He has been named player of the year at the Southeastern Conference since 2007, and has led his team to several championships over the course of his career. Known as a dual threat quarterback, he has superb skills in passing and rushing, and his unorthodox method of playing quarterback has awed many audiences and co-players in the field.
But aside from his athletic feats, Tim is also greatly known for public expression of his faith, which he does by “Tebowing,” a neologism inspired by his mannerism of kneeling and praying every time he plays in the field. He is a devout Christian, passionate in sharing his faith not just to his fans, but personally to others as well.
He has appeared in numerous Christian television shows, constantly encouraging not just his fellow believers, but also people from other faiths to always put their trust in the Lord Jesus Christ, just as he did. He always attributes his success to God, and claims to never have gotten anywhere had it not been because of Jesus.
Aside from being a successful football player, Tim Tebow is also a successful philanthropist. He founded the Tim Tebow Foundation as a means of helping kids and adolescents reach their dreams in life by providing them education, support, and financial assistance. His philanthropic work mostly covers a lot of places in the Philippine Islands, where he grew up. He worked with the CURE Foundation to set up a children’s hospital in Davao City, which was named the Tebow CURE Hospital.
Robert and Pamela Tebow
Tim is the youngest son of Robert “Bob” Tebow and Pamela “Pam” Tebow, two Baptist missionaries who moved to the Philippines in 1985. Robert and Pamela met each other while they were studying in the University of Florida in the late 1960s. Robert was in his sophomore year when he first met Pamela, who was in her freshman year. A romantic relationship developed between the two, and after a few years of constantly dating and connecting with each other, they got engaged. Finally, in June 1971, just before Pamela’s graduation, she married Robert. She bore him five children: two daughters, Christy and Katie; and three sons, Robby, Peter, and Timmy (Tim).
The Tebows are devout followers of Jesus Christ. Robert Tebow grew up in a Christian family, and in his youth, actively engaged in the activities of the church. In 1966, he was among those who helped establish the University of Florida chapter of the Campus Crusade for Christ. He attended the University of Florida to study Health and Human Performance and earned his bachelor’s degree in 1971.
After he married Pamela, Robert then entered the Western Seminary to pursue his calling—to become a pastor. After he earned his master’s degree in Divinity (in 1974) and Theology (in 1976), Robert moved to Northeast Florida and served as an associate pastor for Southside Baptist Church from 1979 to 1982. Afterwards, he was called to become the Senior Pastor of Cornerstone Community Church, where he served for the next three years, from 1982 to 1985.
Pamela Tebow was the daughter of an army colonel and due to this during her childhood went with her father in his trips all throughout the world. When she was seventeen, she applied at the University of Florida to study Journalism and Communications. An excellent student, Pamela graduated with honors from the university in 1972.
In 1985, Robert and Pamela, acting on the calling that they claim to have received from the Lord, decided to move with their four children to the Philippines to become missionaries. Upon their arrival, the Tebows established a ministry that catered to the Filipino community. The ministry became successful, and the church that Robert planted grew steadily, even in the midst of the turmoil that erupted during the 1986 EDSA Revolution, which was a peaceful revolution to oust the then sitting President Ferdinand Marcos.
Prior to her conception, Pamela contracted a disease known as amoebic dysentery and fell into a coma. Through the prayers and support of her family and friends in the church that they established, Pamela was healed from the disease. When she was recovering from the illness, Pamela found out that she was pregnant.
A Difficult Pregnancy
While the family was overjoyed to hear about Pamela’s pregnancy, there was a problem—the pregnancy occurred during the time when Pamela was being treated, the medications that were used affected the developing fetus, causing it to experience a severe placental abruption. The doctors informed both Pamela and Robert that there was a very slim chance for the child to survive (which would result in a stillbirth), so they recommended performing abortion on the child before he affected the mother.
Pamela and Robert were greatly distressed. Pamela had recently gone through a life-threatening ordeal with her illness, and now her pregnancy was at a great risk. And yet, in spite of all the seemingly insurmountable challenges that stood before them, Robert and Pamela, supported by their family and friends (from both the church and the secular world), chose to hold on to their faith and believe that the child was going to be okay. Despite the doctors’ attempts to get her to perform abortion (to remove the risk of her dying while giving birth), Pamela chose to take the risk and give birth to her child.
