JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Tim Tebow seemed surprised one of his fans saw footage of him playing ping-pong in Las Vegas recently.
The former University of Florida star and Denver Bronco had played a world champion, in fact. "He's really good!" he said, laughing.
A rare moment to whip Superman, but somebody had posted it to YouTube. How much more famous can you get?
Recently, at his Dreams Come True foundation office, Tebow discussed his life with the Broncos, dating and his own current role models.
On his heroes: His parents and pastor always are on the top of his list of role models. His admiration also goes now to Jacksonville native Brian Dawkins, a fellow player on the Denver Broncos, who he said is one of the best safeties around and also a great team leader.
On the Gators' prospect for this coming season: Tebow's focus is on the passion and enthusiasm of the new coach. He said he's great at getting players to rally around him and that is key.
On the NCAA ban on players wearing messages on their eye black: Of course, Tebow is well-known for putting Bible verses under his eyes. When he put John 3:16 on his eye black, according to several reports, it drew 94 million hits on Google, the hottest search of the day.
Tebow was pleased that people would be that interested and said people sent messages to UF, his house and even the Broncos, asking questions and trying to give him feedback.
"They were pretty cool," he said. Tebow never dreamed the impact would be so great when he first started writing verses under his eyes, he said.
He can understand the side of the NCAA, but he believes saying, "I love you, Mom" or making some personal statement should be allowed. In fact, he said, it's about teaching "leadership" and initiative.
On his new book, "Through My Eyes:" The book is slated to come out May 31, and Tebow said he was comfortable with its author, Nathan Whitaker, following him around 24/7 to capture his daily life.
"Honestly, I didn't want to write a book coming out of college," Tebow said. But, "so many other people were writing all these other books about me" that he decided to put out a version from his perspective.
The book contains a behind-the-scenes look that no camera's ever captured. It reveals what's in his mind while he is playing - what he's thinking before a jump pass or why he chose John 3:16 for his eye black.
Whitaker has degrees from UF and Harvard Law School and worked as an administer for the Jaguars.
On choosing Denver: Tebow put a lot of prayer into the decision to go to the Denver Broncos. Why does he think God chose Denver for him? "That's a good question," Tebow said, but "I'm excited to find out why."
Sometime you don't know for a while, he said. But no doubt Denver's "an amazing place" and his rookie year has been packed with dramatic changes, he said, especially the firing of the head coach.
Tebow, in his typically positive manner, said he's looking forward to working hard this fall, assuming the lockout is over, and earning his spot on the field.
"Jobs are not won or lost in January. That happens in August," when players put on the pads. Tebow said he has a solid relationship with the new coach, John Fox.
Was he insulted the Jaguars didn't pursue him in the draft? Tebow chuckles a bit. "No, I wasn't." If that wasn't to be, then "that's absolutely fine," he said.
On Colorado snow: You might think the cold weather would be a slap to his system.
But Tebow said, "It's easier to throw in the snow." At Florida Field it seemed it rained half the time and the ball would get slick in the rain, he said. The snow in Denver "is not too bad" and the cold really isn't "too cold."
On that John Elway comment: Now on the Broncos executive staff Elway said, "Tim Tebow is a darn good football player. What we need to do is make him a darn good quarterback."
Tebow gave no indication he considered that an insult. Instead, he praised Elway for working with the him and the team. He believes Elway is great for the Bronco organization.
And Tebow's throwing style, often questioned as wrong for the pros: Tebow says his throwing motion "is okay right now."
On having a serious girlfriend who would be Mrs. Tebow: He said he has to answer that question "very carefully." He said he definitely wants to find the girl who will like him for all the "right reasons."
Has she come along yet? Another friendly chuckle, Tebow-style. He doesn't think so .... yet.
On his "buddy:" On a recent visit to Dreams Come True, Tebow visited with several families. He spent all afternoon chatting and listening to parents give updates about their children's fight with cancer or other struggles.
One little girl, Gabbi, has been his "buddy" since August 2009. Gabbi has had three strokes, and isn't seeing or speaking now. She basically was showing no reaction to anything.
But then Gabbi's mom, Karen Hornsby, began singing to her. Gabbi lit up as if everything bad had just dissolved. She patted her leg and beamed.
Tebow patiently sat on the floor and listened. "Awesome," he said over and over. Others in the room were choked up.
No doubt Tebow, like any other top athlete, gets his share of criticism.
On Mary Stratton, a Buddy Check 12 survivor: Mary Stratton has fought breast cancer for 17 years now, and said her story should say something about Tebow.
Stratton was sitting at her desk at Greene-Hazel insurance one day when the elevator door opened. "I was shocked," she said. She had to look at least twice before she convinced herself it was really Tim Tebow.
She said he spent almost an hour and half there, encouraging her and sharing verses. The media was not notified, she said; no TV cameras were even there.
Stratton has his picture on her desk. She never could climb the stairs at Florida Field to see him play.
On why Tebow thinks he's been given the Superman body and the Heisman talent: "Sometimes I think, 'Why me?' -- What have I done for them to look up to me?" Tebow said he is just blessed to be in position to be a role model and spend time with people who could use a lift.
First Coast News