In my quest to interview Tim Tebow, I became the ‘news’

Tebowing is 'pretty cool.' Photos by Elton Lugay

By Elton Lugay

Controversial quarterback Tim Tebow was officially introduced to the media March 26 at the New York Jets training facility in Florham Park, New Jersey.

A horde of media attended the presser that nearly eclipsed Trayvon Martin and Dominique Strauss-Kahn’s alleged involvement with French hookers. The circus-like attraction is astonishing considering that Tebow is only a reserve quarterback, a stand-in to Mark Sanchez. I guess Tebow will always attract national attention for promoting his religion even as his act of kneeling in prayer (or “Tebowing”) has been wildly imitated and ridiculed.

But in my quest to follow Tebow around the training complex with cameraman Rolan Gutierrez, something happened. I ended up being interviewed by the NFL. A reporter noticed Rolan and I anxiously awaiting our turn to do a one-on-one with Tebow.

Four men stood in front of me asking me questions, some curious others condescending. Questions like, “What are you doing here?” or “Do Filipinos know football?”

I replied that Tebow was actually born in the Philippines to missionary parents and that I represent the Philippine and Filipino American media. The follow-up question was intimidating, “So you’re claiming him, that he’s yours?”

Being born in the Philippines, Tebow is a Filipino by birth. “I just want to take some of that pride,” I shot back.

He asked what questions I might have for the traded Bronco. I said I was curious about his time in the Philippines and what he remembers of it. If he was in touch with old friends in school and teachers, and if spoke some Tagalog and internalized some Filipino values. I made clear my questions were not related to football at all.

Journalists await their turn to speak to Tebow.

I know. The NFL guys were probably cackling quietly in their heads, thinking what a chump I was, but that’s OK. There was nothing else to do. In the end, the great equalizer was that both the NFL and The FilAm didn’t get our face time with Tebow.

Dressed in a gray suit and a lime green tie, Tebow looked relaxed and dignified. He was almost apologetic for the media frenzy he has caused.

He patiently answered all questions about his likely rivalry with Mark Sanchez, the possibility of being a distraction to the Jets team, and his Christian faith.

“I really don’t feel like I’m too much of a distraction,” he told the reporters during the press conference.

He spoke proudly of Sanchez saying that his fellow quarterback “always handled himself with so much class and integrity, and hopefully we’ll be able to thrive together.”

Tebow said he and Sanchez have been friends for years. “We text back and forth and we’re gonna have a great working relationship and a lot of fun together. It’s exciting that he had faith and belief in me as a football player and as a person to bring me and make me a Jet…He also said he was excited about working with me.”

As a football player, Tebow vowed to be a “great teammate, a good asset…and be the best Jet that I can possibly be.”

He talked about the hospital and the 650 orphans he said his foundation supports in the Philippines.

“I’m so proud that the 650 orphans that we support or the hospital in the Philippines that we’re building because ultimately I know that that’s more important than anything I do on the football field,” he said. “It’s the ability to brighten the kids’ day, the ability to make someone smile. Or the ability because we’re put on a pedestal as a football player, which makes us no more special than anybody else. More than that I believe is the responsibility to be a good role model, to set a good example and to make a difference in the kids’ lives especially the kids that are looking up to you because you play football.”

He defended his religion saying he is “never ashamed” of showing his adoration of Jesus Christ.

“’Cause that’s the most important thing to me,” he said.

He thinks ‘Tebowing’ is a little bit hype. But if it makes people examine their faith, “I think that’s pretty cool.”

He said he’s been Tebowing since he was in high school, and why “all of a sudden it became a big deal last year” is something that is perplexing to him.

“The greatest way to share the gospel is by acting it,” he said. “(Faith) is about being who I am and who I’ve always been.”


  1. I find Elton’s story of Tim Tebow very touching. It is not so much about football. It was about Tebow’s character and his roots, that he is a good man born in the Philippines to missionary parents and brings his love for GOD and Jesus to the football field. Therefore, the comment made about what does a Filipino know about football was an ignorant question.

  2. M. Matthews wrote:

    Elton, thank you for covering the news about Tebow coming to the Jets.

  3. Elton wrote:

    Tita Shirley thank you so much, I’m so moved by your comment.

  4. May T. Durano wrote:

    Elton, you did a great job. I am happy that Tebow has a soft heart for our Filipino kids who are less fortunate. I am touched because I am also concerned about our schoolchildren in the Philippes. Keep up the good work. I’m hoping you can make it next time to our event.

  5. I like your style of ‘being interviewed’ and interviewing greats like Tebow.
    Now I am your instant ‘fan’, Elton Lugay!
    Grace Baldisseri

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