Editor in Chief:
Donald Montague Tara Menendez
Alex Menendez Steve Kidd Donald Montague John Czajkowski Steve Johnson Romeo Guzman Dion Menendez Tim Baker Don Juan Moore Jennifer Cecil Noel Myatt Wayne Sysock David Bermejo Sam Muniz Reinhold Matay
Steve Kidd Alex Menendez Andy Nicol Tara Menendez
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Letter from the Editor I was just thinking back to the time I got my first REAL camera. I was a freshman at Valencia Community College East and was on the journalism team with many other students from the Central Florida area. I was the sports editor for the school paper even though we did not really have any sports teams to cover at the school. It was my responsibility to follow the latest breaking news in the local and professional sports world and of course, report on it! I however really wanted to become a photojournalist and capture images of these events and travel the world chasing waves and beautiful sunsets. It was at this time that my mom spent $300.00 for a RICOH 35mm film camera for me to use in school. I immediately signed up for the basic photography class and was processing my own images in no time. This was a very exciting time for me and the possibilities of where I could go were endless. I shot everything and everyone, I was well on my way to start shooting for all types of magazines, Sports Illustrated, Surfer, Thrasher, Life and Time. Unfortunately, like most things, there was no easy way into the business and it was up to me to stand out above the rest just to get noticed. To most, taking pictures is very simple, you aim at your subject, focus and press the button. Anyone can do it and now days its not too hard to take a great image, but to get published you have to stand out above the rest and capture the wonderment of the viewer, and the editor. Many years have passed and I have learned photography by trial and error, and let me tell you, there was plenty of error. Photographers today can take their time to plan out a shot and study other images to see just how they were captured, with the hope of catching something similar. The internet has opened up a whole new world for those studying to become professionals and the competition has gotten better, even though the payscale has gotten smaller. Cutbacks at newspapers and magazines have increased and though the desire to become a professional shooter is still there, many available positions have disappeared. Itâ€™s very sad actually. Today if you want to be a staff photographer or work for an agency, you are required to know how to setup the camera, pick the right glass, set lights, get into position, capture the image, edit the image on a computer, and then export the image over the internet, usually within minutes upon completion of the event. Many professional shooters I know do this type of work everyday with all types of obstacles to clear. There are weather issues, gear issues, credential issues and extreme time constraints thrust upon them at every moment. They do not do it for the money, be sure of that, they do it because they love their job and have dreams that they want to fulfill. Orlando Sports Mag is one such example of people living out their dreams. We have been around for over 4 years already but can see the future closing in fast. This month we will introduce the electronic edition of the magazine on our website for instant download to your computer and cell phone. Technology has to work for the benefit of everyone and we hope to stay on the cutting edge of sports photojournalism for many years to come. Oh, and those of you hoping to someday call yourself a pro shooter, donâ€™t give up. Alex Menendez, Editor Orlando Sports Mag
Page 8 Can the Orlando Magic get back to the NBA finals with the players that they have now?
Page 4 Tiger Woods goes from celebrated athlete to paparazzi recluse...
Page 5 An American Superhero, college hunk, or the enemy? Depends on how you see it!
Page 60 Jimmie Johnson has won the last 4 Championships. When will his run end? Will it ever?
This months cover featuring Tim Tebow was shot by professional photographer Steve Johnson. He has covered all of the sporting events at the University of Florida and has become friends with most of the athletes at the school. You can check out more of his work at: www.sjohnsonphoto.org 4
Photo: Alex Menendez
The past few months have been crazy if you were a head coach in Florida. Let me explain.... Bobby Bowden, with his 375 wins in college football, was let go by the Florida State Seminoles afThe 80-year old Head Coach announced his “retirement” on December , 009 and then went on to beat West Virginia 33-21 in his final game, the Gator Bowl. Bowden finished his career second in all-time wins behind Penn State Coach Joe Paterno. 3 years old, Bowden was diagnosed with rheumatic fever. After a six month hospital stay, Bowden was confined to his bed at home for just over a year with nothing more than his imagination to pass the time. It was also around this time that his love for football increased, as he would listen to the University of Alabama football games on Saturday mornings.Little did he know that one day, he would play Quarterback at that very same school. Bobby will surely be missed in Tallahassee and it will be interesting to see how new Head Coach Jimbo Fisher does in his first official year at the helm. 5
Down South, the University of South Florida recently fired their Head Coach Jim Leavitt for inappropriate contact with a player. On January 8, 2010 Leavitt was fired after an investigation by USF officials found he’d struck a player in the locker room during halftime of USF’s game against Louisville on November 21. Leavitt claimed he was merely trying to console the player and never struck him. School officials found that Leavitt wasn’t being truthful about what happened, and also found that he’d interfered with the investigation.ESPN reported that Leavitt’s interference, which included telling several players and coaches to change their stories, was the biggest factor in the decision to fire him.The Tampa Tribune reported that school president Judy Genshaft and athletic director Doug Woolard felt they had no choice but to fire Leavitt after he refused to admit he’d done anything wrong. Leavitt had taken the Bulls all the way up to the #2 ranking just a few short years ago and also beat the Florida State Seminoles this past season. Skip Holtz was recently hired as Head Coach, just in time to save committed recruits from jumping to other schools in the State of Florida.
