As the Denver Broncos prepare to shock the world - again - against the New England Patriots tonight in frosty Foxboro, I was reminded once again about what makes Tim Tebow so special, and why I am proud to have him be the face of my beloved Broncos.
Last week, after Tebow won his biggest game - so far - with one of the most exciting plays in postseason history, he was asked about the phenomenon he had become. His answer, in typical Tebow fashion, went far beyond football.
"I'm just very thankful for the platform that God has given me, and the opportunity to be a quarterback for the Denver Broncos-what a great organization. It is special to have the platform of playing football because I have the opportunity to affect people. I was very excited to have Bailey Knaub (Tim Tebow Foundation recipient) here at this game. Football is amazing. We love it and we're so passionate about it-you can see right there (in the dramatic finish), but the real win, at least that I would take today, is being able to comfort a girl who's gone through 73 surgeries before the game and get a chance to go hang out with her now. So that's the biggest win of the day. They are both exciting, but that's what I'm even more proud of."
80% of his answer focused on someone else - someone less fortunate than most of us - who Tebow was able to raise up, even for just one day. I can remember there was even some backlash on Twitter about Tim making those comments, saying he was looking for publicity. More on that later.
The story of Bailey Knaub is bittersweet, but getting to meet Tebow was surely the brightest moment for her and her family. Bailey suffers from Wegener's granulomatosis, a rare vascular disorder that has forced her to undergo 73 surgeries in 10 years, the most serious of which was the removal of her left lung in 2010.
Her cousin sent a letter to the Tim Tebow Foundation, one of 600 received each week, but it was Bailey that was chosen to be Tim's guest against the Steelers.
I received an email this week from Collin Knaub, Bailey's older brother and fan of MHR. He wanted to let me know the rest of the story - and in his words, wanted to "bring to light what a great person Tim is".
From here, I will let Collin tell the story, for I cannot begin to do it justice:
Several newspapers and Denver tv stations became interested in Bailey after Tim mentioned her during his post-game remarks. They all wanted interviews with her and she instantly became a Denver celebrity (60+ new facebook friend requests, too!). Later that week, CBS contacted Tim about doing a pre-game interview. Tim told the CBS producer he would do the interview if Bailey could be part of it.
Tim then invited the whole family to practice on Thursday (this time my wife and I could tag along). We got to watch the first part of practice and got a complete tour of the facility. The CBS crew filmed us during most of the tour. We even got to eat in the cafeteria with some of the IR players. Once they finished practice we went outside to see Coach Fox address the media. Tim finished up the team prayer and once he saw Bailey he headed straight over. After giving everyone in the family a hug he posed for a few pictures. Tim had a smile the whole time but it definitely got bigger when Bailey told him he'd made her the most popular kid in school. It was great to see that he truly cared and that something like that made him feel special.
The family had to leave the room during the interview (audio precautions) but Bailey said most of the questions were directed towards Tim about football and his foundation. I guess we will find out tomorrow night what was said. We were told the interview would last about 15 minutes and be on during the pre-game show (toward the end so it might bring us right up to kick-off) After the interview Tim chatted with us again and signed a few footballs I brought with me. He is unbelievable. I can't even explain how great he made Bailey and our family feel. Every time we thanked him for what he did he found some way to turn it around to thank Bailey for being an inspiration.
The interview, according to Knaub, is 10-15 minutes and will take place during the latter stages of tonight's pre-game show. This story truly warmed my heart, and I know that there are more stories put there - and more players like Tebow - that do these things without the need for publicity. I didn't post it looking for more publicity for Tim, but rather to show that even when the lights go off, Tim's desire to make a difference in people's lives is REAL, and at a time when the Tim Tebow Foundation is in the news for building a hospital in the Philippines, it is their work with girls like Bailey Knaub that are truly make a difference, one person at a time.
I don't know what is going to happen tonight. No matter what, the detractors will be out in full force, looking for a chink in the armor. Meanwhile, Tim Tebow will continue making a difference in people's lives.
Thanks to Collin Knaub for the story, and to Tim Tebow, for making Broncos Country proud, one Bailey at a time.