It was not easy, and there were a lot of voices trying to discourage them, but in the end their faith was proven true. On August 14, 1987, Pamela gave birth to Tim, at the shock and amazement of the doctors who observed Pam’s pregnancy. Tim was born with a slightly large head, which would later on cause his siblings to tease him as ‘big head’ Timmy.
Early Childhood in the Philippines
Tim’s spent his early childhood in the Philippines, where as early as three years old began being homeschooled by his parents. Their life in the Philippines was not exactly what most would call pleasant—the country just had a major change in leadership, and there were numerous coup d’état attempts from the military. Poverty struck at every turn, and crime was rampant on the streets. And yet, amidst all the injustice and suffering that the Tebow family witnessed around them, they never once doubted that God would take care of them.
In fact, Tim’s dad, Robert, and older brothers actually participated in numerous charitable activities like feeding programs and establishing orphanages to help alleviate the poor situation of the community they were in. As a young child, Pamela would often tell Tim, in spite of him not yet understanding, that she believed in him and that he would someday become someone who would make a great impact in the world.
Falling In Love with Football
In the early 1990s, Robert was called back to pastor a church in the United States. Due to this, he left the church he established to one of the pastors he trained and brought his family back to Florida. Tim was homeschooled by his parents so they can not only focus on their children’s needs, but they could also instill the Christian values and principles that would later on help young Tim in living his own life.
Tim first encountered American football when his dad took him to a local football game sometime when he was around four or five years old. He immediately developed a liking to the game and from that time on aspired to become a very good football player himself. He wanted to play for the football team of the local school, but since he was homeschooled, he had quite a dilemma.
Fortunately, in 1996, a law was passed in the state of Florida that allowed homeschooled students to participate in sport events in high school. This, law, which would later be named after Tim, specified that students who were homeschooled could join a local high school team in the school district where they live. This gave Tim a chance, so he attended Trinity Christian Academy to play tight end in the school’s football team.
In 2003, Tim moved from his hometown and lived in an apartment near St. John’s Country so he could play in the football program of the Allen D. Nease High School, which was during that time, going through a series of struggles. He played quarterback for the team, and surprisingly led them to a string of successful games that started quite a controversy for the fact that, as someone who was homeschooled, he had the ability to pick the school where he was going to play football. It was in his junior year in Nease that Tim gained national attention for his amazing competitiveness, as well as his running and throwing skills.
At one point during his junior year, Tim injured his right leg during the first half of the game. Initially, Tim thought he was just having a bad cramp, so he continued playing to the second half, even at one point rushing for a twenty-nine yard touchdown. It was not until after the game when he and his team realized that Tim was actually suffering from a broken fibula. Because of this, Tim was held out for the remainder of his junior season to recuperate; however, in spite of not being able to play, Tim was still named as the Player of the Year (Florida), and became a potential for a major college football pick.
When Tim was a senior at Nease, he led the school’s football team to win the state title, with him being given All-State honors. Tim was also hailed as Florida’s Mr. Football, the high school All-American by the magazine Parade, as well as the Player of the Year. He also participated in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl (which was held in Texas) that featured 78 of the best senior high school football players in the United States.
Making a Name in Football
After graduating from high school, Tim received offers for athletic scholarships from different schools. He eventually chose to attend the University of Florida to play for the Florida Gators football team in 2006.
In his first year at the team, Tim was a backup player, second string behind Chris Leak, another promising player in the team. Despite being a backup player for the rest of the season, Tim was among the most significant contributors in the Florida Gator’s success. In his college debut, a game against the Southern Miss, Tim rushed for a touchdown based on a designed quarterback scramble. The following game, he led the Gators in rushing yards against UCF.
He also led the team in a series of victories against the Tennessee Volunteers, the LSU Tigers, and Ohio State. By the end of the 2006 season, Tim had the second-most number of rushing yards in the Gators. One of his shining moments that year was the game against the LSU tigers, where Tim made all three touchdowns by the Gators.
