In the late 1960s Tebow's parents—Pamela Elaine (née Pemberton) and Robert Ramsey Tebow II—met while attending the University of Florida. During that time, his mother was a freshman and his father was a sophomore. The couple married on June 12, 1971, before Pamela's graduation from the university. In 1985, the family moved to the Philippines where they served as Baptist missionaries and built a ministry. During the Tebows' stay, Pamela contracted amoebic dysentery and fell into a coma. While recovering, she discovered that she was pregnant. The medications used to treat Pamela caused a severe placental abruption. Doctors expected a stillbirth and recommended an abortion, which was illegal in the Philippines even in severe cases; the Tebows decided against it. On August 14, 1987, Pamela Tebow gave birth to Tim Tebow in Manila. When Tim was three years old, his family moved from the Philippines to Jacksonville, Florida.
Timothy Richard Tebow (/ˈtiːboʊ/; born August 14, 1987) is an American football tight end for the Jacksonville Jaguars of the National Football League (NFL) and former baseball player. He played college football as a quarterback for the University of Florida, winning the Heisman Trophy in 2007 and appearing on BCS National Championship-winning teams during the 2006 and 2008 seasons. In the National Football League, Tebow played quarterback for the Denver Broncos and the New York Jets. He also played minor league baseball as an outfielder in the New York Mets organization. Tebow is known for his outspoken Christian faith as well as his athletic prowess.
Before the 2007 season had even come to a close, Florida coach Urban Meyer stated that he would likely use two quarterbacks during the 2008 season to take some of the workload off of Tebow's shoulders. Tebow led the Gators in rushing in 2007 but also had to play through a bruised shoulder and broken non-throwing hand. Before the 2008 season even started, Tebow had his name pulled from consideration for the Playboy Preseason All-American team because it conflicted with his Christian beliefs.
Tebow accepted an athletic scholarship to attend the University of Florida and play for coach Urban Meyer's Florida Gators football team from 2006 to 2009. While he spent his freshman year as a backup, eventual career highlights at Florida include winning the Heisman Trophy in 2007, leading the team to a BCS championship in 2008, and a 13–1 season in 2009. The Gators' coaches selected him as a team captain in 2008 and 2009, and he is the only three-time recipient of the Gators' most valuable player award, having been chosen by his teammates in 2007, 2008, and 2009.
Tebow was the subject of an ESPN "Faces in Sports" documentary. The segment was titled "Tim Tebow: The Chosen One", and focused on Tebow's home school controversy and missionary work in the Philippines, his athletic exploits, and the college recruiting process. Tebow was also featured in Sports Illustrated on the "Faces in the Crowd" page. In 2007, he was named to the Florida State Athletic Association's All-Century Team that listed the Top 33 football players in the state of Florida's 100-year history of high school football. Despite family ties to the University of Florida, where his parents met as students, Tebow considered other schools, including the University of Alabama. One of the reasons he gave for choosing Florida was coach Urban Meyer's spread option offense, an offense for which Tebow was deemed an archetypal quarterback. Prior to enrolling at the University of Florida, he spent three summers in the Philippines, helping with his father's orphanage and missionary work.
On January 7, 2007, Tebow was featured prominently in an ESPN Outside The Lines feature on home-schooled athletes seeking equal access to high school athletics in other states. Because a home-schooler's access to public and private school athletic functions varies by state, Tebow and former defensive end Jason Taylor (who was allowed to play at his local high school in Pennsylvania) argued in favor of extending the right to play for local teams to more states. Upon becoming the first home-schooled athlete to be nominated for the Heisman Trophy, he remarked, "That's really cool. A lot of times people have this stereotype of home-schoolers as not very athletic – it's like, go win a spelling bee or something like that – it's an honor for me to be the first one to do that." Tebow received the 2008 Quaqua Protégé Award as outstanding home-education graduate.
On December 8, 2007, Tebow was awarded the Heisman Trophy, finishing ahead of Arkansas's Darren McFadden, Hawaii's Colt Brennan, and Missouri's Chase Daniel. He was the first sophomore to win the Heisman Trophy. He garnered 462 first-place votes and 1,957 points, 254 points ahead of the runner-up, Arkansas running back Darren McFadden. He finished the regular season as the only player in FBS history to rush and pass for at least 20 touchdowns in both categories in the same season. He had 32 passing touchdowns, and 23 rushing touchdowns. Tebow's rushing touchdown total in the 2007 season is the most recorded for any position in SEC history. The total also set the record for most rushing touchdowns by a quarterback in FBS history. Tebow became the third Florida player to win the Heisman Trophy, joining Steve Spurrier and Danny Wuerffel.
