Tebow balancing faith, fame and football with Jets

By Dennis Waszak Jr.

Associated Press

Published: Tuesday, Aug. 14 2012 9:00 p.m. MDT

Even people who don't follow sports know all about "Tebowing," the pose the quarterback made popular by praying on one knee on the sideline during big moments in games. The fact that many do it for laughs doesn't offend Tebow. At least, he says, prayer is being talked about.

"Maybe beyond anything else in my life, I want to be a great role model," Tebow said. "I don't want someone to say they regret what they did because they followed me. If anything, I want them to say that I was someone who led them in the right direction, was a good role model and because they knew me or watched me, their life was better. That's my goal."

That approach is a big reason so many people love Tebow.

It's also why there are plenty who dislike him. There are skeptics who say he's too good to be true and his image merely a well-designed public relations touchdown.

"You just want them to meet those kids we help, you know?" Tebow said, his tone turning serious. "And you want to see how it makes them feel. Honestly, I can't let people like that affect me or worry about them. Those are few and far between, and honestly, they should be more worried about something else other than why they're mad at me for trying to help someone."

There are constant questions and rumors about his sex life and who he's dating, and people trying to play matchmaker. Going out in public is also a challenge, where having a quiet meal is preceded by scouting missions to find a restaurant with seating that's more private than most.

He doesn't complain about it. He accepts who he is, and what everyone expects him to be.

"It definitely can be tough, but at the same time, I don't want to let the media or the world affect how I live," he said. "I really feel like it hasn't to this point, and I don't want to let it start."

Wide receiver Chaz Schilens drew the assignment of being Tebow's dorm partner during training camp. For nearly three weeks, Schilens has gotten to see what being Tim Tebow entails.

"It amazes me," Schilens said. "I asked him one day if he just ever stops and wants to get away, and he says, 'Nah.' He's in a fortunate position in his life and I think he's able to see beyond it, and see how what he does can help other people. I think he embraces it, and I don't think it's as much of a burden as it might seem to be to a lot of other people."

That's how Tebow approaches his faith, and he doesn't proactively seek out teammates to push what he believes on them. Instead, he goes about his business and lets his teammates see what he's all about.

"He's a great guy and really just what you expect," said defensive lineman Mike DeVito, also a devout Christian. "I have a lot of respect for him. I've gotten to know him and he definitely walks the walk."

There are some who have their doubts about whether Tebow can maintain his lifestyle while playing in New York, a tantalizing city with bright lights and huge distractions. He laughs at that suggestion because, sure, New York is bigger than other cities he has lived and played in. But temptations are everywhere, he says, and his faith is strong enough to withstand every test that comes his way.

"When I became a Jet," Tebow said, "I looked at it like, besides the fact I'm going to a great team with coaches that I like and players that I respect, I'm going to a city where I'm going to have a platform to hopefully do a lot of great things and maybe change a lot of people's lives and put smiles on kids' faces and brighten some days.

"When it comes down to it, that's what it's all about."

Follow Dennis Waszak on Twitter: twitter.com/DWAZ73

Online: bigstory.ap.org/NFL-Pro32 and twitter.com/AP—NFL

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