Home Schooled Star Quarterback An All-American off the Field Too
By Pat Shannan
It was late November, and the football stadium in Gainesville was jammed as Florida Gator fans anticipated witnessing a memorable occasion. While this would be but another victory, the pre-game buzz was over the final home appearance of their Tim Tebow, who sportswriters and coaches have called “the greatest.”
When No. 15 came jogging out of the dark tunnel, cameras flashed, the band played, and 91,000 erupted into a long tribute that soon welled the eyes with tears of pride of most there and many in the national TV audience. As those cameras scanned, at least one placard was seen to say, “Tebow for President.”
When Tebow reached the midfield bench, the bear hug inflicted by head
coach Urban Meyer, not to mention his tear-stained cheeks, reflected the admiration that he and the fans have had for this young man for the past four seasons. In that time, Tebow had become an icon.
As a freshman, Tebow was already the backup quarterback who often outshone the senior starter on Florida’s team, which won the national championship that year. In 2007, he became the first sophomore to win the Heisman Trophy—awarded to the nation’s most outstanding college football player—in its more than 70-year history. As a junior, he led the Gators to another national championship; and as a senior this year, he almost made it again before a stronger Alabama team beat the Gators for the SEC title.
But as AFP has reported before, Tim Tebow is more than a football hero.
Tebow’s parents, Christian missionaries who established multiple missions in the Philippines before he was born, instilled a strong religious grounding in their youngest of five children that governs his life. While Papa Bob was tending to his mission work, Mama Pam was home schooling the brood. She speaks proudly of the academic achievements of her children. Through four years of college Tim maintained a 3.66 grade point average.
Young Tebow has been a prison and orphanage minister, visited the poor in hospitals and leper colonies, and launched his own missionary work in the Philippine Islands during his summer breaks from college. He exhibits biblical citations on the glare-reducing black patches beneath his eyes, and has never done a celebratory “jungle dance” after running for one of his 57 touchdowns, the most ever by a college quarterback.
Package that wholesome decency into a six-foot three- inch, 240-pound body that can traverse 100
yards in less than 10 seconds, and then add instinct, caring for others, natural leadership and an inextinguishable will to win, and you have not only a winning athlete but a young man who was raised for greatness.
Tebow for President? Maybe—in 20 years or so. At this year’s Super Bowl on Feb. 7, Tebow and his mom are scheduled to make a pitch on national television for the activist Christian group “Focus on the Family.”
Certainly, the “right to life” messages will strike a nerve with many, but with Tebow having been a potential victim of the abortion forceps himself—for health reasons, his mother was advised to end the pregnancy in 1987—there can be no better spokespeople for the right to life than this remarkable mother and son.
DOING RIGHT UNTO OTHERS
When Tebow was introduced and walked the red carpet with a new, pretty blonde on his arm at the ESPNU College Football Awards ceremony in December, the news people were all abuzz. How she got there became the real story. Turns out the young lady, Kelly Faughan, was born with neurological and hearing defects in 1989. At age 12, she developed an unexplained body tremor, causing her to tremble and shake uncontrollably. Then at Christmastime in 2008, Kelly, of Clifton, Va., was diagnosed with a brain tumor and got an operation. This affected her speech, but not her positive attitude.
Kelly is a Florida Gator fan and especially a Tebow fan. Her dream was to go to the awards ceremony (held this year at Disney World) in hopes of meeting him. Following the operation, her parents—Jim is an attorney in northern Virginia—committed to make the trip happen for her, but her mom, Janet, told her not to get her hopes up because meeting her hero might not happen.
The family took the sojourn, attended a special reception hour the night before the awards banquet, and as luck would have it, Kelly did get to meet Tim. She wore an “I Love Timmy” button in hopes that he would notice it and talk with her. He did, but the results went far beyond her wildest expectations. When Tebow heard her story, he asked her if she would like to go to dinner with him the next night. The “dinner” was the awards ceremony, and when Tebow’s name was announced to the crowd, Kelly entered on Tim’s arm.
Janet Faughan told AFP that Tebow is “the real thing,” and was particularly impressed with his gentlemanly manner and Christian kindness to Kelly and the rest of the family.
“It could only have happened at Disney World to be believed,” she said.
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(Issue # 6, February 8, 2010)