On November 1, 2008, playing against the Georgia Bulldogs, Tebow ran for his 37th rushing touchdown, breaking the school record previously held by former Florida running back Emmitt Smith. Tebow helped lead the Gators to a 12–1 record in 2008. After clinching the SEC East title, the team played for and won the SEC title in the 2008 SEC Championship Game against the Alabama Crimson Tide. The win secured the #2 ranking in the final BCS standings, which earned the Gators the chance to play the #1 ranked Oklahoma Sooners in the 2009 BCS National Championship Game, which they won 24–14.
Tebow became the Florida Gators' starting quarterback during the 2007 season, when he became the first college sophomore to win the Heisman Trophy. In 2008, Tebow led Florida to a 13–1 record and its second national championship in three years, and was named the offensive MVP of the national championship game. The Gators again went 13–1 in 2009, his senior year. At the conclusion of his college career, he held the Southeastern Conference's all-time records in both career passing efficiency and total rushing touchdowns, appearing second and tenth (respectively) in the NCAA record book in these categories.
Tebow finished third in the 2008 Heisman Trophy voting, with Oklahoma quarterback Sam Bradford taking the top spot followed by Texas quarterback Colt McCoy, despite Tebow receiving the most first-place votes. He won the Maxwell Award in 2008, only the second player to ever win the award twice.
On January 11, 2009, at a national championship celebration held at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium, Tebow announced that he would not make himself eligible for the 2009 NFL Draft, but would instead return for his senior season at Florida. A day later, he had surgery on his right shoulder to remove a bone spur in an effort to reduce chronic inflammation.
On October 31, 2009, while playing against the Georgia Bulldogs, Tebow ran for his 50th and 51st rushing touchdowns, breaking the SEC career record previously held by former Georgia running back Herschel Walker. His penultimate collegiate game, the 2009 SEC Championship, saw him once again facing the University of Alabama. Tebow threw for 245 yards and a touchdown and led the team with 63 yards rushing, but the Gators fell 32–13 and lost their chance to play for a second consecutive national title. Florida beat Cincinnati 51–24 in the 2010 Sugar Bowl the following January. In what was Tebow's last college game, he completed 31-of-35 passes for 482 yards and three touchdowns and accounted for four total touchdowns and 533 yards of total offense, which set a record for a Bowl Championship Series game. He graduated from the University of Florida in December 2009.
In 2010, a new rule for the next NCAA football season banned messages on eye paint. This rule was dubbed "The Tebow Rule" by media.
Tebow envisioned a foundation to give back to others during his college career, and he, along with other University of Florida students, created "First and 15", raising funds for Uncle Dick's Orphanage in the Philippines, founded by his father's nonprofit association, the Bob Tebow Evangelistic Association. He also raised money for Shands Hospital pediatric cancer center in Gainesville and a Disney trip for disadvantaged children. Upon graduation from University of Florida, Tebow launched the Tim Tebow Foundation in January 2010. In 2013, Tebow was designated a Great Floridian by Florida Governor Rick Scott in recognition of his “major contributions to the progress and welfare" of Florida.
A nationwide controversy surrounded Tebow's decision to appear in an ad funded by the socially conservative organization Focus on the Family that was broadcast on February 7, 2010, during Super Bowl XLIV on CBS. There were two 30-second commercials which included Tebow's personal story as part of a pro-life stance. The abortion issue was not specifically mentioned in the ad. Pro-choice groups criticized the ad, while pro-life groups supported Tebow.
In 2011, Tebow was the first quarterback to be featured in ESPN's "Year of the Quarterback" series. The documentary, titled Tim Tebow: Everything in Between, followed him from the 2010 Sugar Bowl to the 2010 NFL Draft. It premiered on January 6, 2011. On November 8, 2011, the documentary was released on DVD.
On May 31, 2011, HarperCollins released Through My Eyes, an autobiography that Tebow co-wrote with author Nathan Whitaker. Tebow details his early life growing up in Jacksonville and the Philippines, as well as his experiences as a college football quarterback. By March 4, 2012, it had spent 24 weeks on the New York Times best seller list. It was named the #1 sports book of 2011 and the best selling religion book of 2011. Tim followed his memoir with a young readers’ edition titled Through My Eyes: A Quarterback’s Journey, also co-written with Whitaker.
"Tebowing" is a neologism for the act of kneeling on one knee in prayer specifically with one's head bowed and an arm resting on the one bent knee, a form of genuflecting. It is derived from Tebow's propensity for kneeling and praying. The origin of the phrase is credited to fan Jared Kleinstein, who posted a picture with friends on Facebook, in which they mimicked a pose of Tebow following the Broncos' comeback overtime victory over the Dolphins on October 23, 2011. The popularity of the picture led Kleinstein to set up a website showing pictures submitted by people depicting various interpretations of "Tebowing" all over the world. After two-and-a-half months, the site received 20,000 photograph submissions and 20 million page views from 2 million unique visitors. The New York Times wrote "it can be hard to tell whether [people Tebowing] are celebrating or mocking [Tebow] for his virtuous ways."
