DENVER (CBS Denver) — As Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow gears up for the biggest game of his professional life against the New England Patriots Saturday, CBS Denver takes a look back at how Tebow ended up to where he is now.
Dec. 16, 2005: At the conclusion of his senior season in which he lead his high school team to a state championship, Tebow — a Parade Magazine high school All-American and two-time Florida player of the year — plays in the nationally-televised U.S. Army All-American Bowl. He narrowed his choices to Florida and Alabama. During the All-American Bowl, Tebow announces that he has committed to the University of Florida, where the spread option offense is suited for his talents.
Sept, 2, 2006: On his first play as a Florida Gator, Tebow runs in a 1-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter against Southern Miss. Following his standout performance in Florida’s Spring Game, Gator fans are clamoring for the freshman. “He’s going to be a great player here,” then-Florida coach Urban Meyer said. “He’s going to will himself into the end zone many times here.” Tebow says his first game at the Swamp definitely surpassed his expectations.
Jan. 8, 2007: In the BCS National Championship Game against No. 1 Ohio State, Tebow scores two touchdowns – one passing, one rushing – in helping Florida to its second national title in school history.
Dec. 8, 2007: Having completed his first season as Florida’s starting quarterback, Tebow becomes the first sophomore to win the Heisman Trophy. Despite a disappointing 9-4 season, Tebow becomes the first player in FBS history to throw and run for at least 20 touchdowns in each category in the same season. He finished with 32 passing touchdowns and 23 rushing scores.
Sept. 27, 2008: Following the No. 4 Gators being upset by Ole Miss at home, Tebow would give a speech that would later be immortalized in Florida lore. “I promise you one thing, a lot of good will come out of this,” he said. “You will never see any player in the entire country play as hard as I will play the rest of the season. You will never see someone push the rest of the team as hard as I will push everybody the rest of the season. You will never see a team play harder than we will the rest of the season. God bless.”
Jan. 8, 2009: Tebow makes good on his promise and leads Florida to a second BCS championship in three years with a 24-14 win over Oklahoma. Tebow throws for two touchdowns and two interceptions in the win. A couple days later, he would announce that he would be returning to Florida for his senior season.
July 23, 2009: During an SEC Media Day session, Tebow responds to a question of whether he is a virgin by saying he is and that he is saving himself for marriage.
Jan. 1, 2010: Tebow accounted for 533 yards of total offense and four total touchdowns in a 51-24 win against Cincinnati in the Sugar Bowl. It would be his final game as a Gator.
Feb. 7, 2010: An ad for Focus On The Family featuring Tebow and his mother airs during Super Bowl XLIV. The ad is criticized for being controversial and divisive due to Tebow and his mother supporting a pro-life stance. “He almost didn’t make it into this world,” Tebow’s mother said in the ad. “I can remember so many times when I almost lost him. It was so hard.”
April 22, 2010: After much talk of where Tebow would be selected in the NFL Draft and whether he has a future in the NFL, period, the Denver Broncos select the Heisman-winning quarterback with the 25th overall pick in the first round. “My greatest joy in Denver is going to be to repay Coach [Josh] McDaniels for believing in me,” he said at the time. Critics believe Tebow will be McDaniels’ legacy.
Dec. 26, 2010: Toward the end of the 2010 season, Tebow was named the starter for the team’s final three games. He’d record his first win in his second start, a 24-23 win against the Houston Texans. Tebow would throw for 308 yards and one touchdown, and ran in another score. By the end of the season, Tebow would become the first quarterback in league history to rush for a touchdown in the first three starts of his career.
Aug. 3, 2011: ESPN NFL analyst Merril Hoge takes Denver to task for the organization possibly going with Tebow as the starter on opening day of the 2011 season. “It’s embarrassing to think the Broncos could win with Tebow!!” he tweeted. “That throwing motion he changed? You can’t change who you are!” He tweeted later: “College credentials do not transfer to NFL, rah-rah speeches do not work! You must possess a skill set to play! Tebow struggles with accuracy!” Tebow would respond via Twitter: “Hey Merril……’ppreciate that.”
Oct. 23, 2011: Serving as the backup for the first five games of the season, first-year Broncos coach John Fox announces that Tebow would be the team’s starter after a 1-4 start. In his second start, Tebow would rally Denver from 15 points down with three minutes to go to win in overtime against the Miami Dolphins. With the win, it was the first time in league history that a team has won a game after being down by at least 15 points with three minutes left to play. “I kept believing and more importantly, I kept believing in the people around me that eventually we were going to be able to start getting things going, and eventually we did,” he said.
Oct. 24, 2011: After the win against Miami, a group of Broncos fans in New York stepped outside of a bar and took a picture of the six of them kneeling in prayer, a practice that Tebow would do before and after every game. The photo would be replicated worldwide, the act of “Tebowing.” A couple months later, a group of high school athletes would be suspended for “Tebowing” in a hallway at school.
Dec. 7, 2011: ESPN dedicates an entire hour-long Sportscenter to the Tebow phenomenon.
Dec. 11, 2011: As Tebowmania is in full force, the Broncos are becoming a playoff contender. In the days leading up to the game against Chicago, Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher called Tebow “a good running back.” With the team down 10-0 to Chicago with a little more than two minutes left to play, Tebow would lead Denver to a 13-10 overtime victory, the team’s seventh consecutive game with Tebow under center. It was the sixth time in Tebow’s 11 career starts that he engineered a win in the fourth quarter after Denver was trailing.
Jan. 8, 2012: Despite losing the last three games of the season, the Broncos still clinch the AFC West and a Wild-Card Weekend matchup with the reigning AFC Champion Pittsburgh Steelers. Heeding the advice of Denver’s executive vice president and Hall of Famer John Elway, Tebow has a career day through the air, throwing for a career-high 316 yards and two touchdowns, averaging 31.6 yards a completion. On the first play of overtime, Tebow connects with Demaryius Thomas for a game-winning 80-yard touchdown to clinch the upset and set up a Divisional Round matchup with the New England Patriots. Days later, the Patriots would announce the hiring of Josh McDaniels, the former Denver coach who selected Tebow in the draft, as their new offensive coordinator. The Patriots then knock the Broncos out of the playoffs with a 45-10 win at Gilette Stadium.