SAN DIEGO, Calif. (CBS) -- Tim Tebow of the New York Jets traveled to enemy territory on Sunday, appearing at a packed stadium in San Diego. But this visit was about faith, not football. Thousands came to hear what Tebow had to say about being a Christian role model.
Seven months after sending the San Diego Charges to one of their most crushing defeats of the season, former Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow returned to QualComm Stadium on Sunday. Tebow says, "It feels really good to get an applause in this stadium, It's never happened before."
But this time, Tebow wasn't there to play football. He spoke at a massive Father's Day church service led by evangelical leader David Jeremiah.
Over 26,000 worshippers, many sporting Tebow's number 15 football jersey spent the morning tailgating before heading inside the stadium to hear the New York Jets backup quarterback talk about how his father inspired him to be the greatest football player he possibly could. Tebow says, "Every time I'd go to practice from then on out id always think about what my Dad said to me, do I really love what I'm doing, am I passionate about it, and am I willing to sacrifice more than anyone else is willing to sacrifice because those three things are really easy to say- they're very hard to do. Cause if you have those three things than whatever it is your going to try and accomplish I think you're going to be pretty successful."
Ever since coming into the spotlight, Tebow's influence as an outspoken Christian athlete has grown exponentially. Richard Vazquez says, "Basically I wanted to spend some time with my son and see Tim Tebow; he's a hero or role model that I want my kids to see versus the guy whose getting arrested."
Claudia Denure says, "I think he's a good role model for our students, for our kids, he's a good role model for all of us and when he gives glory to God that's what we want. He's very humble. I love how he's humble, very giving, I love how he helps other people and his charities, foundation, he's very kind...and he's cute."
A role Tebow has enthusiastically embraced. He says, "The world looks at me and thinks I'm a football player that's a Christian. I look at me and think I'm a Christian that happens to play football."
Following the service, Tebow headed back to the Big Apple. The first preseason game is less than two months away.