Photo: Alex Menendez 6
In Gainesville it’s been a whacky checked in to a hospital.On Decem because of health and family conc priorities of faith and family.” He ville and involved with the Univer 009 Southeast Conference Cham revealed that Meyer’s current heal Meyer also said that his problems On December 7, Meyer announc for the 00 season saying: “I do Bearcats on January , 00. In a post-game interview after the of the Gators. With Tim Tebow and other player
Photo: Alex Menendez
time indeed. Gators Head Coach Urban Meyer lost a heartbreaker to eventual BCS Champions Alabama and then mber 6, 009, Meyer announced he would resign as head coach of the Florida Gators following their bowl game cerns. Meyer stated: “I have ignored my health for years, but recent developments have forced me to re-evaluate my also said: “I’m proud to be a part of the Gainesville community and the Gator Nation and I plan to remain in Gainesrsity of Florida.” Meyer had been admitted into a Gainesville hospital on December 6 after the Gators’ loss in the mpionship game, due to dehydration. Meyer said that he had been experiencing similar problems for many years. It was lth problems include a non-life threatening heart muscle defect, and persistent headaches caused by an arachnoid cyst. s were related to stress, imagine that. ced that he would not resign but instead would take a leave of absence. He also indicated that he would return as coach in my gut believe that will happen.” Meyer coached the Gators in their 5–4 Sugar Bowl victory over the Cincinnati
e Sugar Bowl, Meyer indicated that he would coach the Gators again at some point by saying: “I plan on being the coach
rs jumping to the NFL, and defensive coordinator Charlie Strong leaving, lets see if he stays.
The Pieces are beginning to fall into Place
PHOTOS AND STORY BY ALEX MENENDEZ
Story / Photos: Alex Menendez
The NBA season is almost to it’s halfway point and the Orlando Magic are still considered one of the top ten teams in the league at this point. The dismantling of last seasons roster was questionable at first with many claiming that the release of Hedo Turkoglu for the experienced but aging Vince Carter was a big mistake. We now see that even though Vince has had his shares of injuries and missed a few games with the Magic, his presence has actually helped bring this young team some much needed confidence and advice to some of the younger players on the team. Team chemistry is always an overlooked factor in how a team will finish the season and the bond that seems to be forming with the players should help the Magic make it back to the playoffs at the very least. Rashard Lewis continues to shine even though his superstar status has been in question lately. Rashard continues to show up every night yet many feel his contributions to the team could always be increased. He ranks third in scoring for the Magic behind Dwight Howard and Vince Carter yet plays the most minutes per game. His 3 point shots however are what define Lewis and without him, the Magic would struggle to compete. Dwight Howard continues to shine this year and is considered the face of the franchise and is once again leading in nominations for the All-Star Game. This big man has finally matured and seems to have taken his game up a notch or two from last season. His free throw accuracy and mental toughness are now legit (thanks mostly to Patrick Ewing) and other teams now have the daunting task of deciding whether to foul the big guy or not late in the game. Dwight will no doubt be a fan favorite again both in Orlando and in other cities. Paired with the television acting dou of Charles Barkley and Dwyane Wade, Dwights face is sure to be recognized far and wide, even to those who don’t follow basketball. Clevelands LeBron James, considered the best in the game this year, was knocked out in the Eastern Finals by the Magic and will probably the team to beat again this year, lets see how Dwight handles the pressure to make it to the Finals while going through Cleveland. The return of speedster Jameer Nelson has helped the team gain toughness and the element of suprise. Sports Illustrated named Jameer as one of the college basketball players of the decade, THE DECADE!!! , for his role in guiding the Saint Josephs Hawks to an undefeated regular season in 03-04. The pint-sized point guard has been the heart of the Magic and his understanding of the game only helps to bolster the Magics winning record this season. Jameer is one of the most aggressive players to start for the Magic and is the player to watch for the remainder of the season. Just like the tattoo on his back says, “All Eyes On Me”. 10
J.J. Redick brings energy to the game when he steps off the bench and he is still looking for his big break with the team. Stan Van Gundy must surely see something in J.J., why else would he still be around? After the Hawks game, Coach said “JJ is, well look, I’ve said it all along, he’s just the guy that I think we’ve come to trust and by we I mean not only the coaches but his teammates. I think if you ask them he’s not going to make mistakes, he’s a tough guy he’s going to compete hard, he’s going to try and make the right play, he’s an unselfish guy, he’s all about winning and he focuses and works every single day and I hold him up as an example to some of the younger guys because I think a lot of times in this league you think, ‘I’m not playing right now, I’m never going to play.’ Which is exactly how JJ, after my first year JJ was like, ‘You guys should trade me, I’m never going to play here,’ the whole thing. They think things never change, but he just kept working and getting better. Then obviously last year he started in the Boston series and was still playing significantly through the rest of the Playoffs including the Lakers and now he’s playing even more. You keep working at it like he does, and his focus and you keep learning everyday and I think what happens is, he’s still not he quickest most athletic guy but as experience comes, he’s ahead of the play so he can keep up defensively. You know as a rookie, well I didn’t see him as much as a rookie, but as a second year guy, he’d be a half-a-count behind. Well he’s not athletic enough to be a half-a-count behind. Now he’s not a half-a-count behind, he’s right into what he’s doing. It’s the value of experience, especially for a smart, tough guy who works at it everyday.” Redick has improved his game in the past year and his numbers have increased, as a sixth man, J.J. is doing a great job. Other notable players this season that are showing up consistently are newly aquired Ryan Anderson and Matt Barnes, both continue to play well and learn the system. In general, the Orlando Magic are a very good team, just not a Great team, yet .There is some room for improvement and they still need to learn each others skills and bond just a bit more. With proper coaching,the right attitude, and with everyone staying healthy, they should make it back to the Playoffs, but how far they advance past there is anyones guess, lets see how the rest of the season goes and if they can get hot as the Playoffs arrive.
