On Sept. 27, 2008, Florida faced fourth-and-1 at the Ole Miss 32-yard line with 41 seconds left. The Gators had the No. 4-ranked team in the country and loads of future NFL talent, including the reigning Heisman Trophy winner, quarterback Tim Tebow. They were supposed to challenge for the national title, not be challenged by unranked teams such as Ole Miss.
But when Tebow was stuffed on a run up the middle, the 31-30 upset was complete.
Being the team’s best and most popular player, Tebow met with the media afterward. With tears still in his eyes, Tebow politely answered a few questions. But then he let loose in a “speech” that has since been immortalized:
Crazy it’s already been 10 years! That’ll make you feel old! #gogators #gatornation pic.twitter.com/IZb9WXah8E
— Tim Tebow (@TimTebow) September 27, 2018
“To the fans and everybody in Gator Nation, I’m sorry, extremely sorry. We were hoping for an undefeated season. That was my goal, something Florida’s never done here.
“But I promise you one thing, a lot of good will come out of this.
“You will never see any player in the entire country play as hard as I will play the rest of the season, and you will never see someone push the rest of the team as hard as I will push everybody the rest of the season, and you will never see a team play harder than we will the rest of the season.
Those words are now engraved on a plaque that rests on the side of Florida’s Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. That’s because Tebow followed through on his promise, leading the Gators on a 10-game winning streak, taking the SEC championship, and capping the memorable season by winning the national championship.
A statue of Tebow has also since been erected at Florida’s stadium, honoring one of the most legendary figures in college football history. Tebow would go on to play just three years in the NFL, a disappointment in his eyes. But he has seen God use him in other mighty ways.
Tebow is an unabashed Christ-follower who has been an inspiration for countless other athletes to boldly share their faith in Jesus. He still works in sports as an ESPN football analyst, and is also pursuing a professional baseball career. But he’s making an even greater impact with the Tim Tebow Foundation, through speaking engagements, and with his best-selling books. His latest book, “This Is The Day,” was released this week.
Through it all, Tebow has proclaimed the name of Jesus — even on the day his Gators fell to Ole Miss. Ten years ago, before delivering a speech that lives in college football lore, Tebow displayed “PHIL 4:13” on his eye black:
“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” — Philippians 4:13 (NKJV)
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