TAMPA, Fla. — His stakes were low, his field was small and some of his targets were tiny, but there Tim Tebow stood, throwing a football before a crowd with smart phones at the ready.
The former Heisman Trophy winner spent the better part of two hours Saturday afternoon at D1 Sports Training and Therapy center playing in what amounted to a sandlot football game.
About 100 fans – participants ranging from age 7 to adults – paid $150 ($50 for club members) to train with the former Florida quarterback and Denver Broncos and New York Jets fascination. Stretching techniques were taught, as were various common on-field drills. The day’s highlight, though, was playing time with Tebow on a synthetic turf.
The quarterback showed a variety of emotions between snaps: High-fiving teammates; clenching his fists and yelling, “Ohhh!” after dropped passes; raising his palms toward the ceiling after touchdown catches.
“Keep working hard,” Tebow told a group of participants ages 12-14, each kneeling in a huddle. “Never settle for being average.”
Tebow’s appearance was part of a tour within a state familiar to him. He plans to hold a similar event Sunday at Orlando’s D1 complex, to complete visits at the pair of Florida facilities he co-owns. (The Tampa location also is owned by WWE star Chris Jericho, former Tampa Bay Buccaneers linebacker Derrick Brooks and former Atlanta Braves infielder Chipper Jones. Jones and Tebow own the Orlando venue.)
Tebow wasn’t made available for an interview Saturday, but questions about his NFL future remain. He’s under contract with the Jets, but his time with the team may be limited after a small contribution last season. He played 12 games as a reserve behind maligned starter Mark Sanchez, completing 6 of 8 passes for 39 yards. He also ran for 102 yards on 32 carries.