(RNS) -- Tim Tebow is a 23-year-old second-year, second-string quarterback on a so-so NFL team. So who's going to buy his memoirs?
What's to remember?
- The play-by-play of his life from conception (his missionary dad, Bob, prayed for a son and promised God to raise him to preach) to birth (a "miracle" tale told in a Super Bowl commercial).
- High school gridiron statistics that made college recruiters pant (he had 80 scholarship offers). An ESPN documentary called him "The Chosen One" when he was just 17.
- A Heisman trophy and college championships at the University of Florida, where Tebow is already immortalized in a bronze statue on campus.
- His selection in the first round of last year's NFL draft by the Denver Broncos, along with a GQ profile that praised his physique in prose that read like a romance novel.
Woven throughout Tebow's new memoir, Through My Eyes, is the bone-deep religious side of the evangelical young player who writes Bible verses beneath the play codes on his wristbands, just as he once inscribed them in his eye black for his college games.
The book, written with co-author Nathan Whitaker, starts each chapter with a Bible verse and is laced as much with "glory to God" as it is with pages of grit-and-grunt details of Tebow's trademark punishing workouts. He trains relentlessly, determined to confound everyone who has questioned whether he can make it as an NFL quarterback.
So Eyes is for anyone who ever felt a sense of defiant determination in the face of skeptics. And, it's aimed at anyone who finds Tebow's story just a bit insufferable.
It's the memoir of a no-drugs, no-drinks, no-arrests player whose idea of swearing is "Holy sweet cheese-and-crackers!" Even so, there are some smudges on Tebow's Jockey-endorsed T-shirt.
He admits to crying so often he could compete with weepy House Speaker John Boehner in a Kleenex Bowl. During his college years, a Facebook page called "I saw Tim Tebow Cry and Loved it" had 23,000 fans.
He laughs off the anti-Tebow legions.
"If those people got to know who I really am as a person, we'd get along. Holier than thou? That's not me. I'm a real person. I fail and then I try to keep improving and enjoying life," Tebow said in an interview with USA TODAY. "I'm a people pleaser. I would love everyone to love me but they're not, and I'm just not going to worry about it."
Tebow seems happy, excited, eager and upbeat as he talks about faith, football and a future he says he never worries about.
The NFL lockout that threatens the 2011 season? Beyond his control.
Questions of whether he'll start for the Broncos in 2011? Keep training.
Romance? Ha! No one special -- not yet anyway, he said, laughing.
Tebow's agenda: Live pure. Work hard. Leave the rest to God.
Tebow's father got the preacher he promised his Lord, and the son said football is "absolutely" his pulpit.
"As a player, especially as a quarterback, you are blessed with so many things you can do with that platform," Tebow said. "You can help a lot of kids."
In the off-season, he has raised funds for orphanages through his Tim Tebow Foundation, running a celebrity pro-am golf tournament and tithing from his $8.7 million Broncos contract to the foundation and other causes such as Wounded Warriors.
He supports his father's efforts in the Philippines, where Tim was born after his mother Pam's difficult pregnancy. She rejected doctor's advice to abort their fifth child and toughed it out, as she recounts in a Focus on the Family-sponsored commercial that broke through the NFL's ban on issue-oriented ads during the 2010 Super Bowl.
Groups objected in advance of the ad, expecting a diatribe from Tim and Pam. Instead, it was a sweet, short, funny spot in which Pam shakes off a Tebow tackle and viewers were invited to the Focus website -- where the heavy-duty tales are posted.
History doesn't count for much in the NFL, where Tebow knows he's just another young player expected to listen and follow, not lead.
There's still time for hanging out with his older brothers, Robby and Peter, who live and work with him, to play Madden football video games, and to croon ("very badly!") along with country music favorites such as Kenny Chesney.
Tebow wants his teammates to see that improving his play and getting to know them on and off the field is his top priority.
"I'm with veterans who have played 10 to 15 years," he said. "But as quarterback, you have to have everyone looking at you. You have to earn respect. Show up first. Be last to leave. After that they begin to like you and play for you. Ultimate goal is fellows who will lay it on the line for you."
Cathy Lynn Grossman and Sean Leahy write for USA Today.
c. 2011 USA TODAY. Used with permission.
Publication date: June 6, 2011