During the 2007 season, Tim received one of his greatest accomplishments in his college football career—the Heisman Trophy, which was awarded to the most outstanding college football player of that year. That year, Tim also moved from the back to the front, becoming a starting quarterback for the team. Tim set several records in both the regional and national standards, which included the most number of touchdowns and the most number of rushing touchdowns.
By the end of the 2007 season, Tim had the second highest passing efficiency. During the Heisman Trophy voting, Tim received the highest points, 254 points ahead of Darren McFadden, another famous college football player. Tim’s receiving of the trophy also marked the very first time that a sophomore won the trophy. Aside from the Heisman Trophy, Tim also received the Davey O’Brien Award, which was to commemorate the best quarterback in the United States.
Because of Tim’s performance in the Gator’s 2007 season, his coach, Urban Meyer, decided to take some workload off Tim’s shoulders by the 2008 season. Although Tim led his team to numerous victories, he was playing with a bruised shoulder and an injured hand. At the Playboy Preseason All-American, Tim was recalled from the team to avoid conflict with his faith.
Tim started playing again sometime after the event, and in November led the Florida Gators in a record-breaking victory against the Georgia Bulldogs. Aside from setting records, Tim also led the Gators in winning one of the most important championships of college football—the Southeastern Conference Championships. After securing the second place by beating the Alabama Crimson Tide, the Gators took the SEC Championship from the Oklahoma Sooners for a score of 24-14 the following year.
In 2007, an ESPN feature titled “Outside The Lines,” which was a documentary about the life of homeschooled athletes, prominently featured Tim as a wonderful example of proving that those who were homeschooled can excel in athletics. When Tim heard about his nomination for the Heisman Trophy, he remarked:
“That's really cool. A lot of times people have this stereotype of homeschoolers as not very athletic—it's like, go win a spelling bee or something like that—it's an honor for me to be the first one to do that.”
Tim did not win the Heisman Trophy for the 2008 season, but he did receive the Maxwell Award, which made him the second person to have ever won the award twice. During a national championship celebration in January 2009, Tim made an announcement that he would not make himself eligible for that year’s NFL Draft, but would continue playing for his school’s team for the 2009 season. The following day, Tim had his right shoulder operated on to remove a bone spur that had been causing him pain.
In his last year with the Florida Gators, Tim continued to lead the team through a streak of victories against Charleston Southern, Troy and Tennessee; although during the game Tim failed to throw a touchdown, the first time ever since he was a freshman.
In the game against Kentucky, Tim suffered a serious injury when he was hit on the chest by Taylor Wyndham, a Kentucky defense player, which caused Tim’s head to hit the knee of his fellow team mate Marcus Gilbert, who was then wearing a hard knee brace. After falling to the ground, Tim was taken to the University of Kentucky Chandler Medical Center. Fortunately, no bleeding was found, and Tim was released from the hospital the next day. In spite of this setback, Tim continued to shine in both his school and football career.
In October 2009, during the game against the Georgia Bulldogs, Tim broke the SEC career record by running his 50th and 51st touchdowns. In his last game with the Gators, Tim led the team against Cincinnati in the Sugar Bowl for a score of 51-24, and set a new record for the Bowl Championship Series. By the time he graduated in December 2009, Tim was not only one of the greatest players in college football history, but he was also among the best students in the University.
Bible Verses in Tim’s Eye Black
Tim’s eye black also became controversial as he had biblical verses written over them. During the BCS Championship Game in 2009, Tim put “John 3:16” on his eye black, which caused a wave of over 90 million searches on Google within the next 24 hours.
Tim also wore other verse references in various games, and all those verses generated very high numbers of searches in Google and other search websites. In response to this, the NCAA created a rule banning all messages on eye paint in 2010. While they stated that the rule was not established specifically for a particular player or team, many have since dubbed this rule as the “Tebow Rule.”
After leaving college, Tim entered the 2010 NFL Draft. And although Tim’s performance in his college football career showed very promising results, his potential in playing for the NFL was largely debated upon. There were several people who critiqued Tim’s performance, claiming that Tim’s style of play in the NCAA was not going to work in the NFL. Yet in spite of these critical statements, Tim did not lose confidence in himself nor did he waver in his resolve of joining the NFL.