Photo: Steve Johnson
12 Photo: Alex Menendez
PHOTOS AND STORY BY ALEX MENENDEZ
PHOTOS AND STORY BY ALEX MENENDEZ 5
Tiger Woods was announced the Associated Press past ten years, but can that announcement outshine his last fewby months? Tiger Woods was announced by the Associated Press as their “Athlete of the Decade” for his golf game over the
is no doubt in anyone’s mind that Tiger is the most dominant athlete in his sport and will surely finish his asThere their “Athlete of the Decade” for his golf game over the past ten years, career as the best ever to play the game, if he returns to the PGA tour while he still has his skills! The shocking sex scandal has given him numerous amounts of tabloidhis coverage blogmonths? fodder should only be a bump in the but canthatthat announcement outshine lastandfew road for him and will most likely be swept under the rug in a few years, if he can keep his act together and avoid There islike nohedoubt anyone’s mind thatThanksgiving Tiger isnight. the most dominant aththe media has since in his automobile accident on that Speculation what and really will happened betweenfinish Tiger andhis wifecareer Elin is just speculation, no oneto will ever the lete in hisabout sport surely asthat, the best ever play know what really happened on that night in his driveway and with law enforcement quickly closing the case, you game, returns might as if wellhe consider it over.to the PGA tour while he still has his skills! The shockSure, Mr. Woods has lost hundreds of millions of dollars with his alleged indescretions but do you really think that ing sex scandal that has given him numerous amounts of tabloid coverage he could have spent all of that money anyways? You can only have and enjoy so much in a 7 day week (or so I’ve been blog told), hefodder will be justshould fine. and only be a bump in the road for him and will most likely be swept the rug init.aHefew years, ifaround he can keep his act togethTiger Woods IS GOLF,under make no mistake about has won 64 times the world including 12 majors. has only lost one timemedia when entering round while leading and he has had more coverage on in thethat golf erHeand avoid the likethehefinal has since his automobile accident magazines and websites than any other player, ever! Television coverage and PGA rights to broadcast the events Thanksgiving night. seem to be based on HIS schedule and prize money on the Tour has quadrupled since he joined the tour. “Get in the hole” seems toabout be his calling cardreally on Tour and for those thatbetween have been a Tiger spectator and while he was playing Speculation what happened wife Elin inis town, the sea of fans that converge on him know how ridiculous it is to actually watch him tee off. The man domijust speculation, one will know what really Ali happened that nates,that, and is already a legend, at no the age of 35. He isever the secong coming of Muhammed if you are oldon enough to remember those days. night in his driveway and with law enforcement quickly closing the case, Off the greens, as Tigerwell seemsconsider to be a very charitable you might it over.guy, though extremely private. His Tiger Woods Learning Center is a 35,000 square foot educational facility in California that children in grades Sure, Woods hasJamlost hundreds of he millions of dollars with his alleged 4-12 useMr. regularly. The Tiger fundraising concert that sponsors includes such performers as Sting, Stevie Wonder and Bon Jovi and has raised over $10 million dollars for charity, and his Foundation focuses on projects indescretions but do you really think that he could have spent all of that for disadvantaged children. There is no doubt that he has a caring side to him, but what will his own family life money anyways? only so force, much a 7Tiger day be like in the next decade?You Tigers can late father Earlhave was hisand mentorenjoy and driving and in taught lifesweek lessons and his golf game. This one on one contact is surely what made Tiger who he is today, hopefully, over time, Tiger (or so I’ve been told), he will be just fine. will be able to help guide and shape the lives of his two children Sam and Charlie. A missing father is a very hard experience for a young child to grow up without...
