Jet Tim Tebow leads 'Easter on the hill' service in Texas
On Easter Sunday, they flocked to Tim Tebow.
The Jets' star backup quarterback drew some 15,000 followers to a megachurch in Texas Sunday for an "Easter on the Hill" service, where he talked faith and football in front of an adoring crowd.
"Win or lose, it is most important that I honor my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ," Tebow said as he talked with Joe Champion, pastor of the Celebration Church in Georgetown, Texas, about 15 miles north of Austin.
"It's OK to be outspoken about your faith," added Tebow, 24, who's been known since his college days for his vocal Christian evangelism on and off the field.
Rather than delivering a traditional sermon, Tebow chatted with Champion onstage for about 20 minutes, discussing the importance of athletes being role models and his own struggle with keeping the faith.
Asked what needs to change in America, Tebow said the country needs to focus more on religion."First and foremost is what this country was based on: one nation under God," he said.
He also took a swing at athletes who insist they're not role models: "Yes, you are. You're just not a good one."
Shortly before the service began, Tebow tweeted, "He is risen!" followed by John 3:16, the Bible verse he wore on his eye black during college.
Even New York's Timothy Cardinal Dolan couldn't resist the Eastertime Tebowmania, saying he was jealous of the enormous crowd that came out to see Tebow, whom the Denver Broncos traded to the Jets last month.
"We are delighted you are here," Dolan told the 3,000 or so parishioners at St. Patrick's Cathedral yesterday, according to published reports. "You'd think I'd be so happy that we got over 3,000 people [here] ... but I'm jealous because one Timothy Tebow has 25,000 in Texas."
Champion said the quarterback's appearance happened almost by accident. Tebow, while still a Denver Bronco, called him several weeks back, suggesting that he was interested in speaking to his congregation.
"I said, 'What about Easter?'" Champion recalled. "His people replied that Easter might work, and it snowballed from there. It really went viral."
According to the Associated Press, Champion added during the service: "In Christianity, it's the Pope and Tebow right now. We didn't have enough room to handle the Pope."