A cut above

He led the Florida Gators with a steady hand during the 2007 football season, then exhibited an even steadier hand during the offseason ... much to the relief of some young boys in foreign lands.

After spending last fall slicing up opposing defenses with surgical precision, Gator quarterback Tim Tebow spent June and July slicing up foreskins in much the same manner. Believe it or not, the reigning Heisman Trophy winner's summer vacation included performing several circumcisions during missionary trips to dirt-poor areas of The Philippines, Croatia and Thailand.

"All three of those places I got to do a lot of neat things – preaching in prisons, in schools, in hospitals and in marketplaces," Tebow said during Wednesday's session of SEC Media Days at Hoover, Ala.

Grinning smugly, he added: "I'm sure I'll get asked about the circumcisions."

Actually, he wasn't. The predominantly male assemblage of reporters had no desire to hear about matters that struck so close to ... uh, home. Instead, they listened intently as Tebow exhibited that he is even greater as a person than he is as a football player.

While many college students were working on their tans in June and July, he was working for the betterment of mankind. Most impressive is the fact he did so, not to make headlines, but simply to make the world a better place.

"It was a great experience for me," he said, smiling enthusiastically. "It's something I enjoy doing ... I love doing. It's something I'm very passionate about.

"The reason I do it is because it's more important than football to me.... I can take what I do playing football as a game and change people's lives with it."

There could be no more cynical audience than a group of veteran sports writers, yet the overwhelming respect they have for Tebow was apparent. One writer posed a tongue-in-cheek question about winning the national championship in 2006, winning the Heisman in 2007 and saving the free world in 2008, but managed to do so in a tone more playful than snide.

Tebow's critics portray him as a guy for whom everything has come easily – popularity, success, visibility, fame, etc. In fact, this perception is way off base.

"It's definitely not that easy," he said. "Not many people want to wake up at 5, 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 and come back. More people would do those things (but) they don't want to sacrifice."

Tim Tebow is more than willing to sacrifice; he is EAGER to sacrifice. Basically, he's the ultimate team player – not just in terms of his fellow Gators but in terms of his fellow man.

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