutes, the guard went in to check on them and found Tebow and his brother on the floor praying.

“To me, that spoke volumes,” Fitzgerald said. “It told me that what he says in public, he really means in private.”

Tebow held a 45-minute question and answer session with the audience that night. Fitzgerald said Tebow always brought his answers back to his belief in Jesus Christ, but in a non-preaching, humble way.

“People kept coming up to me saying that he was so real, so genuine and so likeable,” Fitzgerald said. “He has a self-deprecating humor. I think that speaks to why people love him … Even if you take away who he is as a Christian and the qualities he possesses, you’d still admire him on the football field for his work ethic. He keeps getting kicked and he keeps coming up for more.”

Eagles wide receiver Riley Cooper, who was Tebow’s roommate at Florida, saw that as well.

“I don’t know how he does it,” Cooper said. “He’s not just a football player that everybody knows. He’s a celebrity. There aren’t very many football players in this league who are ‘celebrities.’ He’s one of those guys. He’s a household name. Everybody knows who he is. He deals with it so well — the little kids to adults screaming his name wherever he goes. He deals with it maturely, and he always goes out of his way for other people.”

CHALLENGE AHEAD

Eagles coach Chip Kelly didn’t sign Tebow because of his image or his charity work. The Eagles needed a fourth quarterback for the spring OTAs while the roster is at 90 players. In addition, starting quarterback Sam Bradford hasn’t taken part in the team drills as he continues to recover from ACL surgery.

“We looked at the prospects in the draft and didn’t think there was … a draftable guy,” Kelly said. “We didn’t think it was a great priority free agent class in terms of quarterbacks. We were looking for a guy. There were a few guys we looked at who were not with teams, who were out on the street, and Tim was a guy we thought could come in here.”

Kelly insisted that Tebow was brought in solely as a quarterback, and not to serve as a fullback in short-yardage situations; or to run the wildcat on two-point conversion attempts; or to serve on special teams.

That means Tebow will have to unseat third stringer Matt Barkley, a former prodigy at Southern Cal, in order to make the Eagles’ final 53-man roster.

And the reviews have been mixed through the first two weeks of Eagles’ OTAs. During the practices open to the media, Tebow seems to hold onto the ball longer than the other quarterbacks, and his passes don’t appear to be much more accurate than in the past.

Backup quarterback Mark Sanchez was teammates with Tebow in 2012 on the Jets. Back then, Sanchez bristled at the fact that Tebow was brought in to compete with him for the starting job. Sanchez won the job and Tebow was used mostly in wildcat situations. The Jets released Tebow after the season.

After they were reunited in Philadelphia, Sanchez implied that Tebow was brought in to serve as a “camp arm.”

“He’s obviously a great guy, he works hard,” Tebow told CSNPhilly in April. “And we needed another guy to throw while Sam’s still recovering. So that’s the reason, at least that’s how it was explained to me.”

Last week, Sanchez tried clarifying those remarks.

“That kind of came off the wrong way,” Sanchez said. “That’s not exactly what I intended to say, so it took on a life of its own. Everyone is here for a reason. We’re all working hard, trying to make each other better … (Tebow’s role) is up to coach. We just plug in and play.”

He was then asked to compare Tebow’s throwing ability to when they were teammates in 2012.

“I don’t know,” Sanchez said. “I don’t like to compare players or coaches or where I’ve been before, so I’ll stay away from that.”

But Tebow said he can notice a difference in his accuracy after working last season with former pitching coach Tom House while serving as a college football analyst for ESPN’s SEC Network. House has also worked with New England quarterback Tom Brady and others on their throwing mechanics.

Tebow said he’s confident that his improbable comeback will work, perhaps because there’s a higher calling involved.

“I’m humbled to serve those kids every single day,” Tebow said. “And it’s also something that makes me work even harder when I get the opportunity to be out here. You can count your blessings. It is a blessing to be able to come out here when you come from an orphanage where they’re just hoping they can have shirts or flip-flops.

“It changes your whole perspective.”

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4 Responses to “HOW FOOTBALL, RELIGION TURNED EAGLES’ FOURTH-STRING QB INTO A CULTURAL PHENOMENON (TKS DO )”

  1. ck says:

    Can’t say it enough…GO TEBOW!!!

  2. David Oliver says:

    Short video of some of TT OTAs throwing..

    from: Depose Sports: Tim Tebow 2015 OTA/ Minicamp Highlights

    (Any know of a more extensive video review of OTA – TD throws,
    TD runs he made etc.?)

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=15nYLoI_Xsw

    Buzzy Says : Great Post DO

  3. brandi says:

    I would like everyone to read this article on ESPN…

    http://espn.go.com/nfl/story/_/id/12271531/indianapolis-colts-gm-tipped-nfl-patriots-deflating-footballs-troy-vincent-says

    Here’s a highlighted section..

    Vincent also said in the interview that he did not read former FBI director Robert S. Mueller III’s report that the NFL failed to properly investigate the Ray Rice case.

    “The crime had already been committed,” he said. “There was a ton of public speculation at the time what we did, what we didn’t do. We acknowledge we made a mistake.”

    He also expressed regret for the league’s handling of the Rice assault case and wants to move ahead.

    “We didn’t apply the proper discipline,” he said. “I’m not sure how much we can continue to keep talking about that particular.”

    I have put this here for a reason…This is why Tim Tebow is so popular, while Playing for a league which has made itself the pariah of Sports Organizations not named FIFA.

    The “Vincent” is Troy Vincent. For those who don’t know, Troy Vincent is the Head of NFL League Operations. If this can sink in for a moment. The Head of League Operations hasn’t bothered reading the report on how League Operations mishandled the Scandal that nearly sunk the League Commissioner.

    Ray Rice type situations go on so often in the NFL NBC Sports carries a Police Blotter Section for the NFL. The ONLY one, Pro or Amateur for which they do this. It continues because it is a league that feeling that squelched the public relations problems associated with getting caught trying to sweep a Player knocking his wife unconscious as much under the table as quickly as it could, brought in a Former FBI Director to head the internal investigation and be a key piece of the league’s PR campaign to say…see? we’re taking violence committed by Players seriously. Then the League’s Operations Sr VP put it in a drawer without reading it and clearly has the attitude…that was so almost a year ago. Move along.

    Tim Tebow is as popular as he is because no matter how many parents say they don’t want their kids looking up to athletes, that’s not really true. They don’t want their kids’ hearts broken when those athletes do the things they do.

    And NOBODY thinks Tim Tebow will EVER break their kid’s heart like this.

    Thanks for the patience.

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