Heisman trophy winner and first-round NFL draft pick Tim Tebow is currently playing minor league baseball for the Syracuse Mets, the Triple-A affiliate of the New York Mets. Tebow, 31, played three seasons in the NFL, most notably for the Denver Broncos. Tebow continues to work as a college football analyst for ESPN and has written several books, with his latest being “This is the Day.” Tebow also hosts CBS’s new show, “The Million Dollar Mile.”
The Mets were in town for a three-game series with the Louisville Bats May 7-9, so we sat down with Tebow to talk about a variety of topics.
What has the transition from football to baseball been like?
In 2016, the New York Mets signed Tebow to a minor league contract to play outfield. Last season, Tebow made the Eastern League All-Star game as a Double-A player before being called up to the Met’s Triple-A team.
“It’s a hard transition because it’s totally different,” Tebow said. “From all the skills, training, mindset, how you prepare, but what’s similar is you love what you do every day. It’s important in our lives (that) we go after what we’re passionate about—not just the best opportunity or where we’d make the most money.”
Because you’ve said “no” to so many great opportunities, how do you make decisions?
Although he has turned down things most people can only dream of having the chance to do, Tebow still surrounds himself with accountability.
“It’s a really tough process,” Tebow said. “First, I pray about it a lot. Secondly, I have wise counsel. I learned that from my dad when I was very young. He would make us learn Proverbs. For a lot of decisions, I have my close family and a few friends. I have some advisers and pastors. I have this whole group that I go to. I remember one big decision I had. I went to eight pastors, Pastor Dave Stone being one of them. It was hard for me to see, so I asked and seven of them said ‘no’ and one said to ‘wait.’”
Do you ever feel the pressure of being Tim Tebow?
Society tends to paint a picture of Tebow as the man who can do no wrong and doer of good deeds.
He unapologetically looks up, not within.
“It’s always been a big goal for me to be a role model for young kids,” Tebow said. “There’s a fine line between being a role model and sharing our brokenness and that we’re all fallen. But it’s not a role model to say, ‘Look at me,’ but rather to say, ‘Hey, I’m so flawed but I just know someone who’s not. His name is Jesus and He loves you. Don’t be like me, be like Him.’”
With such a big fan base, how do you remain humble?
On and off the field, Tebow is one of the most polarizing people in the world.
In all of his success, Tebow hasn’t let the noise of the crowd cause him to compromise his Christian character.
“Humility is something that is a lifetime work,” Tebow said. “You’re never there. The closer you think you are there, the farther you are away. A big part of being humble is being dependent on God. It’s still knowing, ‘What I have, You gave this to me and let me borrow this.’ When I start acting like this is me and what I did, I lose gratefulness.”
Tebow said having an eternal perspective keeps his purposes in line with the bigger picture.
“That’s one reason I believe in mission trips so much,” Tebow added. “When you get on a plane and land somewhere, it doesn’t matter how much money you have. They could care less what you’ve done in sports or how many followers you have on social media. When all that matters is that person is longing for their next meal and hoping for tomorrow and you’re in places like that, so many superficial things go away.”
Despite your hectic schedule, how do you keep people a priority?
Tebow wears a lot of jerseys.
He is an athlete, author, founder of the Tim Tebow Foundation, ESPN college football analyst and CBS TV show host.
Frequently surrounded by stars, Tebow doesn’t play favorites, but pursues the forgotten.
“It’s trying to understand what matters most and that’s loving God and loving people,” Tebow said. “To make those choices regardless of how you feel. We don’t have to live based on our emotions but our convictions. God really opened my eyes for certain types of people. For me, those are people with special needs, orphans, the least, last and the lost. When you look at what we do for our foundation, it’s for them. We felt like that was our fight, for people who can’t fight for themselves.”
How have your parents helped shape you?
Not only did Tebow’s mom, Pam, risk her life to give birth to him, but his parents have exhibited sacrificial love throughout their lives.
“The greatest thing my parents did was make their relationship with Jesus so real,” Tebow said. “My dad has given his entire life to people that most of them he’ll never meet. Every morning when he was having his breakfast, the Bible would be open and he would have 400 notes written down. The way my mom treated people and had time for people—everyone, no matter who, even if we were like, ‘Mom, we’ve got to go.’”
Talk about your upcoming wedding plans.
On Jan. 10, at his family farm outside Jacksonville, Florida, Tebow asked Demi-Leigh Nel-Peters to marry him.
Peters was named Miss Universe in 2017, and the two met at a Night to Shine event for people with special needs.
“We actually met through Night to Shine,” Tebow said. “So that’s what brought us together. She’s just incredible. We’re looking forward to this next chapter. I’m trying to support what she decides on the wedding. We still have to figure out not only what country to have it in, but what continent.”
Last month, Peters’ 13-year-old sister, Franje, died suddenly from cerebellar agenesis, which greatly limited her ability to walk, talk and develop.
What’s the weirdest experience you’ve had with a fan?
From tattoos, Tebowing and trespassing charges to John 3:16 posters, petitions and newspaper ads, “Tebow Mania” is typical.
“I can tell you just because it happened right here at the hotel a couple of days ago,” Tebow said. “I’ve seen it many times, but I met a guy with my face tattooed on his calf. He was a really nice guy.”