Tebow Time hit Lincoln Financial Field Sunday afternoon, but from the moment he entered the Eagles' preseason opener to the final time he touched the ball, quarterback Tim Tebow was able to forget about his status as a cultural phenomenon and simply play football. He even actively rejected the raucous reception to his entrance, signaling the crowd to quiet down while he tried to communicate with his teammates.
"I was thankful (for the cheers) but I was also like, 'They won't be able to hear me. We'll have to go silent,'" Tebow joked after the Eagles' 36-10 victory over the Indianapolis Colts. "I was trying to focus on communication with the offensive line. For a lot of us, it's really the first time we're playing live snaps together too. We had to communicate. I appreciated it though."
After entering the game in the third quarter, Tebow completed 6-of-12 passes for 69 yards and a 67.7 quarterback rating and was sacked three times. He also ran the ball four times for 15 yards, including a 7-yard touchdown run on the final play of the day for the Eagles offense.
"It was fun seeing that end zone and fighting to get in," Tebow said. "It's something I've been blessed to have a few opportunities at in my life … We were getting looks where I couldn't really pull it for a while, and that one was kind of close and I wanted to take it. It was fun."
Neither Tebow nor the nominal third-team offense was perfect Sunday, and head coach Chip Kelly noted that Tebow was working with relatively inexperienced offensive linemen and wide receiver. But considering that Sunday marked Tebow's first live action since the 2013 preseason and the effort put forth to rework his mechanics over the last two years, the quarterback was deservedly excited to pass the test.
"This was the first time under live bullets, so I felt there were some throws I made that were decent and I just want to continue to improve. I felt good about it though," said Tebow. "It's a blessing to put in work for something and to be able to see that work, to be able to get to a point where you're back, you're playing ball, you're having fun. It's a blessing and something I'm very thankful for."
In the locker room after the game, where he was immediately engulfed by the throng of reporters and cameras, Tebow was again very much Tim Tebow. But for the cultural icon, looking back on an afternoon in which he was able to forget about that status and simply play his favorite game, fun became the operative word.
"Sometimes you forget how much you enjoy it and you're just going through the motions," Tebow said. "I think for me, being out for a little while and coming back, it's not about going through the motions. It's about enjoying the moment, having fun. Yeah, you're focused, working hard, but it's also a blessing to be able to play this game. I love it. It's a passion of mine, so I'm going to have fun every opportunity I get to."