In some way, shape, or form it’s always Tebow Time.
I shivered in the hallway of Gillette Stadium despite wearing three layers with the accompanying hat and gloves. Fresh from the press box, my body was still adapting to the biting chill that only a New England winter has to offer.
I waited for the Broncos to open the locker room door to the media. Standing next to me, looking warm and excited despite the red nose was 20-year-old Zack McCleod from Cambridge, MA. McCleod and his family were Tim Tebow’s guests for the game.
As is well documented, Tebow hosts a family who has been hit hard by illness/bad fortune through his foundation’s Wish 15 program. Tebow flies people out for Broncos games, rents them a car and hotel room, and gets them tickets to the game. He spends time with the chosen child before and after the game, win or lose, just to make his/her day a little brighter.
McCleod, along with his parents, brothers, and sister waited excitedly as Tebow was receiving his final post game speech of the season from Coach Fox.
While the Broncos were cold, down, and defeated, McCleod was nothing but smiles. You see, McCleod suffered a traumatic brain injury three years ago during a high school football scrimmage. He intercepted a pass and took a hard hit, which altered his life and his family’s life forever. For McCleod, death was a possibility, and an altered life was the reality.
Like Tebow, McCleod’s faith keeps him going. Zach’s parents, Pat and Tammy McCleod, work as chaplains at Harvard University. It was a friend who called to throw the McCleod name into Wish 15‘s growing pile.
“Overall, it still wasn’t a bad day,” Tebow said after the 45-10 loss to thePatriots. “It was a good day because before the game I got to spend time with Zack McCleod and make him smile and overall when you get to do that, it’s still a positive day and it’s still a good day.”
It was a great day for the McCleod family because Tebow made them a priority in his day. In fact, Tebow puts others in front of himself most days. Standing in the frigid New England air with nothing more than a pink buttoned down shirt on, Tebow was all smiles – not shivers – talking to McCleod. Tebow was just minutes from boarding the team bus to catch the plane that would get them into Denver at 4:00 a.m., but it was Zack McCleod that was on Tebow’s mind.
It’s not a typical life for a 24-year-old professional athlete, but nothing about Tebow’s life has been normal. He was thrusted into the spotlight immediately upon entering the NFL. The sport’s giant pigskin spotlight was on him even when he was on the bench backing up Kyle Orton.
“There are pros and cons with everything,” Tebow acknowledged. “Sometimes you definitely don’t want it all because you’d love to just go to dinner and hang out with friends, and be a normal 24-year-old, and just go enjoy some time with friends. That makes it sometimes hard. But I wouldn’t change it for the world. I have the opportunity to be able to hang out with Zack before the game, I have the opportunity to go build a hospital in the Philippines, to go do a lot more important things than football. I’m very thankful for that platform, so I wouldn’t change it for anything.”
It was Mother Teresa who said, “We cannot do great things on this Earth, only small things with great love.”
Tebow is challenging that statement. He’s doing great things on this Earth with a great amount of love.
You can ask the McCleod family that. They drove back to Boston last night looking beyond their misfortune. Some people cause happiness wherever they go.
Rather than a superhero’s cape, Tebow is wearing shoulder pads instead.