Tim Tebow’s brief career as a viable NFL quarterback all but ended on the night of Jan. 14, 2012, when he completed just 9 of 26 passes and was sacked five times in the Denver Broncos’ 45-10 AFC divisional playoff loss to the New England Patriots. But as that game was being played, Tebowmania raged on thousands of miles to the south at a charity fundraiser for the Susan G. Komen organization in Palm Beach, Fla., where then-private citizen Donald Trump bid $12,000 for a Broncos helmet signed by Tebow and a Tebow jersey during the event’s live auction.
Trump noted his big score a few days later on Twitter.
That purchase likely would have been a little-remembered side note to Trump’s ascendancy had it not been for The Washington Post’s David Fahrenthold, who in the midst of the 2016 presidential campaign reported that Trump didn’t pay for memorabilia himself but rather with money from the Donald J. Trump Foundation, a nonprofit charity of his own that was “largely stocked with other people’s money,” Fahrenthold wrote.
On Tuesday, the Tebow gear came up again when New York Attorney General Barbara Underwood announced that President Trump had agreed to shut down his foundation and give away its remaining money “amid allegations that he used the foundation for his personal and political benefit,” according to a report by Fahrenthold. The foundation will sell its remaining assets and donate the proceeds, with Underwood seeking more than $2.8 million in restitution. The Tebow memorabilia is included in that lot along with two large portraits of Trump, which he purchased with $30,000 in foundation money.
The combined current value of the three items, which were purchased with $42,000 of foundation money: $975, according to a recent Internal Revenue Service document filed by Trump.
It’s unclear where the helmet resides, however. Trump’s campaign did not respond to inquiries made by Fahrenthold in 2016 about its whereabouts, and it did not appear on a table of other sports helmets in a 2015 Wall Street Journal video tour of Trump’s business office.
The Post scribe said Tuesday that the helmet’s location still is a mystery:
Trump paid for the Tebow merchandise just as its value was about to plummet. After the deflating loss that ended the 2011-12 season, the Broncos signed Peyton Manning to be their quarterback and traded Tebow to the New York Jets, who announced their intention to use him on special teams and as a running quarterback in the then-in-vogue wildcat formation. Tebow would throw only eight passes with the Jets, who cut him after the season, and training-camp tryouts with the Patriots and Philadelphia Eagles led to a lot of breathless speculation but no roster spot.
Nevertheless, Trump continued to lobby for Tebow on social media:
Trump the presidential candidate would make one more overture toward Tebow in July 2016, not long after Fahrenthold wrote his story about the ill-gotten football memorabilia. Seeking a popular personality with a fervent evangelical following — Tebow is a devout Christian and never has been shy about it — Trump’s team invited Tebow to speak at the Republican National Convention, the New York Times reported at the time. He declined, saying his commitment to his own charitable foundation took precedence over politics.
“It’s amazing how fast rumors fly,” Tebow said in an Instagram video. “And that’s exactly what it is. A rumor.”
His pro football dreams stymied despite numerous efforts and Trump’s lobbying, Tebow joined the SEC Network as a college football analyst and began an attempt at a professional baseball career, last year making the Eastern League All-Star Game as a member of the Class AA Binghamton Rumble Ponies.
Signed Tebow football helmets, most of them commemorating his time at the University of Florida, are going for mid-three-figures on eBay.
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