PHILADELPHIA (Christian Examiner) – Tim Tebow "never gives up," according to his pastor, Mac Brunson, of First Baptist Church in Jacksonville, Florida.
Reacting to an announcement the 27-year-old member of his church signed a one-year deal Monday with the Philadelphia Eagles, Brunson said there is something "winsome, appealing, almost compelling about a life that never gives up."
A University of Florida Heisman Trophy winner, Tebow early on became known for using his platform in football to express his own deep faith.
In 2010 just before he was selected by the Denver Broncos in the first round of the 2010 NFL Draft, other Christian NFL players supported a controversial Super Bowl ad in which he appeared with his mother, Pam Tebow.
Traded to the New York Jets during the offseason in 2012, Tebow received little playing time and was released the same year. He was signed by the New England Patriots in 2013 and then cut from the team after two months.
At that time, he tweeted on social media: "I will remain in relentless pursuit of continuing my lifelong dream of being an NFL quarterback."
In 2014, just after he was hired as an ESPN college football analyst on the SEC Network, Tebow preached a message at the 28th annual Jacksonville Pastors' Conference and lightheartedly engaged preachers—and hundreds of teens—poking fun at memories of his childhood performances at First Baptist when he was Superman, Goliath, and the butt of a camel.
Then, in T-Mobile ads that aired on Super Bowl Sunday about a week after he spoke, Tebow made light of the fact he was without an NFL contract. He took on roles such as a bull rider, a rock star, and a firefighter.
Brunson said Tebow is an example to believers and non-believers alike, to stay encouraged, committed and on task.
"He is not the Energizer Bunny, or Superman – no, he is real," Brunson said. "I think this is why the NFL can't let him go as hard as many have tried."
Reflecting on the man and his faith, Brunson said the words of Winston Churchill to his Alma Mater, "'Never, never, never, never give up,' could be written over the life of Tim Tebow."
Reciting the words of Christ in Mark 13:13, Brunson said, "You will be hated by all because of My name, but the one who endures to the end, he will be saved."
That is Tebow, according to Brunson -- the football player, and the man.
"I don't think I have ever met anyone who embodies more the admonition of the Apostle Paul to 'endure hardship,' like Timmy," Brunson said affectionately. "He has not endured it with a Spartan grimace, but with the grace and joy of a man who walks in the deep waters with His Savior."