Tiger IS elusive GOLF, nohasmistake aboutsince it.hisHe hasand won 64 times So whatWoods is next for the Tigermake Woods? He been in seclusion incident has announced an indefinite leave of absence from professional golf to focus on his marriage. Several major sponsors have dropped around the world including 12 majors. He has only lost one time when him and most of his television commercials have been pulled from the air. Nike is standing by him and it will be entering final roundhaswhile andline, hewhat haswillhad more coverage inbe interesting tothe see just his publicity hurt or leading helped their golf his fans do? Will the PGA Tour alright without him, will Phil and Mickleson actually start winning a few events? Only time will tellTelevision but let me assure the golf magazines websites than any other player, ever! you this, the next decade of golf should actually be somewhat fun to watch without the same player always wincoverage ning the event.and PGA rights to broadcast the events seem to be based on HIS schedule and prize money on the Tour has quadrupled since he joined the tour. “Get in the hole” seems to be his calling card on Tour and for those that have been a spectator while he was playing in town, the sea of fans that converge on him know how ridiculous it is to actually watch him tee off. The man dominates, and is already a legend, at the age of 35. He is the second coming of Muhammed Ali if you are old enough to remember those days. 17
Off the greens, Tiger seems to be a very charitable guy, though extremely private. His Tiger Woods Learning Center is a 35,000 square foot educational facility in California that children in grades 4- use regularly. The Tiger Jam fundraising concert that he sponsors includes such performers as Sting, Stevie Wonder and Bon Jovi and has raised over $0 million dollars for charity, and his Foundation focuses on projects for disadvantaged children. There is no doubt that he has a caring side to him, but what will his own family life be like in the next decade? Tigers late father Earl was his mentor and driving force, and taught Tiger lifes lessons and his golf game. This one on one contact is surely what made Tiger who he is today, hopefully, over time, Tiger will be able to help guide and shape the lives of his two children Sam and Charlie. A missing father is a very hard experience for a young child to grow up without... So what is next for the elusive Tiger Woods? He has been in seclusion since his incident and has announced an indefinite leave of absence from professional golf to focus on his marriage. Several major sponsors have dropped him and most of his television commercials have been pulled from the air. Nike is standing by him and it will be interesting to see just his publicity has hurt or helped their golf line, what will his fans do? Will the PGA Tour be alright without him, will Phil Mickleson actually start winning a few events? Only time will tell but let me assure you this, the next decade of golf should actually be somewhat fun to watch without the same player always winning the event. 8
THE YEAR IN PICTURES ORLANDO SPORTS MAG PHOTOGRAPHERS SHOW US SOME OF THEIR FAVORITE SHOTS FROM THE PAST YEAR.
PHOTOGRAPHER STEVE JOHNSON SHOT ALL OF THE FLORIDA GATORS FOOTBALL GAMES THIS YEAR. A PHOTOGRAPHER STEVE JOHNSON SHOT ALL OF THE DREAM JOB, YOU BETCHA! FLORIDA GATORS FOOTBALL GAMES THIS YEAR,
ALEX MENENDEZ SNAPPED THIS IMAGE AFTER THE PITTSBURGH STEELERS DEFEATED THE ARIZONA CARDINALS TO WIN SUPER BOWL 43 IN TAMPA. BEN ROETHLISBERGER HUGS MVP SANTONIO HOLMES DURING THE AFTER GAME CELEBRATION.
Omar Cummings of Jamaica shoots on goal during the first half of play during the opening round of the CONCACAF Gold Cup between El Salvador and Jamaica at Florida Intl University Stadium in Miami, Florida. Photo by Alex Menendez
Omar Cummings of Jamaica shoots on goal during the first half of play during the opening round of the CONCACAF Gold Cup between El Salvador and Jamaica at Florida Intl University Stadium in Miami, Florida. Photo by Alex Menendez 5
DONALD MONTAGUE WAS THERE WHEN THE TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS WORE THEIR THROWBACK GAME JERSEYS AGAINST THE GREEN BAY PACKERS. IT WAS THE FIRST CAREER WIN FOR BOTH ROOKIE QUARTERBACK JOSH FREEMAN AND HEAD COACH RAHEEM MORRIS.
