Former NFL quarterback Tim Tebow rushed to offer support and comfort to distressed passengers on a Delta Air Lines flight over the weekend when a man onboard experienced a medical emergency.
Passengers of Flight 1772 from Atlanta to Phoenix took to social media to praise Mr. Tebow’s selfless actions and the crew’s professional response when an older passenger reportedly started having heart problems.
“[Tebow] made a stand for God in a difficult situation,” passenger Richard Gotti wrote in a Facebook post Sunday that has now been shared over 9,000 times and confirmed by ABC News’s Jeffrey Cook. “He met with the family as they cried on his shoulder! I watched Tim pray with the entire section of the plane for this man.”
Tebow has never been shy about sharing his Christian convictions, and his public expressions of his faith have been both lauded and criticized in the past.
“Tim Tebow is one of the major venues for this ongoing argument about Christianity in our public life,” Tom Krattenmaker, author of "Onward Christian Athletes: Turning Ballparks into Pulpits and Players into Preachers" told The Christian Science Monitor in 2011.
People of faith see something much bigger than football, as Tebow defines what it means to follow Jesus in a jaded and uncertain modern world.
People tired of pro sports' descent toward criminal behavior, vanity, and self-indulgence see in Tebow an honorable new model for manhood.
And people affronted by public displays of religious fervor see in Tebow a showy type of faith that offends and even perverts scripture,” as G. Jeffrey MacDonald wrote.
But when Tebow joined his fellow passengers in prayer on the Delta flight, he was contributing to a group effort of people pitching in the best way they knew how.
“I watched strangers from all over the world and every ethnicity come to the help of this man for over an hour! Whether it was chest compressions, starting an IV, helping breathe life into this man, or praying everyone helped!” wrote Mr. Gotti on Facebook.
Tebow helped the man’s wife and friend retrieve their luggage and waited with them at the hospital as the man received medical attention, as People Magazine reported. The man later reportedly died in the hospital.
A Delta spokesman confirmed to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that a medical emergency had been declared on the flight, though the airlines doesn’t release information about who is on flights.
"We can't say enough about the Delta professionals who care for our customers every day and we are grateful to our customers who are so often quick to extend kindness and care to one another," Delta spokesman Brian Kruse said.
Tebow hasn’t commented on the incident publicly yet, but he spoke with People in February about prayerfully helping others, saying, "Our purpose is to bring faith, hope and love to those in their darkest hour of need. And those people are everywhere. You just have to open your eyes to see them."