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Tim Tebow draws national criticism after saying collegiate athletes shouldn’t be paid

The former Florida Gators quarterback was passionate in his reasoning for why student-athletes shouldn’t make money. It didn’t sit well with many in the media, including other ESPN employees.
FILE - In this Aug. 6, 2014, file photo, Tim Tebow answers a question during a interview on the set of ESPN's new SEC Network in Charlotte, N.C. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton, File) NY161
Published Sep. 15
Updated Sep. 16

Regardless if you agree or not, the firestorm created by Tim Tebow’s comments about not paying college athletes could be seen throughout Twitter all weekend — drawing criticism from former players, media colleagues and sparking debate among countless fans.

While talking on ESPN’s First Take, which is known for its ‘hot takes,’ Tebow released one that appears to have been one of the most controversial of all, saying that paying college athletes would “change what’s special about college football.”

“I know we live in a selfish culture where it’s all about us, but we’re just adding and piling it on to that, where it changes what’s special about college football,” he said Friday. “We turn it into the NFL where who has the most money, that’s where you go.”

He further went on to say, “If I could support my team, support my college, support my university, that’s what it’s all about. But now we’re changing it from ‘us’ ... from being an alumni where I care, which makes college sports special, to then okay it’s not about ‘us,’ it’s not about ‘we.’ It’s just about ‘me.’"

To drive home his point, Tebow reminded viewers on how much money he potentially missed out on due to the rules as they’re currently written. He talked about how much money was made from No. 15 jerseys being sold while he was at Florida — an amount that he never wanted to or did profit from.

Tebow’s statement was in response to a question asked toward him about a bill that was approved by the California State Senate on Wednesday that would allow college athletes to be paid for use of their name, likeness and image. If signed into law by the state’s governor, the Fair Pay to Play Act wouldn’t go into effect until 2023.

These were the reactions that immediately followed:

From Tebow’s ESPN colleagues:

From former players:

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