DONALD MONTAGUE WAS THERE WHEN THE TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS WORE THEIR THROWBACK GAME JERSEYS AGAINST THE GREEN BAY PACKERS. IT WAS THE FIRST CAREER WIN FOR BOTH ROOKIE QUARTERBACK JOSH FREEMAN AND HEAD COACH RAHEEM MORRIS. 7
THE JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS PRACTICALLY SOLD OUT THE STADIUM FOR A PRE-SEASON GAME AGAINST THE TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS. THE SKY LIT UP NIGHT AFTER A THUNDEROUS RAIN STORM PASSED BY. PHOTO:ALEX MENENDEZ
THE AMWAY ARENA WAS THE OFFICIAL STOMPING GROUNDS FOR THE AMWAY ARENA WAS THE STOMPING THE NBA FINALS BETWEEN THEOFFICIAL ORLANDO MAGIC AND THE LOS GROUNDS FOR THE NBA FINALS BETWEEN THE ORLANDO ANGELES LAKERS. NEXT YEAR THE MAGIC WILL PLAY IN A NEW MAGICARENA AND THE LOS ANGELES LAKERS. NEXT YEAR THE DOWN THE STREET. PHOTO:ALEX MENENDEZ MAGIC WILL PLAY IN A NEW ARENA DOWN THE STREET. PHOTO:ALEX MENENDEZ
LEX HILLIARD OF THE MIAMI DOLPHINS GETS CRUSHED BY THE BUCCANEERS DEFENSE. PHOTO: ALEX MENENDEZ
THE ORLANDO PREDATORS OF THE ARENA FOOTBALL THE ORLANDO PREDATORS OF THE ARENA FOOTBALL LEAGUE LEAGUE WERE FORCED TO SHUT DOWN WHEN THE AFL WERE FORCED TO SHUT DOWN WHEN THE AFL CLOSED ITS DOORS CLOSED ITS DOORS AFTER 18 YEARS. RUMORS HAVE IT AFTER 18 YEARS. RUMORS HAVE IT THAT ANOTHER LEAGUE IS THAT ANOTHER LEAGUE IS SHAPING UP TO PLAY THIS YEAR. SHAPING UP TO PLAY THIS YEAR. PHOTO: ALEX MENENDEZ PHOTO: ALEX MENENDEZ
PHOTOGRAPHER WAYNE SYSOCK WAS IN THE RIGHT PLACE AT THE PHOTOGRAPHER WAYNE SYSOCK WAS IN THE RIGHT PLACE AT THE RIGHT TIME DURING THIS PLAY AT THE CAPITAL ONE BOWL. THE FIELD RIGHT TIME DURING THIS PLAY AT THE CAPITAL ONE BOWL. THE FIELD WAS COVERED IN MUD FROM A TORRENTIAL RAINSTORM THAT HIT WAS COVERED IN MUD FROM A TORRENTIAL RAINSTORM THAT HIT EARLIER IN THE MORNING. WAYNE WORKED HIS WAY INTO THE COREARLIER IN THE MORNING. WAYNE WORKED HIS WAY INTO THE CORNER AND CAPTURED THIS AMAZING SHOT AND WAS SEEN ON EVERY NER AND CAPTURED THIS AMAZING SHOT AND WAS SEEN ON EVERY HIGHLIGHT FOOTBALL SHOW THAT EVENING. HIGHLIGHT FOOTBALL SHOW THAT EVENING.
THE FLORIDA STATE SEMINOLES WERE KNOCKED OFF BY THE VISITING USF BULLS AT HOME THIS SEASON. THE BULLS ARE QUICKLY BECOMING A FORCE TO BE RECKONED WITH. PHOTO: ALEX MENENDEZ 38
THE NCAA’S WINNINGEST COACH OF ALL TIME, JOE PATERNO, GETS DUMPED ON AFTER DEFEATING THE LSU TIGERS IN THE CAPITAL ONE BOWL. PHOTO: ALEX MENENDEZ 40
NASCAR CHAMPION JIMMIE JOHNSON PULLS INTO THE PITS AT HOMESTEAD SPEEDWAY. JOHNSON IS ONCE AGAIN FAVORED TO WIN THE SPRINT SERIES. PHOTO: ALEX MENENDEZ 4
THE ORLANDO MAGIC BEAT THE CELTICS AND CAVALIERS TO ADVANCE TO THE NBA FINALS. HERE ALEX MENENDEZ USES A REMOTE CAMERA TO CAPTURE THE ACTION.
THE UNITED FOOTBALL LEAGUE STARTED PLAY THIS YEAR WITH THE THE UNITED FOOTBALL LEAGUE YEAR ORLANDO TUSKERS LEADING THE STARTED LEAGUE. PLAY THEYTHIS MADE IT TOWITH THE THE ORLANDO TUSKERS LEADING THE LEAGUE. THEY IT TO THE FINAL CHAMPIONSHIP GAME WHERE THEY LOST IN MADE OVERTIME. FINAL CHAMPIONSHIP GAME WHERE THEY LOST IN OVERTIME. PHOTO: ALEX MENENDEZ PHOTO: ALEX MENENDEZ 47
DON MONTAGUE WAS THERE AT THE FINISH LINE WHEN KYLE BUSCH WRECKED IN DAYTONA. DON’S LAST IMAGE AT THE FINISH LINE IN DAYTONA APPEARED AS A DOUBLE TRUCK SPREAD IN SPORTS ILLUSTRATED. 48
ARIZONA CARDINAL QUARTERBACK KURT WARNER COULDN’T WATCH THE LAST MINUTE OF SUPER BOWL 43 IN TAMPA. THE STEELERS CAME BACK AND WON THE GAME AT THE END. PHOTO: ALEX MENENDEZ
A real life SUPERHERO I betcha didn’t know that Superman’s father is a preacher. Yup, its true!
