Tim Tebow has not given up on what he still calls his “dream” job: being a quarterback in the NFL. But in case that part of his life is over, as many in the league suspect, he is set to begin a new career analyzing college football on TV.
ESPN announced Monday — one year to the day since Tebow’s last game in uniform as a Jets reserve — that he will begin work as an analyst, initially on ESPN but primarily on the SEC Network, which launches in August.
Still, Tebow was emphatic that part of the understanding is he is free to leave should an NFL team call on him.
“They’ve been so generous to let me continue to pursue my dream of being an NFL quarterback, and I will continue to push myself to become better every single day, not only as a quarterback but also as an analyst,” he said Tuesday on a conference call with reporters.
Justin Connolly, ESPN’s senior VP of programming for college networks, said allowing Tebow to leave for the NFL if he has the chance is “a key piece of this relationship and we’re going to honor that and respect it.”
Tebow has not played in a regular-season NFL game since Dec. 17, 2012, when the Jets visited the Titans. He played in three preseason games for the Patriots in 2013, the last against the Giants, then was released Aug. 31.
No team signed him after that, including his hometown Jaguars.
Tebow, 26, said he is working out five days a week in hopes of getting back to the NFL.
“I’ve been training very hard over the last few months,” he said. “I feel like I’m the best I have ever been as a quarterback right now. I hope I get the opportunity to show that.”
After appearing on ESPN in the lead-up to Monday’s BCS National Championship Game, Tebow will have time to try to find an NFL home before starting his primary television job on “SEC Nation,” a pregame show that will originate from an SEC campus each week, starting Aug. 28.
“I don’t think I’ll get too out of shape just by (working) one game,” he said of Monday’s assignment. “I’ll keep in pretty decent shape. I’ll find time.”
Tebow said regardless of what happens with his football future, he has no regrets, “because every time I stepped on the field in a practice or game, I gave everything I had.”
He hopes to bring a similar focus to TV work, where his star power and SEC bona fides are beyond question, but his ever-positive public persona could be put to the test.
“I’d love to continue to be someone that is positive, but also be someone that is objective,” he said. “I’ve never had a hard time saying what I believe or standing up for something and hopefully I can continue to be that same person as an analyst.”