Tebow changes phone number after getting hundreds of threatening messages

Updated: October 9, 2007, 8:05 PM ET
Associated Press

GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Quarterback Tim Tebow said Tuesday he received hundreds of threatening messages on his cell phone leading up to Florida's game at top-ranked LSU.

They were the reason Tebow pretended to dial a cell phone after his first touchdown pass, a 2-yarder to Kestahn Moore that made it 10-0 in the second quarter.

Tebow said many of the messages contained physical threats and most included foul language.

"I really don't use that type of language too much, so I can't tell you," Tebow said, declining to reveal any of the messages. "Some people did take it way too far, farther than you should take it with sports. But I think for the most part people were just having fun. Unfortunately, there's people like that everywhere."

Tebow said the messages started coming early last week and increased in number as the game got closer. He eventually turned the phone off, but had to listen to each voice message and read each text message before deleting them.

He got a new number Monday, two days after Florida's 28-24 loss that dropped the Gators (4-2) four spots to No. 13 in the latest Associated Press college football poll.

"An interesting experience, just handling it all," said Tebow, the son of a missionary. "But it wasn't too much."

Tebow assumed the messages from LSU fans, especially given the nature of them. There also were reports out of Baton Rouge that students were walking around campus the day of the game wearing T-shirts with Tebow's cell phone printed on them.

"It's absolutely insane," Tebow's father, Bob Tebow said. "It's egregious. [Messages] were pouring in. He would not tell me all the stuff. He told his brothers and they told me some, but they wouldn't tell me everything."

Tebow accounted for three touchdowns in the game. He ran 16 times for 67 yards and a score and completed 12 of 26 passes for 158 yards and two TDs.

After his first TD pass, Tebow pretended as if he had a cell phone in his left hand and dialed numbers with his right. He then put it up to his ear and stared into the stands at Tiger Stadium.

"They were having fun with me, so I was having fun with them, too," he said. "It's what college football is all about. It's just fun, and I had fun with it. I know it probably got under their skin a little bit."

Coach Urban Meyer said the ordeal made him concerned for his players' safety. He also gave Tebow a quick and easy way to handle the situation.

"It's easy to just get rid of your phone," Meyer said. "I told Tim 'Just dump it and get another one.'"

Tebow didn't have much choice.


Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press