Keep in mind will you that I am not speaking of the Superman that we’ve all seen in the DC Comics magazines, or the self proclaimed Supermen better known as Shaq and Dwight, nope, I’m talking about a real to life, no nonsense Superman, who flies under the radar going by the alias of Tim Tebow. Rumors have it, this guy can do it all, battle men twice as big as him, run as fast as a cheetah and melt you with his caring heart and kindness. This is the Heisman winning quarterback, who guided his Florida Gators football team to National Championships over the past 4 years. The same guy who broke down into tears on National television and gave an amazing pep talk, only to rebound and lead his team as if they were an army going to war. Yes kids, superheroes do exist, even if they don’t truly know how to fly. Superman was almost never born. In 987, Bob and Pam Tebow were serving in the Phillipines as Christian Missionaries, trying to spread the word of God and the Bible. A pregnant Pam suffered a life threatening infection and had to be administered drugs to wake her from her coma. The doctors, expecting a still born baby, suggested that she have an abortion. Based on the power of their faith, the doctors orders were quickly ignored and Timothy Richard Tebow was born, healthy and very much alive. To this day, and much to the delight of Florida Gator football fans, parents Pam and Bob know that they had made the right decision. His story and personal experience will now come to light as Tim has joined forces with the conservative pro-life group Focus on the Family, and is being featured in a 30-second television commercial that will be seen by almost 100 million viewers during Super Bowl XLIV this February. This is the first National television spot if its kind to be aired during the biggest sporting event of the year, and the cost to air the spot just one time is believed to be approximately $3 million. One thing is for sure, Tim is not afraid to let his feelings be known. Tim regularly wears black bands across his cheeks during football games with Psalms and Bible quotes written in them, and his energy to spread the word of God is never ending. Teammates that were once questioning their own faith and ideals have been transformed and so has the Gator coaching staff. Head Coach Urban Meyer, a very religious man himself, traveled with his wife and three children to the Dominican Republic in July with Tim. They traveled as part of a group from SCORE International, an organization that runs mission trips for athletic teams, church youth groups, educators, medical teams, high school classes and construction teams to 0 countries to evangelize and support the local church. Meyer said his family helped feed 00 families daily and spent time at an all-girls orphanage and a leper colony.
“Tim has done a lot of things that opened my eyes, and that’s one of them,” Meyer said. “To have our children experience that, with three other families, it was a life-changing experience. It’s something we’re going to, if possible, do every year.”
STORY: ALEX MENENDEZ PHOTOS: STEVE JOHNSON 53
Tim has also helped people who are not so fortunate by visiting them in hospitals, prisons and small churches. His actions speak louder than his words also, like this past November when he was in Orlando for an awards show at Disney. A 20 year old girl named Kelly Faughnan, who had been diagnosed with a brain tumor, had but one wish, to visit the awards show to get a glimpse and perhaps just a fleeting photo of Superman in person. It just so happens that Tim saw this young lady wearing an “I LOVE Timmy” button in the crowd and introduced himself. The next night, in a brand new dress, Tim and a smiling Kelly, with a visible limp, strolled down the red carpet as fans cheered and flashbulbs popped all around the two. It was a sight to see and Kellys’ only words to the television cameraman was “It’s the best thing ever!” You have to see the video to know just how special of a moment this was to both Kelly and Tebow fans alike. Just another day in the life of a Superhero, calm, cool and collected. Tim has been given the gift of knowledge and faith by his father Bob, the leader of the Bob Tebow Evangelistic Association. Founded in 1985, this group features a staff of almost 50 Filipino pastors that have taught over 15 million parishioners. The ministry has also helped over 10,000 churches and opened an orphanage that is home to over 50 children. The front page of the BTEA website says this, The Bob Tebow Evangelistic Association has been serving in the Philippines since 1985 with five major priorities: Evangelism, Church Planting, Pastor Training, an Orphanage, and the Training of the Next Generation of Evangelists. It is the primary goal of BTEA to make the gospel of Jesus Christ available to every person in the world. Having grown up helping the people of the Philippines, Tim and his family are both blessed and fortunate to be in the position that they now find themselves in. American Football is a huge business around the world and with Tim’s athletic ability and bright NFL future, his message can only get bigger and the audience broader.
Having grown up in the Jacksonville area as a boy and playing as an All-Star quarterback for Nease High School, Tim has accumulated quite a following in North Florida. In fact, the fans of the NFL’s Jacksonville Jaguars are hoping for him to picked up by the team in this years NFL draft. The team has been struggling with attendance records for the past few years and had almost every home game blacked out on the local television stations this season. Governor Charlie Crist has even lobbied the Jaguars to consider picking Tim in the first round this year. Jaguars owner Wayne Weaver stated,” He (Tebow) clearly is an outstanding football player and would be an asset to any football organization. Clearly there’s going to be a groundswell for Tebow, and we’ll have to make that evaluation if we have a draft pick that’s going to be anywhere near him.”
Regardless of where Tim ends up, he will surely be a target for those who do not agree with his message or beliefs.
Jealousy and ignorance breeds contempt and Tim is well aware of the naysayers. Media coverage is good but too much can lead to burnout and that’s precisely what seems to have happened to Tim after he won the Heisman trophy. Rival fans started message boards on the internet and others just grew tired of hearing how good and perfect Tim was. The next couple of years only increased the hatred for some as Tim kept getting better and better by winning another BCS Championship, more awards and more Heisman nominations. Unfortunately for the haters, everything positive that has been said about him seems to be true! The only way to truly deal with it is to ignore it or convert, as many have done. The legend of this young man from Florida continues to grow whether you are a fan of him or not. Nobody knows where he will end up or what is next on his agenda, all we can do is watch closely, Tim will surely show up when we least expect it…or need him most.
