Tim Tebow


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Shaken Summary

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In 2016, the former football player and now aspiring baseball player Tim Tebow published his second book of Christian inspirational stories, Shaken: Discovering Your True Identity in the Midst of Life’s Storms. Written with the help of ghostwriter A.J. Gregory, the book focuses not on Tebow’s life story, but on the ways he has used his religious faith to define his core values and to recover from life’s setbacks. The book’s general message is that our fundamental selves don’t depend on external circumstances, which can always change, or on money, popularity, or success. Instead, we should rely on our identities as children of God.

The book briefly addresses the highs and lows of Tebow’s football career. He excelled at being a quarterback in college at the University of Florida, winning the Heisman trophy in 2007 and becoming well known to sports media – a performance which made him a first-round draft pick during the 2010 NFL Draft. Drafted to the Denver Broncos, Tebow had two excellent seasons that ended with the team getting to the playoffs. However, even despite this success, Tebow was never viewed as a long-term prospect, since he lacked the aptitude needed for the quarterback position. He lacked passing ability, had a tendency to fumble, and had the lowest passing completion rate in the league.

The Broncos traded him to the New York Jets, who cut him after just one season of disappointing play and very little field time. After that, he was signed by the New England Patriots and the Philadelphia Eagles, both of whom cut him after training camp rather than let him on the field at all. His career of being a starting, playoff-winning quarterback who never returned to that position is unprecedented.

In the book, Tebow talks about how “shaken” the experience of this success and failure left him, and how hard it was to hold on to his faith while trying to cope with his disappointment. Instead of simply giving up, Tebow decided to dedicate his life to other things. He created the Tim Tebow Foundation, which works with kids around the world to bring them “hope, faith and love” through the Tebow Cure Hospital and by sponsoring a yearly prom-like event Night to Shine. He works with the W15H Foundation to make sick kids’ wishes come true. Moreover, he has now transitioned to become a professional baseball player, having left his football career behind.

To show just how much his Christianity helped him overcome this period of his life, Tebow fills the books with platitudes from the Bible, with motivational bits that speak to us directly, and with inspirational stories of people whom he has come to know.

One story features a young girl who was born with cerebral palsy, whose acceptance of her condition and its limitations doesn’t bring her down. Instead, for her, this is what is normal. Another teen is diagnosed with a rare cancer in high school but keeps her faith in God intact through the pain of medical treatments. Tebow also describes visiting prisoners on death row and witnessing as one of them finds his religious faith while being on suicide watch.

Many readers criticize the book on several fronts. Some complain that the book lacks depth, not acknowledging that simply saying, “You can do it, keep pressing on, it’s going to be okay, don’t get discouraged,” isn’t realistic in the face of real pain and suffering. Others can’t help but see Tebow as a man whose ego is so outsized that he doesn’t quite grasp that being fired from a professional football team isn’t the hardship that he presents it to be. He is still powerful and quite wealthy – not exactly the picture of suffering. Still others point out that the main issue with his football career was that he simply was a mediocre player – the same problem that he now faces as he tries to make his way into baseball. Playing with the Arizona Fall League, he is described as someone with a good work ethic who is just unable to master playing the outfield.