Football not first priority for Floridas Tim Tebow
Opponents on the Gridiron—Brothers in Christ
Jul 30, 2009
By JAMES A. SMITH SR.

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Editor’s note: With the Gators beginning practice this week and ready to defend their national championship, Florida Baptist Witness is re-posting this profile of Tim Tebow, Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback and longtime member of First Baptist Church in Jacksonville. The article was originally published Aug. 30, 2007.

GAINESVILLE (FBW)—Holding the most high profile position on the defending National Championship team—making him the biggest Big Man on Campus at a football-crazed school—could easily go to the head of any college sophomore, but Tim Tebow says that football is not even the third most important thing in his life.

"I am fortunate to have family members, coaches and teammates around who can help me stay focused on the right things for us to be successful. For me, every day includes four things: God, family, academics and football, in that order," Tebow told Florida Baptist Witness.

TEBOW
In a sign of the media scrutiny and time pressure his schedule is under, Florida Sports Information staffer Zack Higbee told the Witness there were hundreds of interview requests for Tebow as the Gators prepare to defend their championship and it was impossible to grant every one of them. The university accommodated the Witness's interview request by having questions to Tebow submitted in writing and receiving his written replies via Higbee.

Although Tebow was the back-up quarterback last year, even as a true freshman he saw significant duty in all 14 games, including the National Cham­pion­ship game against Ohio State, allowing him to be the team's second-leading rusher and first with eight rushing touchdowns.

In 2007, however, Tebow is the starting quarterback and undisputed leader of the Gators in their drive to match the school's basketball team as back-to-back National Champions.

For Tebow, the way to deal with the pressure that comes with the territory is to ignore most of what others say about him.

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"I don't really listen too much since it's important to stay in the middle and not get too high or too low. Florida fans are passionate and that's what makes them great. Being cheered or criticized is all part of sports and how everything goes in cycles," Tebow said.

The other key in keeping balance in his life is his relationship with Christ.

Tebow grew-up in a Christian family, led by missionary parents Bob and Pam Tebow. The Tebows are members of First Baptist Church in Jacksonville. He began his walk with Christ as a six-year-old and has regularly traveled with his family during summers to the Philippines, where he was born, to lead evangelistic crusades and minister in orphanages. (For more on Tebow's family and the nationwide recruiting efforts of him, see Barbara Denman's Jan. 19, 2006, Witness story, "QB facing college challenges grounded in Christ.)

Although his college commitments prevented him from going to the Philippines this summer, Tebow told the Witness the experiences of ministering there remain with him—and is something he will pursue in the future because "it is a valuable part of my life."

Reflecting on the people he has ministered to, Tebow said, "Meeting all of those different people who have nothing and are poor gave me an appreciation for what me and my family have and provided me with the perspective of taking nothing for granted. It also allowed me to see the effect that I could have on those people. For some, the belief in Christ is all that they have and is much more important than money or material possessions."

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