Tim Tebow: “I honestly thought I was going to Alabama, then this guy named Urban Meyer got the job at Florida.”

April 22, 2011 – 10:50 am by Michael Bean

He needs no introduction. He’s Football Jesus, Tim Tebow. I enjoyed listening to this very lengthy interview with Tebow in-studio on 790 The Zone in Atlanta. The range of topics covered was dizzying, but I’ve transcribed a big portion of it below. After you hear the interview you’ll either enjoy it and then think a bit differently about the guy, or you’ll have even more fodder to make some funny jokes about the Denver Broncos signal caller.

Tebow joined 790 The Zone in Atlanta to talk about how he manages all the different obligations and expectations competing for his attention, how proud his parents are of him for his high character, if he understands why some people can’t stand all the Tim Tebow mania at times, how he’s a little bit weirded out by having a statue of him at The Swamp, how close he came to attending Alabama, how Urban Meyer’s presence was the deciding factor for him, the feeling of losing to Georgia and committing to excellence after the tough loss, what he’s been working on with his game this offseason, his thoughts on college players getting paid, his relationship with John Elway, the Lockout, and how much he feels the Lockout may or may not be affecting his ability to develop his game.

On how he manages to handle all the different things vying for his attention:

“Well I think you have to just handle each situation as best as possible and treat everyone like you want to be treated. If you do that, then I think people are going to like you and respect you. And you are going to be a lot better off for it.”

On having to say no to people at times:

“Well you can’t worry about that. You have to do what’s best for you and you have to treat people the right way. And if you have to go, if you have to be busy, you can’t take every picture and sign for everybody, although I’d like to and I try to because I am a people pleaser, I really am. But sometimes, and my family and support staff really helps me with that, is you’ve got to go, you can’t stay there for three hours after this, we’ve got to get you to the next thing and go. So they really help me, and they’re more the bad guy for me than I ever have to be. And that makes it a lot easier for me…”

On how proud his parents must be of him and the type of young man he is:

“Well I think they’re very proud of some of those things. I think one example of that is my senior year going to the Orlando Awards, I had just heard that I wasn’t going to win any of them; and I kind of knew that going in because we had just lost to Alabama. So my mom, she was sitting right beside me and I had taken a young lady with me who had some medical things going wrong with her, and she was working through it and just an awesome girl. I had taken her and walked down the red carpet with me and spent all night with me. So I leaned over the my mom and said ‘at this point I’m not going to win any awards.’ And she said ‘oh but Tim you did, you won more award that you can even imagine. You made us more proud than if you won the Heisman or anything else.’ So those moments are ones that are really special to me and that I really take to heart.”

If he understands why some people are tired of the Tim Tebow mania all the time:

“I definitely understand that, and people are entitled to their own opinion. I just try to when I meet someone, or when I come in contact with someone, to always leave a better impression than before I got there. Honestly, that’s something that drives me because I want to be genuine, I want to be real, I want to tell people listen, I’m trying to do it the right way, I’m trying to go out there and reach my goals but you know what, I stumble, I make mistakes, I’m not perfect. And when they realize that you’re real but you’re trying hard to get better every day, you’re trying to accomplish your dreams, and you’re trying to uplift everyone around you, hopefully they can respect you for that.”

If he likes the fact that there’s been a statute of him at The Swamp:

“It’s a little weird to be honest with you. It’s very humbling, it’s a great honor, but to be honest, I got to tell you I probably won’t look at it too much because it’s a little weird. But it is an extremely huge honor, and it’s very humbling to think that you’re etched in stone or granite or marble or whatever it is.”

On how close he came to attending Alabama:

“It was very close. I mean, down to the very last second I had no idea where I was going to go and it was between two great schools. My whole high school career, I thought I was going to Alabama because Urban wasn’t at Florida at that time, and they had Coach Shula — I loved him, I respected him as family, I loved the passion Alabama fans had for the game. That was something, you watch me play, I love it, I’m passionate about it, and seeing those fans, I loved it, I was in to it. And they had great players and I had become friends with a lot of their players, so most of my high school career I honestly thought I was going to Alabama. Then this guy named Urban Meyer got the job at Florida, and he worked harder than any coach at single handedly trying to recruit for a year and a half. And at the end I bought into it, I believed him. You could see something about this guy in his eyes – that fire, that passion – that he’s something special, that he’s going to do something special. And I believed I could lead his team to do something extremely special. And I believed that. At the end of the day, that’s why I went to Florida. It wasn’t because it was close to home, it wasn’t because of the spread offense, it was because I believed in the man Urban Meyer.”