After the season, Elway confirmed that Tebow would be the Broncos' starting quarterback going into training camp in 2012. Despite on-field successes by the Broncos under Tebow, he finished the season with the lowest passing completion rate in the NFL (reaching 50% in just four of his 14 games) which led many to question his potential as a quarterback at the professional level. Tebow's persistent fumbles also created uncertainty about his future as a quarterback.
Pittsburgh mayor Luke Ravenstahl Tebowed as part of a bet with the mayor of Denver following the Broncos playoff victory over the Steelers in 2012. On October 9, 2012, Tebow was awarded the trademark to "Tebowing" after winning a legal battle with two fans who had expressed interest in trademarking the name.
After the Broncos signed free agent Peyton Manning, Tebow was traded to the New York Jets on March 21, 2012, along with the Broncos' 2012 seventh round draft pick, in exchange for the Jets' fourth and sixth round picks. Jets special teams coordinator Mike Westhoff stated that Tebow would be used on special teams, while head coach Rex Ryan and offensive coordinator Tony Sparano stated that he would also be used in the wildcat formation on offense. The presence of Tebow throughout the season, in which the Jets struggled, created a controversy as the fans and media called for Ryan to bench the inconsistent Mark Sanchez in favor of Tebow.
An Easter Sunday crowd of roughly 20,000 in Florida listened to Tebow on April 8, 2012. He only briefly mentioned his move from Denver to New York. "Kind of got traded. I'm on another team—excited to be a Jet," Tebow said, adding, "Regardless of what happens, I still honor my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, because at the end of the day, that's what's important, win or lose. ... We need to get back to one nation under God, and be role models for kids."
In 2013, Tebow collaborated with headphone maker Soul Electronics to create his own signature line of headphones. He launched a line which he called the 'Jet'.
Westhoff was highly critical of the Jets' use of Tebow in a January 2013 interview on WQAM radio in Miami.
On April 29, 2013, Tebow was released by the Jets. He had thrown only eight passes and rushed 32 times in his one season with the team.
The New England Patriots signed Tebow on June 10, 2013, the day before the team's mandatory minicamp; Tebow signed a two-year contract with no guaranteed money, although it did have playing time-based incentives in 2014. The move reunited him with Josh McDaniels, who had resumed his positions as Patriots offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach. Tebow played in the first two of New England's preseason games, against the Eagles and the Buccaneers; he completed just five passes in both games, was sacked several times and intercepted once, intensifying criticism of his football acumen. He went 6-for-11 for 91 yards, throwing a pair of touchdown passes and one interception, and gained 30 yards on six carries against the New York Giants, but he also was sacked four times. He threw a total of two touchdown passes and two interceptions in the preseason and had a passer rating of 47.2 and completed 36.7% of his passes. He was released from the Patriots on August 31, 2013, the day NFL teams were required to cut their rosters to 53. After being cut, he publicly thanked the Patriots organization for the opportunity and stated: "I will remain in relentless pursuit of continuing my lifelong dream of being an NFL quarterback."
Though he began his broadcasting career in December 2013 on the SEC Network, Tebow continued to seek opportunities to resume his career as an NFL quarterback.
On December 30, 2013, Tebow was hired by ESPN as a college football analyst. He appears mainly on the SEC Network as co-host of SEC Nation, a travelling pre-game show, and contributed to ESPN's other platforms as well; Tebow made his debut on ESPN during the 2014 BCS National Championship Game. He did not give up on playing in the NFL, however, as his contract allowed him to continue to pursue opportunities as a player.
Tebow was asked to co-host ABC News' Good Morning America on January 31, 2014, two days before Super Bowl XLVIII, and was joined on the morning show by Eli Manning.
Tebow signed a one-year contract with the Philadelphia Eagles on April 20, 2015, and he was in competition with Matt Barkley for the Eagles third-string quarterback job. Tebow played all four games in the preseason with no starts, going 21-of-36 for 286 yards, two touchdowns, and one interception, while rushing for 82 yards and a touchdown. He was released by the team on September 5, following the fourth preseason game.
In 2016, Tebow decided to pursue a career in professional baseball. He signed a minor league contract with the New York Mets and played in their organization as a left fielder and designated hitter, until retiring in 2021. After retiring from baseball, Tebow returned to football as a tight end in 2021 when he signed with the Jaguars.
In an episode that aired on February 4, 2016, Tebow competed against The Vampire Diaries actress Nina Dobrev on Spike's Lip Sync Battle. He emerged victorious with performances of "Take Your Time" by Sam Hunt and "Eye of the Tiger" by Survivor.
