Tim Tebow drew 15,000 to an Easter service in Texas. Tebow, an NFL quarterback, talked about his role, public prayer, and "one nation under God."
Pro football player Tim Tebow drew a crowd of about 15,000 to an outdoor Easter church service Sunday, telling the gathering it's important to be outspoken about faith while admonishing athletes about not being better role models.
"In Christianity, it's the Pope and Tebow right now," Celebration Church pastor Joe Champion said. "We didn't have enough room to handle the Pope."
Tebow — devout Christian, backup National Football League quarterback and cultural phenomenon — has a flock of admirers drawn as much to his religious leanings as his skills on the field that enabled him to win the Heisman Trophy awarded to the year's best college football player.
The quarterback led the Denver Broncos to the NFL playoffs last season with an improbable string of late-game comeback wins. He was acquired by the New York Jets in a trade March 21 after the Broncos signed star quarterback Peyton Manning.
Tebow told the crowd he welcomed the attention on his convictions as well as the "Tebowing" prayer pose he often strikes on the field because it puts his faith and prayer in the public conversation.
"It's being talked about," he said. "That's exciting."
Some at the "Easter on the Hill" morning service under sunny skies about 20 miles (30 kilometers) north of Austin drove more 100 miles (160 kilometers) to hear Tebow speak. The service took on the feel of a rock concert with more than 100 school buses shuttling people to the sprawling mega-church campus from local shopping centers and the nearby college.
The service was peppered with lively Christian rock songs and Tebow took the large stage to cheers from those who could see him while others toward the back watched on massive video screens. He sat for a 20-minute interview with Champion to talk about his faith and its role in his public life.