Tim eventually joined the Denver Broncos after being picked by the team in the first round of the NFL draft. According to Josh McDaniels, the Broncos’ head coach:
“We want players who are tough, smart, have great character, love football, and are passionate about coming here and helping the Broncos win a championship. I think both players fit that role, and I think that's something that we're looking for in all of our players. What we're trying to build here is team chemistry and a team that cares about winning and winning a championship, and that's it.”
McDaniels took a liking to Tim, and stated that Tim had everything that he was looking for in a football player. In response to this, Tim said in an interview that it was his greatest joy to repay McDaniels for believing in him.
Tim’s first year in the Denver Broncos quite mirrored the first year of his college football career, playing as a backup. His first game on the NFL, which pitted the Broncos against the Oakland Raiders, was a disappointment, with the Broncos losing 39-23 to the Raiders. In spite of the loss, Tim set a new record for the longest touchdown for a quarterback in his first run in the NFL history, as well as the highest passer rating for a professional debut. Tim’s first winning game was against the Houston Texans for a score of 24-23, which earned him his NFL Rookie of the Week, given by Pepsi.
The Tim Tebow Foundation
In 2010, Tim established the Tim Tebow Foundation, which was a way for him to give back to the very career that helped him become successful, by helping others achieve success in their own lives. Prior to this, Tim has already been supporting numerous causes, such as his father’s evangelistic association and the Uncle Dick’s Orphanage, an orphanage based in the Philippines.
The following year, Tim collaborated with the CURE Foundation to plan a construction of a children’s hospital in the Philippines to take care of sick children. Named the Tebow CURE Hospital, the establishment would be a center for state-of-the-art facilities that would cater to the needs of the sick children in the community. Construction began on 2012, and is expected to be completed by mid-2013.
In the 2011 season, during the opening game against the San Diego Chargers, Tim was placed as a backup for Kyle Orton, the Broncos main quarterback. A poor performance made by Orton on the field resulted in Tim replacing him. Even though Tim managed to lead the Broncos into a tight comeback, they eventually lost the game to the Chargers for a score of 29-24.
This initial disappointment did not stop Tim and the Broncos to grab victory. In the next game against the Miami Dolphins, Tim was included in the starting line-up as the quarterback. The team struggled in the first half of the game, being down 15-0, but Tim led the Broncos to recover from the deficit, eventually winning the game 15-18, making the Denver Broncos the first team to win a game after having fifteen points lost in three minutes.
Tim continued to improve not just his playing skills, but also his teamwork, which enabled him to lead the Broncos in a winning streak, defeating opponents, such as the Oakland Raiders, the Kansas City Chiefs, the New York Jets, the Minnesota Vikings, and the Chicago Bears. In these games, Tim surprised many longtime football fans by besting many of the more experienced players, such as Willis McGahee and Eric Decker, and by breaking several records in the NFL history.
Through My Eyes becomes a Bestseller
In May 2011, Harper Collins, a publishing company, released Tim’s autobiography entitled “Through My Eyes,” which detailed Tim’s early life and his college football experiences. The book became a bestseller, and by March 2012 had stayed in the New York Times bestseller list for 24 weeks total. “Through My Eyes” became the top sports book, as well as the bestselling religion book of that year.
Tim’s 2011 season with the Denver Broncos did see several disappointing defeats. After their longtime winning streak throughout the 2011 season, the Broncos suffered a string of defeats in spite of Tim and his teammates giving their best. In the game against the New England Patriots, in spite of Tim rushing two touchdowns and accounting for 287 total yards, the Broncos lost for a score of 41-23. In the weeks that followed, the Broncos lost against teams, such as the Buffalo Bills, the Kansas City Chiefs, and the Oakland Raiders.
In spite of the losing streak that they were experiencing, the Denver Broncos did not lose heart in their desire to win the championship. Tim used the losing games as a means of re-evaluating his playing style, and trained to adapt to the changing circumstances in the game. The Broncos’ vice president John Elway told Tim that he was playing tentatively and that he had to “pull the trigger.”
