By Barry Janoff
January 1, 2014: Mr. Director, Tim Tebow is ready for his close-up.
But will marketers, TV viewers and sports fans be ready for some up-close time with Tebow?
Tebow, who won the Heisman Trophy and two national championships while with the University of Florida, then spent three-plus years in the NFL, will be on the other side of the camera beginning Jan. 6, when makes his first appearance as an ESPN analyst during pre-game coverage of the 2014 Vizio BCS National Championship.
"I will continue to push myself to become better every single day, not only as a quarterback, but also as an analyst," Tebow said during a media conference call on Tuesday (Dec. 31). "If I get the opportunity to continue to play quarterback in the NFL, I would love to do so. "But I also want to be the best analyst I can be for many years to come, and I’m thankful for that partnership."
The job is the launching point of a multi-year deal Tebow signed with ESPN to work for the SEC Network, scheduled to begin in August 2014. The Southeastern Conference and ESPN have a 20-year agreement, which runs through 2034, to create and operate the multi-platform SEC Network.
Tebow has been a marketing magnet — albeit somewhat polarizing due to his very strong and very public religious convictions— at one point earning about $10 million in annual endorsements, according to industry analysts.
His current marketing partners include EA Sports, TiVo (which has included a series of TV commercials; photo), Soul Electronics, PDQ casual restaurant chain, D1 sports training and Full Sail University., according to his official Web site. He also supports the Tim Tebow Foundation.
Whether he continues to attract marketers remains to be seen, now based largely on Tebow's role as a TV analyst rather than an NFL quarterback.
"I would love to continue to be someone who’s positive but also be someone that is objective," Tebow said during his ESPN media conference call. "I’ve never had a hard time saying what I believed or standing up for something, and hopefully I can continue to be that same person as an analyst and sharing what I believe about players, about teams, about games."
Tebow said he is putting himself into the job 100%, but is not giving up on the possibility of returning to the NFL as a quarterback.
"I’m still passionate about the game," he said. "I think I’ll always be passionate about the game and passionate about sharing it with fans and viewers that want to understand it deeper and understand the meaning of why is this offense doing this and why is the defense doing this and be able to share those insights that you’ve been blessed to have because you were a player and you were in this, you understand the traditions, the rivalries, everything that’s going on.
"I’d love the opportunity to share that, and also it’s history for me, so it’s a lot of fun."
"Hopefully I can continue to be that same person as an analyst and sharing what I believe about players, about teams, about games."
ESPN said that once the SEC Network hits the air, Tebow's primary role would be as an analyst for SEC Nation, the network’s traveling pre-game, which will broadcast from a different SEC campus each week. In the months leading up to the launch and thereafter, Tebow will "contribute to a variety of ESPN platforms, including SportsCenter, ESPN Radio, and the network’s Heisman Trophy coverage, offering in-depth perspective as a legendary Southeastern Conference player."
Tebow certainly knows his football. After winning two national titles with Florida (2007, 2009), he was drafted No. 25 overall by the Denver Broncos in 2010. Tebow played for theBroncos in 2010-11 and the New York Jets in 2012, then was a member of the New England Patriots' preseason squad in 2013, but was cut by the team before the season began.
Now, a new career begins for him.
"I felt like right now was a great opportunity to start," said Tebow. "I will look at it from an objective prism and try to share an insight with the viewers just like I always have any time I’ve had the opportunity to share.
“I am so excited that ESPN has given me this incredible opportunity. When I was six years old I fell in love with the game of football, and while I continue to pursue my dream of playing quarterback in the NFL, this is an amazing opportunity to be part of the unparalleled passion of college football and the SEC.”
The new network and its accompanying digital platform will air SEC content 24/7, including more than 1,000 events in its first year. Plans are to televise some 45 SEC football games, more than 100 men’s basketball games, 60 women’s basketball games, 75 baseball games and events from across the SEC’s 21 sports annually. Programming will also include studio shows, original content such as SEC Storied, spring football games, signing day and pro days coverage.
Hundreds of additional live events from various sports will be offered exclusively on the digital platform, according to ESPN.
SportsCenter Photo: ESPN
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