ATLANTA — Tim Tebow has his next football job — talking about the sport on TV.
The Heisman Trophy winner has been hired as a college football analyst for the new SEC Network in a return to his Florida glory days, but he still hopes to play quarterback in the NFL.
Tebow will appear on “SEC Nation,” a pregame show that will travel to a different campus each week after the channel launches in August. The multiyear deal “will not preclude him from continuing to pursue playing opportunities in the NFL,” ESPN, which runs the network, said in a statement Monday.
Tebow did not play in the league in 2013 after he was cut by the Patriots in August. In the span of just over one season, he went from a national sensation who led the Denver Broncos to the playoffs, to a backup, to out of the NFL.
“While I continue to pursue my dream of playing quarterback in the NFL, this is an amazing opportunity to be part of the unparalleled passion of college football and the SEC,” Tebow said in a statement released by ESPN.
ESPN senior vice president Justin Connolly called Tebow an “SEC icon with a national fan base and broad appeal.”
Tebow will make his ESPN debut during pregame coverage of the BCS championship Jan. 6.
After winning the 2007 Heisman and two national championships for the Gators in the SEC, Tebow became one of the biggest stories in the NFL in his second season. He went 7-1 in his first eight starts in 2011 then threw an 80-yard touchdown pass on the first play of overtime to give the Broncos a 29-23 playoff win over the Pittsburgh Steelers.
But he was still dogged by doubts about his passing ability, and Denver traded him that offseason to the New York Jets after acquiring Peyton Manning.
He languished on the bench while coach Rex Ryan ignored fans’ calls for Tebow to replace a struggling Mark Sanchez. Tebow threw just eight passes, ran only 32 times and was cut last April 29.
For six weeks no team wanted him until the Patriots signed him to a low-risk, two-year contract with no guaranteed money.