When rumors that Tim Tebow might be traded from the Denver Broncos started growing amidst the drama surrounding Peyton Manning’s move last week, I paid extra attention to ESPN. Like many of you, I’ve followed his career closely and traced the never-ending media coverage about his outspoken faith, his generous charity efforts, and of course, the highs and lows of his football performance both in college and the NFL. I even reviewed Tebow’s book, Though My Eyes, for SixSeeds last year, which remains in the top 20 on the New York Times Best Sellers list ten months after it was released.
“How could the Broncos get rid of him after he essentially saved their season?,” I thought. I’m no sports analyst and I sometimes forget sports is a business, but even hearing the “trading” terminology over and over again makes it sound like the players are simply commodities to be utilized with no regard for their own hopes and dreams and desires.
As soon as the on-again off-again deal between the Broncos and the New York Jets was finalized, the media wasted no time in projecting how Tebow would do in the Big Apple. They focused on everything from a potential rivalry with quarterback Mark Sanchez to how Tebow’s faith would fair amidst all the temptations of New York City. I couldn’t help but feel sorry for Tebow, who was not only traded from his team but also seemed suddenly thrust into this unrelenting media circus surrounding the move. To add to the intensity and excitement, the Jets decided to hold a press conference Monday and sent Tebow out alone to handle the more than 200 reporters gathered on the Jets practice field.
I watched the 35-minute press conference and was blown away by Tebow’s cool, calm and collected nature, and the confidence with which he handled each question. In the midst of this crazy atmosphere, Tebow once again demonstrated true joy and tremendous wisdom. Even many of his critics were blown away and kudos started coming in from all over Twitter. “Tim Tebow is winning this press conference,” tweeted ESPN’s Skip Bayless, while Todd Jason of The Jet Report admitted, “As a person, how can you not like Tim Tebow?”
So what can we learn from the press conference? Here are 5 things that we can all cultivate and teach our kids:
1) Respect Authority.
Throughout the presser, Tebow constantly thanked his new coaches and expressed excitement to work with them and learn from them. He also acknowledged his former coaches very graciously and wished the Broncos the best moving forward. In a culture where celebrities often express bitter criticism of those in authority or seek to “get back” when things don’t go their way, this was particularly refreshing.
“It was having football coaches that believed in you, having football coaches that saw ability in me, and having coaches that I really respected for how they coach the game, for who they were.”
“They went away that they thought was best for the organization. I’ll never blame them for that… There’s no ill will towards the Broncos, Peyton Manning or anybody. I wish them nothing but the best.”
2) Be Grateful for the Opportunities You’ve Been Given.
Although many might look at this trade as a less-than-ideal situation, Tebow demonstrated tremendous gratitude and it is evident that he doesn’t take anything for granted. He views each new step as an opportunity to work hard, do his best, and have an impact on those around him. Quite a contrast to our entitlement society where pride and assumption rule the day.
“I’m looking forward to my time in New York and my time as a Jet. I’m so honored and humbled to be a Jet. I’m so thankful that they wanted me. I’m so excited about meeting my teammates.”
3) Embrace Life’s Challenges and Live in the Present.
If you’re familiar with Tebow’s story, you know that his life – as successful as he’s been so far – has not been without a series of never-ending challenges. Even as a young player he fought to convince people that he could play the Quarterback position, and his doubters have been vocal every step of the way. Yet Tebow seems to thrive off the challenges and embraces life in the here and now, rather than dwelling on the past or speculating about the future.
“It will be exciting to watch and see how [the Broncos] do. But I’m worried about being a Jet and I’m excited about being a Jet. This is where I want to be.”
4) Don’t Worry About Things Beyond Your Control.
It sounds so simple, doesn’t it? Yet how much of our energy and emotions are spent on worrying about things we have absolutely no control over? For a high profile athlete in the professional sports world where every move is scrutinized and every word dissected, you’d think Tebow’s trade would be characterized by pressure and tension. Yet he’s obviously learned to differentiate between his own duties and the responsibilities of others and only worry about the former, making the best of whatever situation he’s dealt. As La Shawn Barber wrote amidst the trade uncertainties, “Tim Tebow knows his future.”
“Ultimately I’m just going to be myself and just have fun with it and honestly not worry about what I can’t control. It’s something I learned early on at Florida is if you can’t control it, don’t worry about it. Honestly, I’m just going to try to be the best teammate, try to be the best football player that I can be and try to set a good example. Besides that, I’m not really going to worry about too much else.”
5) Proclaim Your Faith Boldly, Live It Out.
Authenticity is an increasingly rare commodity in the world of sports, which is why people find it so refreshing to see someone who speaks from the heart and lives out those priorities day in and day out. “This dude seems so real. That’s why he’s so popular,” tweeted Jay Crawford of ESPN.
We all know about Tebow’s strong Christian faith and his many public statements about his Biblical beliefs. So when questioned about whether he’ll have to be careful about spreading his faith in New York and in the locker room, it was encouraging to hear Tebow emphasize that – why he’ll never shy away when approached about it – he understands that actions speak much louder than words when proclaiming the Gospel message.
“When I’m asked about it, I won’t be ashamed of saying that I serve my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. In the locker room, it’s not something that I’m super outspoken about. It’s just that’s who I am and that’s how I live… I think the greatest way to share the Gospel is by acting it and by them seeing who you are as a person. That’s how I approach it. It’s not by what I say, it’s more about how I act and who I am as a person. I think the greatest way you can have an impact on people’s lives is your integrity, character and how you go about handling yourself.”
Whether or not you’re a football fan, these are five qualities we would all do well to develop. And those of us who may be facing unexpected transitions or less-than-ideal circumstances can find inspiration from this quote in Tebow’s memoir: “How you respond is important. Do you put your tail between your legs, or do you find the next challenge and press on?” A strong exhortation to keep in mind as we move forward. As for Tebow, I’m excited to see how God continues to expand his impact and influence… the story goes on!