October 10, 2022

Tim Tebow challenges MSU students to find their calling, help others

Therese Apel

All star athlete Tim Tebow and MSU Director of Athletics John Cohen share the stage for conversation at "More Cowbell, More Purpose." (photo by Grace Cockrell / © Mississippi State University)

Tim Tebow, one of the most highly decorated Southeastern Conference quarterbacks of the modern era and a two-time Bowl Championship Series national champion with the University of Florida, told MSU students Friday that he wants to be remembered for helping others, not for his accolades.

“If I’m known as ‘Heisman Trophy-winner Tim Tebow,’ then I’ve missed my mark,” he said.

Tebow challenged MSU students to stay true to themselves, find their calling and make a positive impact on others at Lee Hall’s historic Bettersworth Auditorium. The former National Football League quarterback and professional baseball player was in Starkville as part of his co-hosting duties for the SEC Network’s “SEC Nation,” which aired live from The Junction Saturday before MSU’s game against the University of Arkansas.

Friday’s event, “More Cowbell, More Purpose: A Conversation with Tim Tebow,” was hosted by the MSU Student Association. Tebow and MSU Director of Athletics John Cohen, who moderated the conversation, touched on many subjects important to students—from finding confidence and self-worth to avoiding the pitfalls of social media—while encouraging them to make a difference in others’ lives.

Specifically, Tebow encouraged students to abandon “the one-day life for the this-day life” and begin helping others now instead of delaying until the moment is perfect for them.

“We do not know how many days we have left,” he said. “If all my perspective is focused on ‘one day,’ how many people will I have missed out on? Don’t miss the people you’re around right now.”

Tebow acknowledged his competitive nature but said a life-changing moment in the Philippines with a child local villagers abandoned because of a disability guided him to seek out the “most vulnerable people, not most valuable player trophies.”

Tebow also recalled seeing a malnourished child while he was on a mission trip to Thailand. The child, he said, was wearing a tattered No. 15 jersey from the University of Florida—a replica of his playing jersey. That moment, he said, gave him more clarity about the importance of helping others versus the on-field success he lived.

“He had no idea what that shirt and those trophies meant—they did nothing to help that boy,” Tebow said. “When everyone was telling me I was somebody, this was God reminding me it’s always about people.

“Every single one of us has a platform,” he added. “Be successful, but be significant.”

Tebow was one the of the SEC’s most prolific quarterbacks during the 2006-2009 college football seasons. A two-time BCS national champion in 2006 and 2008, he also accumulated numerous accolades and awards, including a BCS National Championship Game MVP honor in 2008 and the 2007 Heisman Trophy.

The Denver Broncos selected Tebow with the 25th overall pick in the 2010 National Football League Draft. His NFL career included stints with the New York Jets, New England Patriots, Philadelphia Eagles and Jacksonville Jaguars. He also spent five years with New York Mets-affiliated instructional and minor league baseball teams.

After being the subject of numerous books, shows and documentaries, Tebow began his broadcasting career as an ESPN analyst in 2014 and now primarily is featured on the SEC Network’s “SEC Nation.”

Tebow is known for numerous philanthropic activities and organizations, including the Tim Tebow Foundation. Former Florida Gov. Rick Scott honored Tebow with the Great Floridian designation in 2013, which is given to those who have made significant contributions to the progress and welfare of the state.

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