Tim Tebow may return to the political spotlight next week as the Republican Party prepares to nominate Donald Trump at its national convention in Cleveland.
A Trump adviser earlier Thursday told CNN the former Heisman Trophy winner scored a high-profile speaking gig at the Republican National Convention, joining a roster of speakers that’s a colorful mix of political leaders, entertainers, personalities and Trump family members. But in the evening, Tebow posted a Facebook video saying it was only a “rumor” — though he did not unequivocally say that the rumor was false.
“I wake up this morning to find out that I’m speaking at the Republican National Convention,” Tebow said. “It’s amazing how fast rumors fly and that’s exactly what it is — a rumor.”
Tebow, who won the Heisman in 2007 when he was a quarterback at the University of Florida and went on to play in the NFL for the Broncos, New York Jets, New England Patriots and Philadelphia Eagles, has been the focus of political speculation before.
Tebow was asked on Fox News back in March whether he’d consider getting into politics. Tebow replied that he didn’t know, but added, “If there’s a chance you can make a difference some day in something, then that would be intriguing.”
Then, in April, a conservative website called on the quarterback to run for a newly vacant congressional seat in Florida, describing the favorite son as “the perfect fit” for the spot.
In an editorial titled “Tim Tebow for Congress,” the editors of Red Alert Politics endorsed Tebow for Florida’s 4th district. Republican Rep. Ander Crenshaw is retiring from the district, which encompasses the Jacksonville area where Tebow grew up.
Red Alerts’ editors wrote, “If Tebow wants to continue making a difference outside football, Congress is the next step.” And they urged that “Republicans and the (National Republican Congressional Committee) should actively recruit him and welcome him into the party,” pointing to his character and “millennial appeal.”
The idea did not appear to catch on and Tebow did not comment on whether he’d run (the deadline for filing to run passed last month).
Tebow found himself in the abortion political debate after appearing in a 2010 Super Bowl ad sponsored by Focus on the Family, a faith-based organization that opposes abortion rights. Tebow praised his mother Pam for defying a doctor’s recommendation that she undergo an abortion after falling ill while pregnant with him.
Tebow was unapologetic upon facing criticism for appearing in the ad.
“I do stand up for what I believe. And at least you can respect that,” he said at the time.
Tebow has demonstrated his interest in public health issues and international affairs through his work with children’s hospitals in the U.S. as well as the Philippines, where he was born.
“He has arguably done more to help children than any current congressperson. Not only has he been a hero and a model of character for millions, he has also used the money he made through football to start the Tim Tebow Foundation, and his foundation is making a real impact, especially in Florida,” Red Alerts’ editors wrote.
Tebow’s popularity with evangelicals, who overwhelmingly vote Republican, began to grow when the athlete became vocal about his Christian faith while in college.
Known for his faith, Tebow’s popularity spread when photographs of people “tebowing” — getting down on one knee to pray, which the athlete did regularly during games — became a social media meme.