ABC News’ Melinda Arons and Lauren Effron report:
Although Denver quarterback Tim Tebow didn’t lead the Broncos to the Super Bowl, he continues to silence his critics over how he plays the game.
“No matter what happens, you’re always going to have those critics and those haters,” he told ESPN’s Hannah Storm. ”You just have to learn how to deal with that. I think I have and accept that.”
Born in the Philippines to evangelical missionaries, Tebow is deeply religious and wears his evangelical Christian faith on his sleeve, and more controversially, on the field, where he openly prays on his knees at the end of every game. It’s a move that has become so well-known, it’s now a verb — “tebow-ing.”
“The greatest form of flattery is imitation,” he said. ”But just that prayer is being talked about is pretty cool.”
But while his open Christian faith has been an inspiration to some and sparked a national conversation about the power of prayer, it also spawned “Tebow-hating,” a sport in of itself. Many fans and even players say a football game is no place to proselytize. Still, Tebow says he has no plans to change.
“For me, it’s a great opportunity on a public platform to get on your knees and humble myself and thank the Lord for all the blessings he’s put in my life,” Tebow said. “[It] shows you’re putting something else or someone else first. That’s why I do it. I’m pretty sure I’m not the first athlete to get on his knees and pray. But it’s something that I do more for myself than for everybody else.”
One thing even Tebow’s most ardent critics can’t fault him for is his charity work. In addition to his missionary work with orphanages in the Philippines, he regularly brings sick children to his games through his foundation. Tebow brought Joey Norris, a young boy with cancer, to the playoff game against the New England Patriots, and where the Broncos suffered what he called a devastating loss.
“I was extremely disappointed,” Tebow said. “But I still have a kid who is fighting for his life, and I have a choice to make. I can choose to sulk and feel pity after this loss and this disappointment. I can choose to try to go invest in him and try to encourage him and make him smile and be a part of his life. That really changes your perspective as a young man and as an athlete. For me to try to invest in him, he helped me more than I helped him on that night.”
SportsCenter will air a 30-minute special Face to Face with Tim Tebow on Tuesday, Feb. 7, at 10:30 p.m. on ESPN2.