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Tim Tebow has been hired by ESPN to work as a pregame analyst on the SEC Network.

Tuesday December 31, 2013Tebow Ready to Discuss Quarterbacks Instead of Being Topic of Discussion

Tim Tebow has been hired by ESPN to work as a pregame analyst on the SEC Network.

Scott Carter
By SCOTT CARTER
GatorZone.com Senior Writer

GAINESVILLE, Fla. – In some ways it seems only weeks ago that Tim Tebow walked off Florida Field in his Gators uniform for the final time, and only yesterday that he was the biggest story in the NFL.

And in some ways it all seems so, so long ago. The high-speed social media world we live in nowadays has a way of distorting memory and twisting our perception of time lapsed.

Tebow’s UF career ended four years ago. It’s been two years since that memorable playoff win over the Steelers when he was Denver’s starting quarterback instead of Peyton Manning. A few months have already passed since Tebow was cut by New England, perhaps the final shot at his dream of being an NFL quarterback.

Tebow, whose departure from the Patriots tossed him to the sideline in the headlines, returned to the spotlight Tuesday when he answered questions on a media teleconference for 20 minutes about his new job.

Tim Tebow

The 26-year-old Tebow is returning to the SEC in a career move that came sooner than most expected after he was a first-round pick of the Broncos in 2010. Still, the time has come for Tebow to consider his options after football, and ESPN’s offer to serve as a pregame analyst on a show called SEC Nation is an opportunity Tebow said Tuesday that he is ready to tackle.

“This is an awesome opportunity for me because it’s also the start of something,’’ he said. “It’s the start of SEC Nation, which is exciting. It’s fun to be at the ground level of something when it’s just being built.”

Before you think Tebow has surrendered his dream of playing quarterback in the NFL, his multi-year deal with ESPN includes provisions that allow him to continue to chase that dream.

Tebow said he still works out five times a week on developing into a better player and that should an opportunity arise in the NFL, he will certainly consider it. He has turned down recent offers from the AFL and overseas.

“It was important for Tim that he have and maintain the ability to pursue his interests in becoming an NFL quarterback, and that’s something that we were certainly willing to include as part of bringing him on board to this team,’’ said Justin Connolly, senior VP of programming for the SEC Network. “That’s a key piece of this relationship.”

In the next chapter of Tebow’s well-documented life, he will team with veteran host Joe Tessitore on SEC Nation, a traveling pregame show on the upcoming SEC Network that will originate from a different campus each weekend. The SEC Network is set to launch in August.

While Tebow has time to prepare his TV persona for stops in SEC hotbeds such as Tuscaloosa and Gainesville and Athens, he will make his ESPN debut Monday during pregame shows leading up to that night’s BCS National Championship between Florida State and Auburn.

Tebow watched the Seminoles in person at Florida Field a month ago when they defeated the Gators, so he at least has some background knowledge to work from.

As for his new role – discussing players and coaches instead of being the topic of discussion – Tebow sounded optimistic he can do the job in his own unique way.

“I really feel like it’s a great situation and opportunity for me. I know I always want to be around football and hopefully I can do this for a long time,’’ he said. “I would love to continue to be someone that is positive, but also be someone that is objective. I’ve never had a hard time saying what I believe or standing up for something.

“Hopefully I can continue to be that same person as an analyst and sharing what I believe about players, about teams, about games. It just feels like home. Not only does it feel like home, but it feels like my history. I’m still passionate about the game. I think I will always be passionate about the game and passionate about sharing it with fans and viewers who want to understand it deeper.”

As one of the country’s most popular and high-profile Christians, the topic of Tebow’s faith and how that might transfer into his new role was brought up on the call with reporters from across the country.

Connolly said Tebow’s strong faith is part of what makes him such a polarizing figure and that there is a “continuing dialogue between ESPN and Tim” about what role that part has in his job as a TV analyst.

“We hired Tim based on his ability to break down players, games, give a behind-the-scenes look on what it’s like to compete and play in the SEC at the highest level,’’ Connolly said. “That’s what the fans will expect, and that’s what the focus of the relationship is going to be.”

If past results are any indication, SEC Nation will draw huge ratings because of Tebow’s presence. Tebow coverage has been a staple of ESPN’s programing the past several years and often guaranteed huge ratings. He remains a bonanza for website clicks and one of the most iconic sports figures to emerge early in the 21st Century.

Now it’s his turn to opine and discuss the throwing motions of quarterbacks for TV audiences.

Tebow mildly addressed questions related to his comfort level in offering such analysis considering his reputation as a friendly and non-controversial figure. After one of the questions, Stephanie Druley, senior VP of production for the SEC Network, chimed in to assure those doubters what is expected of Tebow.

“He lives, breaths and eats the game,’’ she said. “That’s what you look for in an analyst. I’m confident he will give opinion where it needs to be given. If criticism is warranted, I think he will give criticism, but I think that criticism will be educated and well thought out. I expect him to be a new voice, an exciting voice and a different perspective than we’ve heard before.”

If the Tebow-SEC Network marriage works out longterm and his playing days are indeed over, Tebow said he won’t look back at how his career ended before it truly got started.

The future is calling.

“I’m not sure what’s ahead of me,’’ he said. “I feel like I’m the best that I have ever been as a quarterback right now. I hope I get the opportunity to show that. I don’t have any regrets. Every time I stepped onto the field at practice or a game I gave everything I had. Because I did that I don’t have any regrets.

“I will continue to push myself to become better every single day, not only as a quarterback but also as an analyst,’’ he said. “If I get the opportunity to play quarterback in the NFL, I would love to do so. But I also want to be the best analyst I can be for many years to come.”

 

BONUS QUOTE

You know I’ll always be a Gator but I’ll have to be objective as well. I believe I can do that. It’s always fun to go to Gainesville and be a part of Gator Nation, which I love and will always love. But I’ve got to be objective and do the best job I can. I look forward to that challenge and it will be a lot of fun.” – Tebow on what emotions might be stirred on his first assignment at UF

 

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