Tebow feted in Tallahassee for national title
Published: Thursday, March 5, 2009 at 1:51 p.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, March 5, 2009 at 1:51 p.m.
TALLAHASSEE - Gov. Charlie Crist, no slouch in the popularity polls, may have met his match Thursday when Tim Tebow and the Florida Gators came to Tallahassee to be honored for their latest national football championship.
Tebow threw a dozen passes with Crist on the front driveway of the Governor’s Mansion and signed helmets, T-shirts, hats and other Gator paraphernalia as he and his entourage ate breakfast with the governor and were feted on the House and Senate floors.
"All Florida is incredibly proud of your accomplishments," Crist told the Gator gathering that also included University of Florida President Bernard Machen, football coach Urban Meyer, linebacker and team captain Ryan Stamper, UF athletic director Jeremy Foley and three UF trustees.
"Even this Seminole heart beat a little harder when I watched you guys win your second national championship in three years," Crist said, referring to Florida’s 24-14 victory over the University of Oklahoma in early January.
Meyer told the breakfast group that he enjoyed coaching the team that ended up with a 13-1 record.
"I love this team," Meyer said. "This was an extremely unselfish team that handled their business. Were we perfect on and off the field? No, but we were pretty close."
And Meyer added a little more to the Tebow legacy, explaining two of the major reasons why the junior quarterback decided to put off an NFL career and return to Florida for his senior year.
Meyer said Tebow’s return wasn’t related to his draft status or the need to make some money — pointing to the 14-year-old Ford Thunderbird that the quarterback drives, adding "it's not a nice one."
"It has nothing to do with self gratification," Meyer said. "It has something to do with something that he believes in. If you get to know Tim, when he believes in something: watch out."
Instead, Tebow decided to return for another year after he found out UF had received permission from the NCAA to let Tebow raise money for an orphanage that his family is involved with in the Philippines, Meyer said.
As UF students begin their annual spring break this weekend, Tebow is scheduled to return to the Philippines for another mission next week. The second reason had to do with the Biblical verse that Tebow wrote on his eye black during the national championship game.
All through the 2008 season, Tebow had used Philippians 4:13 — "I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me" — on his eye black. But on the championship game day, Tebow switched to John 3:16 — "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." After the game, John 3:16 became the top Google search item on the Internet.
And a few days after the game, as Tebow's family and Meyer talked about the quarterback's future, his mother, Pam Tebow, told her son that his role in increasing the awareness of the Biblical verse showed he had more influence as a college quarterback than he could have as a professional athlete.
"When she said that, I looked into Tim's eyes and knew we had our quarterback coming back for one more year," Meyer said.
Tebow was in Tallahassee last year where he was honored for having won the Heisman trophy — given to the nation's top collegiate football player.
"This year in coming back, it's a lot more special," Tebow said. "I got to achieve something with the team." And as his coach explained, Tebow said his role in influencing others' lives was more important to him than his next career move.
"I think that's something we all have to keep in mind," Tebow said. "It's not all about me. It's all about who can I help."
If he wanted to, state Sen. Steve Wise, R-Jacksonville, said the young quarterback could have a successful political career.
"He would be great," Wise said. "He really has the qualities you need to have in politics. But I think he has bigger and better fish to fry."
House Rules Chairman Bill Galvano, R-Bradenton, said Tebow would be "a tremendous politician."
"Just the message — it's so genuine. It's not contrived. You can tell he's speaking from the heart," Galvano said, adding he has even seen the positive influence that Tebow has had on his own sons.
"If he ran for office, I would be the first one to write him a check," Galvano said.
PROCLAMATION DECLARING UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA FOOTBALL DAY
WHEREAS, the University of Florida defeated the University of Oklahoma in the 2008 FedEx Bowl Championship Series National Championship game; and
WHEREAS, this marks the University of Florida’s second BCS National Championship in the last three years; and
WHEREAS, the success of the University of Florida football team has resulted in a tremendous amount of pride for the Sunshine State; and
WHEREAS, it is important to recognize this incredible accomplishment by the University of Florida’s student athletes; and
WHEREAS, head coach Urban Meyer and his staff deserve credit for their hard work and dedication to produce not only a championship football team, but young men who excel in the classroom and in the community;
NOW, THEREFORE, I, Charlie Crist, Governor of the State of Florida, do hereby extend greetings and best wishes to all observing March 5, 2009 as University of Florida Football Day.
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