Can anyone beat Jimmie Johnson
60 Photo: Alex Menendez
Jimmie Johnson must be deaf. He is the quietest Champion you are ever going to meet. The driver of the No.48 Lowes Chevrolet for Hendrick Motorsports captured his fourth consecutive NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship on November 22, something that has never been done before in the 61 year history of NASCAR, and to those outside of the sport, he still seems relatively unknown. Sure, he may appear on some billboards around the track, or on the cover of most racing magazines and even get interviewed on ESPN and Speed Channel, but how many of us really know him? What we do know is that he is not the boisterous loud mouth or selfish jock that some other sports need to draw attention to themselves and he’s never been arrested or been accused of domestic violence, he’s just Jimmie, a race car driver. Well, actually he’s just a bit more than that, he is THE driver, the one everyone has been chasing for the past 4 years. Jimmie Johnson was born in 1975 in California and began racing motorcycles at the age of 5. He won the 60 cc class championship at age 8, and then starting racing off-road not long after that. Many racing leagues followed after that and he eventually worked his was into the drivers seat of the NASCAR Busch Series where he would meet current Crew Chief Chad Knaus. In 2002, Jimmie was invited to drive for Hendrick Motorsports and the rest they say is history. He was won on the Sprint Series 47 times including the Daytona 500, The Brickyard 400 and the Spring All-Star race. Jimmie is also the only driver to make all six Chases, the new championship format designed by NASCAR. In the 60 Chase races that he has competed in, Jimmie has a series high 18 wins, for a winning percentage of 30%. This is huge of course because just like the NFL playoffs, you could be the best team all year, but once the playoffs begin and you win, you keep advancing, you lose or finish poorly and the championship falls quickly out of reach. The points for the last 10 races are huge, and Jimmie seems to blossom late in the game year after year. Jimmie has also finished in the top five in the NASCAR Sprint Cup point standings each year since his first season in 2002. Older and more experienced drivers have admitted that he truly is special. Teammate and driver Mark Martin, who finished second overall this year had this to say about Jimmie, “I’m pretty sure that dude is Superman. And, you know, I have had the opportunity to see up close. I’m telling you, I see why he is so successful. I see why. He works harder at it than anybody else, I think, on the circuit.” The life of a professional athlete is very hard and strenuous and the toll that traveling takes can really wear on you no matter what industry you are in. To make matters worse, racing in a car wearing a flame retardant fire suit, HANS device and a helmet has got to be extremely taxing. It is hard work day in and day out and then you actually have to race for 4 hours while trying to avoid getting wrecked or spun into the wall. This is a very dangerous sport, one that only a select few are privleged to experience, much less win. When asked why he does it, Jimmie thought hard and then stated, “I’ve wanted my whole life to be able -- to be a champion, to compete against the best drivers in the world. With what we have going on in our sport, the competition, I don’t see where else there is to race.” And with that he was gone.
People of all sorts have been playing catch with Jimmie, trying to get him to settle down and answer a few questions or just get an autograph, but he has turned into a very busy man. The Associated Press this year named Jimmie Johnson as the Male Athlete of the Year, becoming the first race car driver to win this prestigious award in the 78 years it has been presented. Johnson and the No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet team at Hendrick Motorsports have elevated themselves to the “dynasty” level. And, taking into consideration that this award has been presented in the past to such superstars as Lance Armstrong, Tiger Woods, Michael Jordan, Joe Montana, Carl Lewis, Muhammad Ali, Sandy Koufax, Mickey Mantle, Willie Mays, Byron Nelson, Joe DiMaggio, Jesse Owens, and Joe Louis, it’s safe to say that Johnson has etched his named alongside some of sports’ greatest of all-time. “We’d been wondering the last few years, ‘When is this going to hit?’” Johnson told the Associated Press. “It seems like the answer is now. The wave is finally peaking and we don’t know where it’s going to take us. The fourth-straight title takes it out of our sport and makes it a point of discussion like, ‘Wow, a race car driver won this thing.’” Johnson received 42 votes from editors at U.S. newspapers which are members of the AP. Tennis star Roger Federer (30 votes) and Olympic gold medalist sprinter Usain Bolt (29) were the only other athletes with totals in the double-digits. Swimmer Michael Phelps, who won a record eight Olympic gold medals in the 2008 Beijing Games, was last year’s recipient. Johnson’s selection also validated the belief of Bill France Sr. that NASCAR drivers are indeed “athletes,” an assertion the late NASCAR founder said was crucial in further developing the sport. “Over 60 years ago, my father set out to make NASCAR part of the tradiPhoto: Alex Menendez tional American sports landscape,” Jim France wrote. “He believed the recognition of drivers as athletes was a key element in validating motor racing as a legitimate sport.” Not only is the AP taking notice, President Barack Obama even had Jimmie stop by the White House with his car to talk shop. Not only was this publicity great for the sport and its diversity program, but it showed just how calm and cool Jimmie handles the pressure of being in the spotlight. President Obama and Jimmie started joking and Barack even made Jimmie promise not to do any burnouts in the backyard. Team Owner Rick Hendrick was also very happy with the performance of the No.48 team this year. Lowes and Hendrick Motorsports have signed a deal to keep the relationship alive through 2013 and Jimmie just inked a deal that should keep him with Hendrick through the year 2015. “Jimmie Johnson and Hendrick Motorsports are a key part of our marketing efforts and outreach to our more than 225,000 employees,” said Robert A. Niblock, Lowe’s chairman and CEO. “We believe this is the best combination in racing, and we’re proud to have Jimmie carry the Lowe’s name in NASCAR.” Hendrick says, “Jimmie is charting new territory in our sport, and that’s due to a combination of natural talent and unsurpassed work ethic. How he’s committed himself is just incredible, and it shows in everything that he does -- not just on the racetrack. There’s no question that he’s one of the great champions in all of sports, and he’s not done yet.” Keep your eyes posted on this upcoming NASCAR season that kicks off at the Daytona 500, and if Jimmie walks by you, know this, he’s not really deaf, he’s just extremely focused on winning his 5th Championship.
