Through his college football career at Florida and beyond, Tim Tebow used his star status as a platform to promote his beliefs.
From wearing eye black which quoted Bible verses to doing missionary work in the Philippines, Tebow found ways to convey a message through words and deeds.
Tebow, in Gainesville this weekend for Saturday’s SEC Network SEC Nation telecast, shared mixed thoughts on how athletes have taken more of a voice on social issues in social and conventional media.
“Sports can be an opportunity, hopefully if used the right way, to share certain things you believe in,” Tebow said. “For me, it was also the way that I tried to do it was a big part of it as well.
“You know, obviously that’s a big issue in society and people do it in a lot of different ways. For me it was just something, my biggest dream was to try to be a good role model. And it wasn’t necessarily the way in what I did, and how I talked about it, it was also just in the way I tried to treat people. I know one of my favorite quotes is every day I share the gospel but every now and then I use words. Meaning I shared what I believed, hopefully with the way I treated people.”
Tebow, though, stopped short of saying how he would handle the National Anthem if he were still playing in the NFL, if he would stand or join teammates in locking arms to raise awareness to social justice issues.
“Good question,” Tebow responded with a smile.
Tebow also shared thoughts on Florida redshirt freshman quarterback Feleipe Franks, who will be making his fourth career start on Saturday against LSU.
“Feleipe has shown he can handle some moments,” Tebow said. “I think he’s improving. I think he’s getting used to everything. You gotta remember, he’s kind of still a freshman. So I think he’ll continue to improve. I think something that Luke (Del Rio) did was bring a lot of confidence and maturity to the offense, but I think that’s something that will come with Feleipe.”
Note: The City of Jacksonville has announced that former UF standouts Tim Tebow and Lito Sheppard will be inducted to the 2017 Florida-Georgia Hall of Fame on Oct. 27, as part of the Florida-Georgia weekend.
Tebow, one of the most decorated Gators of all time, starred at Florida from 2006-2009.
A defensive back from 1999-2001, Sheppard was a consensus first-team All-America selection in 2001. He became just the fourth sophomore – and second on defense – in Florida history to earn first-team All-America recognition. In addition to his eight career interceptions, Sheppard posted a perfect 3-0 record against Georgia as a Gator.
The duo will join Georgia running back Knowshon Moreno and linebacker Randall Godfrey as inductees to the Florida-Georgia Hall of Fame. Longtime University of Florida administrator and University of Georgia J. Reid Parker Director of Athletics Greg McGarity will also be inducted.
Created in 1995, the Florida-Georgia Hall of Fame honors and recognizes the memorable players, coaches, and administrators involved in the long-standing rivalry. Over the 22-year history of the Hall of Fame, there have been 95 people inducted including legendary Gators Steve Spurrier, Danny Wuerffel, Jack Youngblood and Jevon Kearse, as well as Bulldog legends Vince Dooley, Herschel Walker, David Pollack and Buck Belue.
Rutledge in town
The SEC Nation broadcast on Saturday morning in not just a homecoming for Tebow, but for former UF journalism student Laura Rutledge, who is in her first year hosting the show.
“We have great producers and directors on the show and I’m really fortunate just to be working with them,” Rutledge said. “This is a new thing. I’ve had some hosting experience but I would still say I’m still pretty young in my career. So to get an opportunity to host this show, it’s a difficult show, but so much fun. And what I found is at the end of the day, what makes us a little bit different is we are just sitting there kind of in a more intimate setting talking football and if you can sit there and talk football with Tim Tebow, Marcus Spears and Paul Finebaum, that’s a pretty good day.”
Rutledge said she accepted the apology of Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton for his sexist remarks toward a female journalist who covered the Panthers.
“When I saw all of that, I felt like, are we still doing this, we’re in 2017 and it feels like every day we’re asking ourselves a question about something going on in the world and it’s sort of a sad commentary,” Rutledge said. “What I would say about Cam is that we all make mistakes, we all do something that we’re not proud of. We all have those moments in which we wish we could just swallow our words and not have said what we said. To come out and be very sincere, I believed him in his apology.”