Until Tim Tebow completely puts the issue to rest, questions about a future in professional football will remain standing.
With his first NFL team, the Denver Broncos, losing two quarterbacks in one week and some Canadian Football League rumors swirling, Tebow dodged the issue as easily as he would a tackler when he was a Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback for the University of Florida from 2006-2009.
Besides, he had more important things on his mind, such as helping children who are ill or have special needs with the long list of charitable efforts through the Tim Tebow Foundation.
“Tonight is about these kids,” Tebow said on Friday at the TPC Sawgrass on the eve of the sixth annual Tim Tebow Celebrity Golf Classic. “It’s not about football. It’s about what we’re doing, through faith, hope and love and the people we serve all over the world. That’s going to be bigger than football every single day of my life.”
The golf tournament at the Players Stadium Course on Saturday will include celebrities such as Tebow’s former coach at Florida, Urban Meyer; former Atlanta Braves star and Bolles graduate Chipper Jones; Pro Football Hall of Fame running back Marcus Allen; PGA Tour winners Billy Horschel of Ponte Vedra Beach and Zach Johnson of St. Simons Island, Ga.; Gator Heisman Trophy winner Danny Wuerffel; The Band Perry; and Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze.
The event has raised more than $5.5 million for programs such as the Tebow Cure Hospital in the Philippines; Timmy’s Playrooms, for patients at hospitals in the U.S.; Night to Shine, in which proms are hosted for special-needs teens and young adults; and W15H, which grants wishes to children with life-threatening illnesses.
Since playing for the Broncos in 2009 and 2010, Tebow has had turns with the New York Jets, New England Patriots and Philadelphia Eagles. He was cut by the Eagles at the end of the 2015 preseason.
It seemed far from his mind on this night.
“I look forward to this every year,” Tebow said. “This is a special time. It’s loving people with special needs, caring for people with special needs, about who is being loved and who is being served.”
As usual, celebrities came running.
“It’s very easy to say yes,” said Jones. “We all have our tournaments and causes. But when someone from your hometown asks you to come and hang out, it’s a pleasure to do so.”
Allen said Tebow’s personality contributes to the star-studded guest list.
“We get invited to a lot of events … there are a lot of worthy causes, all very important,” said Allen. “But to be honest, we go for the people. If Tim was a terrible guy, certainly no one would go. But he is a great guy, gives back and uses his platform to help so many others. He’s the reason we’re all here.”
Horschel joked about Tebow’s pull.
“When I get older I want to be like Tim … and I am older than Tim,” said the 20145 FedEx Cup champion. “He’s done amazing things. Football is just one thing, but what he does in the real world, where things really matter, is amazing.”
Wuerffel echoed the fact that football may be in Tebow’s past — but to little impact when it comes to the big picture.
“Football is obviously the most known and recognized thing to a lot of people, but when you look at the platform he has, his greatest years are let to come, whether he plays in a Super Bowl or never plays again.”
Paul Finebaum, who works with Tebow on the SEC Network, said everyone there was rooting for Tebow to make it with the Eagles last season. When it didn’t happen, he said perspective was in order.
“We were all devastated when last year didn’t work out,” he said. “But I believe there’s something much bigger for Tim. What is it? Evangelist is a big word. It can mean a lot of things. Tim has that type of appeal. He can do it on a worldwide basis that would really have a profound impact on young people and people of all ages, all over the world.”
Garry Smits: (904) 359-4362