Photo: Alex Menendez
64 Photo: Alex Menendez
Guest Column By Cathy Elliott/ NASCAR Media Today, I went online and ordered a No. 7 Danica Patrick T-shirt. Let’s just make one thing perfectly clear from the outset -- I am not a person who is inclined to wear hot girls on my T-shirts. I have a shelf full of Tony Stewart and Brian Vickers T-shirts, and if they make one with Gerard Butler on it, count me in, but that’s it. In a perfect world, I’d be wearing a hot girl IN my T-shirts, but that’s another dream for another day. Because today we’re talking about someone else’s dream, an early Christmas wish come true for NASCAR. On December 8, all the speculation that’s been going on for months, even years, ﬁnally reached its conclusion when Danica Patrick, the face of the IndyCar Series, formally announced a two-year NASCAR Nationwide Series deal with JR Motorsports. The team is co-owned by Kelley Earnhardt, Tony Eury, Jr., Rick Hendrick and Dale Earnhardt, Jr., the face of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. When the faces of two major motorsports series come together, it makes for a pretty picture indeed, and an even better photo op. Sitting around talking with my friends lately, who are mostly guys, I am often asked my opinion of Danica’s upcoming foray into the world of stock car racing. I think they’re expecting me to say two things, the ﬁrst being “Meow,” and the second the prediction of a miserable failure. Remember that Pantene shampoo ad campaign in the 1980s featuring model Kelly Le Brock? She opened the commercial with the line, “Don’t hate me because I’m beautiful.” In my experience, men seem to think women are always critical of other women who are younger, prettier or more successful than they are. Sometimes that’s true, but not always. There seems to be no logical rule on this. We’re not crazy about Demi Moore, for example, but we love Sandra Bullock. Jennifer Aniston is a favorite; Angelina Jolie, not so much. Sharon Stone sets us to grinding our teeth, but Drew Barrymore makes us smile. Here’s what we know about Danica Patrick. Her racing career began in go-karts at an early age. She gradually moved up through the ranks until her big break came -- she signed with Rahal Letterman in 2002, perhaps the only thing David Letterman hasn’t felt the need to apologize for in recent memory. She is a former Rookie of the Year winner. She moved to a new team, Andretti Autosport, in 2007, earned her ﬁrst victory in 2008 and ﬁnished third in the 2009 Indianapolis 500. She plans to ease her way into NASCAR, competing in the ARCA Series race at Daytona and the NASCAR Nationwide Series races in Fontana and Las Vegas to open the season. “I think my determination and commitment are really going to be what makes this thing go well,” she said in a recent press conference. “I’m a competitive driver, and I always want to do well, and this will be absolutely no different.” She hates to lose and sometimes behaves badly when that happens. She also likes stiletto heels. As I write this, it occurs to me that Patrick is starting to sound a little bit like Kyle Busch. Without the stilettos, of course, as far as we know. When a big name such as Patrick’s is on the entry list of a support race, it brings a smile to a track promoter’s face. I daresay the ARCA race at Daytona International Speedway in February 2010 may post the largest attendance, and the widest grins, in that series’ history. She is a role model for aspiring young racers. And despite her immense popularity over in the IndyCar Series, the magazine covers, music videos, TV commercials and the rest, she has proven to have some humility. To begin at the bottom when you’ve gotten so comfortable at the top surely must be a bitter pill to swallow, but she’s taking her medicine like a big girl, and smiling as she does it. So yes, I do like Danica Patrick, very much. She is a successful athlete and will be good for the sport of NASCAR. I am looking forward to wearing my new T-shirt while watching what she can do behind the wheel of a stock car, and her story will be an interesting one to follow. Because it isn’t the story of some wannabe competitor, or of “girl power.” It is the story of a race car driver and the power of NASCAR.
Photo: Alex Menendez 67