On what he’s been working on with his game this offseason:

“Well I believe this offseason has been great. Just working extremely hard, on the grind pretty much all offseason, I haven’t taken a break. I’ve been working a lot on my drops from under center, I haven’t done any shotgun stuff all offseason. Everything’s just been under center — straight drops, play-action fakes, straight drops, fives, sevens — just working on all the throws. Accuracy and precision with my passes has been the number one thing that I’ve worked on all offseason and I believe that I’ve improved that a lot. I’m excited, I’m excited when we’re allowed to go out there and start playing football to go out there and start competing.”

How shocked was he when Urban Meyer resigned:

“It wasn’t that it was a complete shock to me, because the year before when he was going through a lot of health issues and different stress issues, and he decided to resign and then he came back, he only came back because he loved his players so much and he wanted to coach us one more time, and he wanted to be around. So he came back because of the love of that, and he wanted to keep going because he felt like he owed it to the players. But then after this year, I believe he felt he owed it more to his family — to be a dad, to go to his son’s baseball games, to coach his son, to go to Nicky and Gigi’s volleyball games. And I know he’s spending a lot of time in Atlanta because Nicky is balling out for Georgia Tech volleyball. So he wanted to go to her games, he wanted to go to Gigi’s games, he wanted to spend time with Nate and be a dad. And we would talk all the time, I would go up to his office and we would hang out every day and those were the things that I respect the most about him — it’s not the coaching things, it’s about how much he wanted to be a father figure to his players, to his kids, and also to be a husband and be with his family. That was the most important thing to him. And you know, coaching, he might get back into that at another time, but right now, it was most important to be with his family. And if people want to criticize him and say you quit, no, you know what he did, he took Utah and he made them as good as they could be, he took Florida and won two national titles, and then he said you know what, I’m going to go be a dad, and if you don’t like that oh well. And I love it. And to all the people that say he’s a quitter, well, you don’t know what you’re talking about. Good for him.”

Whether he thinks college players should be paid:

“No I don’t believe college players should be paid, but I believe there should be some…say when you get your check and you go off campus, and you get $800 for your apartment and what not, I believe you should be given a little more. Because I remember sometimes at Florida I would grab extra shakes from the locker room and bring them and just have cereal for dinner, because sometimes you wouldn’t have money for dinner. When you’re having I mean, a lot of different people make millions and millions off you, I think you should at least be allowed to have the means and the resources to have a good dinner here, to go do this, to have money to go fill up on gas, to do the simple things. So I don’t think it should turn into college players should start getting paid a lot, but especially with where a lot of players come from, a lot of them need that extra hand so they’re not going to go try to get it in other places and get in trouble. But so they can go get dinner, go do this after a hard practice.”

On getting to have a close relationship with John Elway:

“It’s been a great relationship for me. I got to spend a lot of time with him since I got drafted before he was officially a part of the club. He’s just been great. Before my first start against Oakland, he had me over for dinner that Tuesday night and we just talked and hung out and he just gave me advice. He does great things like that. He just loves being involved and talking and giving advice, and sometimes it’s just a little thing here, or a little thing here, just simple things and you’re like ‘ah, I’m going to listen, it’s John Elway.’ It’s amazing, especially as a young guy getting to learn from a guy like that.”

How much he thinks the lockout might be hurting him as he tries to develop into a starting quarterback in the NFL:

“Well I look at it two ways. I would love to be there going through OTAs with the coaches, with everyone; but also I look at in positive ways. I know there’s a lot of great players, but I also know there’s a lot of players out there that are loving this right now and they’re not going to work everyday extremely hungry, and they’re resting on their laurels a little bit and saying ‘hey, this is a vacation for me.’ I love that because everyday I’m looking to get better. So I believe that’s an opportunity for me to get an edge on a lot of players and I’m going to take that. Whether that’s true or not, that’s in my head and that’s all that matters.”

Listen here to Tebow with Mayhem in the AM on 790 The Zone in Atlanta

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