In the game against the Pittsburgh Steelers on January 8, 2012, Tim made a career high and led the team to victory for a score of 29-23. He made a record breaking 31.6 yards average and 316 passing yards, which resulted in the evoking of John 3:16, causing it to be the top search item on Google by the following morning. However, the following week, the Broncos were once again defeated by the New England Patriots, which effectively removed the Broncos from the playoffs. At the end of the season, John Elway stated that he would put Tim into training camp for the 2012 season.
Traded by the Denver Broncos to the New York Jets
In March 2012, Tim was traded by the Denver Broncos to the New York Jets. Although it was initially announced that Tim would be on special teams, the Jets’ head coach Rex Ryan contrasted this, stating that Tim would also participate in the wildcat formation on offense. Tim was anticipated to regularly play in every game, but many fans were disappointed that Tim was not often used in the team. His presence on the Jets line-up caused a controversy where the fans (with the help of local media) called for Tim to replace Mark Sanchez, another well-known player in the team.
In April 2012, Tim spoke to a crowd of 20,000 during the Easter Sunday celebration. In his speech, he spoke briefly of his transfer to the New York Jets, and how everything was for the honor of Jesus Christ. He also encouraged the people to unite together under one God, and to be excellent role models for the next generation.
During a game against the Seattle Seahawks, Tim suffered two broken ribs. This was not confirmed and revealed to the public until two days before the game against the New England Patriots, where Tim continued to actively participate.
Tim has received dozens of critical statements from various sports commentators and talk show hosts—not only for his style of football play, but also for his faith in Jesus Christ. In fact, there have even been shows that were dedicated to criticizing Tim’s person and faith, but amazingly, Tim has been able to shrug them off and continue to shine. This can greatly be attributed to Tim’s natural optimistic nature, which was further fuelled by his faith.
Currently, Tim continues to perform excellently in the field, leading the Jets into several wins over the course of the 2012 season. In interviews with him, he stated his intentions of becoming a pastor someday, but continues to rely on the leading of the Lord as to where his career would go. He is also actively participating in many of the activities that his organization does, and often goes to speak to the children to encourage them to always have faith in God and to believe that they can become what they want to be.
Organizations and Programmes Supported
- Tim Tebow Foundation
- The W15H Program
- CURE International Partnership
- Timmy’s Playrooms
- Uncle Dick’s Orphanage
Awards and Achievements
- 2006: Became the SEC All-Freshman Team
- 2006: Became the SEC Freshman of the Week
- 2007: Received the Davey O’Brien Award
- 2007: Awarded the Heisman Trophy
- 2007: Received the Maxwell Award
- 2007: Named Player of the Year by Sporting News
- 2007: Received the Harley Award
- 2007: Named Quarterback of the Year
- 2007: Became the First-team Academic All-American
- 2007: Named the National Offensive Player of the Year by Rivals.com
- 2007: Became the First-team All-SEC
- 2007: Named the Offensive Player of the Year by Associated Press SEC
- 2007: Received the James E. Sullivan Award
- 2007: Named the Roy F. Kramer SEC Male Athlete of the Year
- 2007: Received the ESPY Award for Best Male College Athlete
- 2008: Became the First-team All-America
- 2008: Received the Disney Spirit Award
- 2008: Received the ESPY Award for Best Male College Athlete
- 2008: Received the Manning Award
- 2008: Received the Maxwell Award
- 2008: Named the Offensive Player of the Week at the Southeastern Conference
- 2008: Became the Most Valuable Player at the SEC Championship Game
- 2008: Became the First-team All-SEC
- 2008: Named the Offensive Player of the Year at the Southeastern Conference
- 2008: Named the Scholar-Athlete of the Year at the Southeastern Conference
- 2008: Won the Wuerffel Trophy
- 2008: Became the First-team Academic All-American
- 2009: Won the William V. Campbell Trophy
- 2009: Became the First-team Academic All-American
- 2009: Received the Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award
- 2009: Became the First-team All-SEC
- 2009: Named as the Offensive Player of the Year at the Southeastern Conference
- 2009: Named as the Most Outstanding Player at the Sugar Bowl
- 2009: Named the College Football Player of the Decade by Sports Illustrated magazine
- 2010: Named the Pepsi NFL Rookie of the Week (twice, both week 10 and week 16)
- 2011: Awarded the GMC Never Say Never Moment of the Year