"King" Tebow Holds Court at SEC Media Days

It was hard to tell whether Wednesday was a media day or a coronation at times. Tim Tebow was the King of Day 1 of the 2008 SEC Media Days. Urban Meyer said he loved it when he was getting pushed in the back by security in Times Square because they thought he was trying to get Tim's autograph. They needed security for Tebow in the hotel lobby today too. Yet, through it all he stayed humble.

Tim Tebow played a significant role as a true freshman on Florida's 2006 national championship team, and then became the first sophomore ever to win the Heisman Trophy in 2007. Naturally, reporters ask him different variations of the same question time after time: "What's it like to live a charmed life?" His response makes it hard not to like Tebow, unless he is busy hammering your team, of course.

"Everybody can look and see how easy it is, but it's definitely not that easy. The difference is 'cause not many people want to wake up at 5:00, go through workouts, go speak to young kids, go back, eat lunch, go to class, go to tutoring, go speak at a prison at night, come back. I mean, more people would do those things [but] they just don't want to sacrifice. Sometimes my biggest message to other athletes is, 'Yeah, we know you're great in football, but take that greatness, your platform, use it to influence other people. Use it for good.' I think that's definitely something that our team has really picked up on. We got guys going to the hospitals and doing all kinds of things and really giving up a lot of their free time, changing people's lives. That's much more important than football.

"Sometimes it's hard for people to see because football becomes people's world. It's everything. And then they can't even see outside of it. But if you really look at it, it's just a game that people get very excited about. And I'm one of those people. But fortunately I've been blessed to have the ability to see outside of that and see that, yeah, it's just the game of football, but you can do a lot of special things with that. That's my passion, even more so than football, is what I can do with the platform that football gives me. So that's kind of been my message to other athletes."

When Tebow was young, he was influenced by one of his predecessors at quarterback for the Gators, Danny Wuerffel. Despite all he has already accomplished, Tebow still has dreams to be like Wuerffel. "You know, there's a lot of leaders out there. But, unfortunately, there aren't a lot of good ones. So that's always been my dream and my goal, is to be someone like Danny Wuerffel was to me, to be someone that a parent can say, ‘Hey, this kid did it the right way.' They can say to their kid, ‘I want you to be like them.' That's always been my dream and my goal, more so than winning a trophy or winning a championship."

He is not without his critics. "If people don't believe it, that's fine," he said. "There's always going to be naysayers, people that are going to say it's fake. But that's fine because you can't control everybody. But I can control what I do, my attitude, how I approach the situation. So how I approach the situation is I want to do everything in my power that football gives me to influence as many people as I can for the good, because that's gonna mean so much more when it's all said and done than just playing football and winning championships."

Normally it's the coach who has a positive life- altering effect on his players, but Tebow has even changed the life of his coach by his example this summer, taking the missionary trip. Meyer and his family went on a mission trip this summer at Tebow's urging. "Tim has done a lot of things that opened my eyes, and that's one of them," he said. "To have our children experience that, with three other families, it was a life- changing experience. It's something we're going to, if possible, do every year. In your own little way you made an impact on some people. More importantly, one of my biggest concerns raising a family (is) having a spoiled group of kids. The tendency is to get spoiled sometimes. They weren't spoiled for those five days."

Tebow led by example, taking three mission trips of his own this summer, to three destinations at different corners of the world: the Philippines, Croatia, and Thailand. "All three of those places I got to do a lot of very neat things, preaching in prisons, in schools, in hospitals, in marketplaces." He also helped perform surgeries over there, including one he knew he would get asked about. "I'm sure I'll get asked about the circumcisions, but it was a great experience for me."

As for football, Tebow quickly said he had room to improve, pointing to last season's four losses. "My biggest goal this year as far as football goes was becoming a better decision maker," he said. "What that entails is when I approach the line of scrimmage, it's recognizing defenses faster, getting us into a better play faster. When the play happens, when I'm dropping back, maybe not always have to make the big play, don't always have to run somebody over. Maybe get down - I didn't say slide - but get down or maybe step out of bounds, just be smart with the decisions that I make on the field. That will help out a lot."

He pointed at two recent Super Bowl quarterbacks to make his point. "I mean, that's what separates Tom Brady and Peyton Manning from every other quarterback, is their decision making," he said. "They're not more blessed as far as athletic ability; they just make better decisions on the field. They're more knowledgeable about the game. That's been my No. 1 focus this off season, is become more knowledgeable about the game so I can make better decisions on the field. That's what separates you from average to good and good to great. So that's been my No. 1 focus this year."

LSU fans somehow got a hold of Tebow's cell number, and called him literally around the clock the week before their game. When Tebow stepped into their end zone for a touchdown, he mimed dialing a call on a cell phone to the LSU student body. Asked if he would do it again, he replied, "Absolutely. That was fun. I had fun with it. I enjoyed it. I didn't enjoy not being able to use my phone the whole week, (but) what can you say? College kids, they want to support their university, help their team. It just shows you how crazy some fans can be. I really enjoy the intensity and the rivalry that brings."

Tebow was not the only one bringing down the house. The next reporter to speak asked him, "What is your new number?" …to uproarious laughter by his peers. Tebow didn't miss a step, saying, "I'll just go text the LSU fans."

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