Tim Tebow: a heart of gold

Ben Koepsell, Staff Reporter

When most people hear the name “Tim Tebow,” they immediately think of professional football (the NFL) or prepare to engage in some sort of religious debate concerning his strong Christian faith. What most people don’t know, though, is what kind of person Tebow is off of the football field. Most people see two sides of Tebow—the Sunday afternoon presentation of him on the football field and the Monday-Saturday representation of him portrayed through the media. I’m here to argue there is more to Tebow than openness about his religion and his NFL career. I see a man with intentions to change the world—a man with a heart of gold.

In this day and age, it is almost unheard of for celebrities or athletes to use their time or money in a way that affects society the way that Tebow has done since he was drafted into the NFL two years ago. I think, above anything else, my experience growing up in a small rural town in Wisconsin has allowed me to admire Tebow. His kindness, generosity, and willingness to help people are more important to me than his religion and football career, the less important qualities others tend to focus on.

To help prove my point I polled my Facebook friends and asked what people thought of Tim Tebow. I received most of the responses I was expecting. Comments such as “he is not a quarterback,” “he may not be conventional, but he wins games,” “he is an inspiration to all because of how he stands up for his beliefs,” “he is using his religion to become famous,” and “he is an example that more athletes should follow.”

I knew that most people would respond in respect to his football ability and his religion, things that I don’t care about when talking about Tebow. As I mentioned I grew up in a town where everyone knows everyone and it isn’t uncommon for people to leave their doors unlocked. It is a friendly community, a community where kindness and generosity are the norm. For that reason, it doesn’t matter to me how he plays football or that he is open about his religion because he is a person that I can relate to on a personal level and respect because of who he is and what he does outside of football.

If you don’t agree with me and you need a little more evidence that Tebow is an inspiration and a class act, I have one for you. Every week, Tebow picks someone who is sick, suffering, or, in some cases, dying, and flies them to a Broncos game, home or away. He rents them a car, puts them up in a nice hotel, takes them out to dinner, gets the person and their family pregame passes, meets with them before kickoff, gets them tickets on the 30-yardline close to the field, visits with them after the game, and then sends them on their way with gift baskets. For many, this is a life-changing experience and one most people wouldn’t receive from any other athlete.

Take, for example, after the Broncos defeated the Steelers in what many considered an upset. An ESPN poll had just named Tebow the most popular athlete in America, and it may have been his best game as an NFL quarterback, but where was Tebow after the game? Tebow spent an hour following the game talking with 16-year-old Bailey Knaub about the 73 surgeries she has had so far in her young life. Bailey was diagnosed with Wegener’s granulomatosis, a rare disorder that causes blood vessels to become inflamed, making it hard for blood to flow. It is most common in middle-aged adults, and very rare in children; unfortunately for Bailey, she has it at a young age. In an article by ESPN’s Rick Reilly, Knaub said, “Tim Tebow gave me the greatest gift I could ever imagine. He gave me the strength for the future. I know now that I can face any obstacle placed in front of me. Tim taught me to never give up because at the end of the day, today might seem bleak but it can’t rain forever and tomorrow is a new day, with new promises.”

If that wasn’t enough to convince you, Bailey wasn’t the only person who had a life-changing experience with Tebow. He also brought in Jacob Rainey, a high school quarterback who lost his leg in a scrimmage, nine-year-old Zac Taylor who lives his life in constant pain, and 55-year-old Tom Driscoll, who is dying of brain cancer, among others.

I guess it is safe to say that I am a fan of Tim Tebow, but not because of his football skills or even because of his religion. I am a fan of the person Tebow is off the field and his drive to help people. “The game doesn’t really matter,” Tebow says, “I mean, I’ll give 100 percent of my heart to win it, but in the end, the thing I most want to do is not win championships or make a lot of money, it’s to invest in people’s lives, to make a difference.”