In early August 2016, Tebow made announcements that he was interested in pursuing a career in professional baseball and invited all 30 Major League Baseball teams to his open tryout at the end of August. Tebow had not played baseball full-time since 2005, his junior year in high school, when he was an all-state player and the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim expressed interest in drafting him had he played his senior year. Additionally, he had a tryout with and received interest from the Los Angeles Dodgers prior to the 2016 Major League Baseball season. On August 9, Tebow received contract offers (without tryouts) from two minor independent professional teams: the Schaumburg Boomers of the Frontier League and the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs of the Atlantic League of Professional Baseball. On the day before his tryout, Tebow was also offered a contract by Águilas del Zulia, a team in the Venezuelan Professional Baseball League that plays winter baseball. Tebow held his tryout on August 30 at Dedeaux Field in front of 40 MLB scouts (from 28 of the 30 MLB teams), Dodgers scouting director Billy Gasparino, and 50 members of the media.
On September 8, 2016, Tebow signed a minor league contract with the New York Mets and participated in the Mets' instructional league. In his first at bat with the organization, on September 28, 2016, Tebow hit a home run on the first pitch. The Mets assigned him to the Scottsdale Scorpions of the Arizona Fall League, where he batted .194 in 70 plate appearances, with 20 strikeouts in 62 at bats.
Tebow signed a multi-year extension of his contract with ESPN in 2017. His new contract allowed him to continue to pursue his pro baseball career.
Tebow spent most of 2017 spring training in the Mets' minor league camp, with a few appearances in major league camp. He began the 2017 regular season with the Columbia Fireflies of the Class A South Atlantic League. On April 6, 2017, Tebow hit a home run in his first at bat for the Fireflies, playing against the Augusta GreenJackets. He batted .222 with three home runs and 23 runs batted in for Columbia. On June 25, the Mets promoted Tebow to the St. Lucie Mets of the Class A-Advanced Florida State League. Once again he homered in his first day with his new club, St. Lucie, on June 28. Tebow had a 12-game hitting streak between July 3 and 14. Tebow's performance at the Class A level prompted New York Post columnist Mike Vaccaro to deem him a legitimate pro prospect. With Tebow on the roster, the St. Lucie Mets saw their single-season attendance record grow, with an accumulated attendance of over 122,000 as of August 28, 2017. Tebow finished the year at St. Lucie hitting .231, with 5 home runs and 57 strikeouts, in 216 at bats. Tebow expressed interest in returning for another season in 2018.
On January 19, 2018, the Mets announced that they would invite Tebow to major league camp. Despite a poor showing in spring training (1-for-18 with 11 strikeouts), the Mets organization promoted Tebow to their Double-A team, the Binghamton Rumble Ponies of the Eastern League. On April 5, Tebow again hit a home run in his first at bat for a new team; with two men on base, he hit the first pitch over the right-field wall. On June 29, Tebow was named to the Eastern League All-Star Game; at the time, he was batting .261 for the season and .323 in his last 21 games. In the All-Star Game, held on July 11, Tebow went 1-for-4 as the East team's designated hitter.
In November 2018, the Mets assigned Tebow to the Syracuse Mets of the Class AAA International League. He spent spring training in 2019 with the New York Mets, and returned to Syracuse to start the 2019 season. On May 18, 2019, the Syracuse Mets held a Tebow bobblehead giveaway for the first 1,000 fans in attendance. Between June 28 and July 5, 2019, Tebow hit three home runs over an AAA six game stretch for the Syracuse Mets, his best performance as a professional baseball player.
On January 10, 2019, Tebow announced his engagement to Miss Universe 2017 and South African model Demi-Leigh Nel-Peters. The couple were officially married during a 30-minute ceremony in South Africa on Monday, January 20, 2020.
Tim Tebow was executive producer along with his older brother Robby Tebow, and actor in his first movie Run the Race which was released on February 22, 2019, in the U.S. This film is an inspirational sports drama with a football theme.
On July 21, 2019, Tebow injured his left pinky fielding a ball in the outfield, requiring eight stitches. As a result, he missed the remainder of the 2019 season.
Tebow accepted an invitation by the Philippines national team to play on their 2021 World Baseball Classic team. He was eligible to play for the Philippines as he was born there. He was scheduled to play in the qualifying round in March 2020 in Arizona, but the tournament was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Honoring his commitment to his religious beliefs and his humanitarian work, Liberty University awarded an honorary Doctorate of Humanities to Tebow on May 15, 2021.
On May 20, 2021, after spending six years out of football, Tebow signed a one-year contract with the Jacksonville Jaguars to play tight end.