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January 6, 2009
Florida's Tebow is truly larger than life
MIAMI - Look at Tim Tebow. Look at him!
He's 6 feet 3, 240 pounds of All-American dream, a larger-than-life icon whose presence makes the 2009 BCS Championship Game, well, a little larger than life.
And for that, we thank you, Tim Tebow.
College football's biggest star gets to play on the game's biggest stage Thursday night at Dolphin Stadium. Whatever you do, don't miss it. Cherish this moment. Program your DVR. If you're stuck in the 1990s, dust off your VCR and videotape it.
This is Michael Jordan in the NBA Finals in 1993. This is Reggie Jackson in the 1977 World Series. This is Wayne Gretzky in the 1985 Stanley Cup Finals. This is Joe Montana in Super Bowl XXIV.
"I haven't been paying too much attention to any of the hype, watching too much TV at all," Tebow says. "I don't really care what it's about. All I know is that we're going to go out there and we're going to play our football and hopefully win. That's our goal, and I don't really care too much what the hype is about."
But you should. This will be one of those games featuring one of those players that your grandfather used to tell you about before he tucked you in bed. Only now, you will be able to tell your grandchildren about the day you watched Tebow in what could be the defining game of his career.
"I think he's a great player, a great player," Oklahoma defensive coordinator Brent Venables says. "All the accolades, the attention, the Heisman – it's all well-deserved. We don't sit and compare, but he's a much different animal than the other guys we've seen. He brings a physical presence, brings an emotional presence, brings the ability to execute in all the key situations.
"He doesn't flinch. That's what you love about him. He's a competitor."
And special, too. His "Superman" nickname doesn't do justice to Tebow, whose off-field actions dwarf his extraordinary on-field feats. This is a guy who goes on mission trips to the Philippines on spring break while peers are on a mission to get loaded in Daytona Beach.
Pinch yourself because it's all so wondrously true. Tebow seemingly has been transported from the black-and-white, "Leave It To Beaver" era. He's a gee-whiz kid with a body any Big Man On Campus would envy, and his skills have transformed the way the quarterback position is played. And he circumcises impoverished children when he gets a spare moment.
"He's one of those guys that's primo," Florida free safety Major Wright says. "He does everything right. He's one of those guys that's just a leader on and off the field. He helps you on and off the field. … He kind of leads the Bible study, study groups, anything. Tebow is that guy."
That's just who Tebow is. A living, breathing, real-life role model who really cares for something bigger than himself. What a novel idea. Charles Barkley has to hate this guy.
Tebow knows the visible platform that his athletic skills have given him. Now, it's up to us to be like Tebow and grasp at least some of the selfless attitudes that dominate his life. Stuff like we aren't on this planet to see how many fancy cars we can drive, how big of a house we can buy or how much money we can make. In the end, it's Tebow's good deeds off the field that will be his legacy. But it's his funky jump touchdown passes and bulldozing runs that will have us mesmerized Thursday night.
"You look at the physical presence of him and all of that," Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops says. "He's a great player."
No doubt, Stoops' defense has cooked up some special schemes not to stop Tebow – that can't be done – but to try to neutralize him. There will be confounding blitzes from unexpected places, pass coverages dressed in disguise that aim to confuse.
Can Tebow feel the pressure?
"Pressure is not having to win a football game; pressure is having to find your next meal," Tebow says. "From being in a lot of places that I've been with my dad and on mission trips, you kind of find out what true pressure is and what just is a game. Even though we love it so much, football is still just a game.
"A lot of people bleed over it and love it, and I'm one of those people. But at the end of the day, I know what's more important, and football is not more important than life and pressure is definitely not football. So I think when you can put that in perspective, I think it really gives you a much better outlook."
And it gives us a whole lot to watch – and remember. For that, we thank you, Tim Tebow.
Tom Dienhart is a national senior writer for Rivals.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.