BENTON HARBOR, Mich. Eleven days after the New York Jets cut him, Christian quarterback Tim Tebow told a crowd of about 3,000 at Lake Michigan College that his main goal is to impact lives, whether on or off the field.
And that shouldn't be too hard considering a Forbes.com survey released this week named Tebow America's most influential athlete. Despite the controversy surrounding his public faith, Tebow finished ahead of Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps, who had 25 percent of the vote, Jamaican track star Usain Bolt, who garnered 23 percent of the vote, and Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter, for whom 22 percent of people voted.
"That's a huge honor," Tebow said in response to the survey. "I see it as a great responsibility to be a role model for future generations. That's something I care about more than winning football games. If I can take the game of football and can transcend footballgo to hospitals and make kids smileI'll be doing things that matter."
Although Tebow didn't mention his dismissal from the Jets during his hour-long speech or offer any insight as to what his next move might be, the 25-year-old did talk about finding a life of fulfillment after the game.
"What I want to do with my life is impact lives," he said. "When a kid in a hospital is fighting for his life and I'm trying to win a football game, what really matters? This game isn't as important as a lot of us make it out to be. If I can give him a little bit of hope, I can do something that matters. That's what I want my legacy to be about. That's how I want to be remembered."
Tebow took no questions from the press at the event, which was part of the Economic Club of Southwest Michigan's annual speaker series. During his presentation, he sat on stage and engaged in an easygoing conversation with a moderator, speaking intensely of his competitive nature, his Christian faith, his love of family, and his record-setting high school and college careers.
The closest Tebow came to shedding light on his future as a quarterback was when he repeated one of his favorite sayings: "I don't know what the future holds, but at the end of the day I know who holds my future."