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ESPN to feature Tebow's tribute to Taylor Haugen


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Taylor Haugen was a passionate Florida fan who dreamed of one day becoming a Gator. In a way, perhaps the most famous Gator of all has made that connection possible.

In what is just the latest example of one young man’s lasting legacy, ESPN television crews were recently on hand in Niceville to shoot a feature linking the Taylor Haugen Foundation — and more specifically the late teenager for which the foundation was started — to Heisman Trophy winning quarterback Tim Tebow, who wears a maroon bracelet on his wrist in memory of Haugen.

Haugen, a wide receiver on the Niceville football team, was 15 years old when he died on Aug. 30, 2008 of complications that arose from a hit he suffered the previous night during the Eagles’ Kickoff Classic at Fort Walton Beach.

The segment, narrated by ESPN correspondent Tom Rinaldi, will air during College GameDay’s lead-up to Saturday’s SEC Championship Game between No.1 Florida and No. 2 Alabama. And while much of the country has been over-saturated in stories regarding the Florida quarterback, Rinaldi said this is a story that demands telling.

“It’s a story of two young men, one whose name is written on a bracelet and another man who wears it,” Rinaldi said when reached by phone on Wednesday. “One of Taylor’s dreams was to be a Gator, and in a sense, he is one now.

“The most celebrated Gator wears the name of a boy he never met and never knew on his arm as a tribute to Taylor’s spirit. We hope as someone sees the story, they see it as a story of a connection between two young men and how Taylor’s life continues to reach people with a message of giving and love.”

The seeds for the segment were first planted when Rinaldi spoke with Tebow while he was recovering from a concussion suffered during Florida’s 41-7 win at Kentucky. Rinaldi asked Tebow about the bracelets on his wrists.

Tebow immediately pointed to a bracelet with the words “Taylor Haugen” and “Don’t Quit … Never Give Up,” Haugen’s personal motto. The bracelet was given to Tebow by Taylor’s parents, Brian and Kathy, during the All Sports Association’s Annual Awards Dinner in February. The Fort Walton Beach-based group honored Tebow as its Wuerffel Trophy winner.

Tebow has yet to take the bracelet off.

“He said when he looks down at the bracelet, it serves as a continual inspiration to him,” Rinaldi said. “And that inspiration is to try to leave a legacy in the shape of the one that Taylor has left. It was not lost on Tim at all that this is a boy whose life ended tragically after 15 years. Tim expressed his desire that with his life, he hoped he could leave a legacy that approached the one left by Taylor.”

Rinaldi and ESPN crews spent a full day with Brian and Kathy Haugen, interviewing the couple for the segment before visiting Niceville High School to speak with head football coach John Hicks, members of the Eagles’ football team and several of Taylor’s closest friends.

While most of the questions were expected, Brian Haugen admitted to being “blindsided” by a few of the inquiries but lauded the crew’s professionalism and genuine interest and care for the individuals involved.

“It helped tremendously that (Rinaldi) handled us with kid gloves,” Haugen said. “He was sensitive. That really helped us, but it was still very difficult and very emotional. There were some tough questions in there.”

Junior backup quarterback Steve Strano was one such friend that spoke with the ESPN crew.

“It’s amazing because you see the kind of impact he had not just on this community after he passed, but now you see a year and a half later, it’s beginning to not just affect the community, the entire county and the state of Florida, but now the nation,” Strano said.

“It’s beyond our scope of reason how T’s legacy has touched the community and beyond and so many other people’s lives,” Brian Haugen said. “It just speaks to the legacy of our son.”

Niceville is our rival school here. I remember the night this happened. He was hit right away trying to cross the goal line in a kick off classic game. His last football moment was almost putting 6 up and helping his squad win.

Edited by Cody #53
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Taylor Haugen was a passionate Florida fan who dreamed of one day becoming a Gator. In a way, perhaps the most famous Gator of all has made that connection possible.

In what is just the latest example of one young man’s lasting legacy, ESPN television crews were recently on hand in Niceville to shoot a feature linking the Taylor Haugen Foundation — and more specifically the late teenager for which the foundation was started — to Heisman Trophy winning quarterback Tim Tebow, who wears a maroon bracelet on his wrist in memory of Haugen.

Haugen, a wide receiver on the Niceville football team, was 15 years old when he died on Aug. 30, 2008 of complications that arose from a hit he suffered the previous night during the Eagles’ Kickoff Classic at Fort Walton Beach.

The segment, narrated by ESPN correspondent Tom Rinaldi, will air during College GameDay’s lead-up to Saturday’s SEC Championship Game between No.1 Florida and No. 2 Alabama. And while much of the country has been over-saturated in stories regarding the Florida quarterback, Rinaldi said this is a story that demands telling.

“It’s a story of two young men, one whose name is written on a bracelet and another man who wears it,” Rinaldi said when reached by phone on Wednesday. “One of Taylor’s dreams was to be a Gator, and in a sense, he is one now.

“The most celebrated Gator wears the name of a boy he never met and never knew on his arm as a tribute to Taylor’s spirit. We hope as someone sees the story, they see it as a story of a connection between two young men and how Taylor’s life continues to reach people with a message of giving and love.”

The seeds for the segment were first planted when Rinaldi spoke with Tebow while he was recovering from a concussion suffered during Florida’s 41-7 win at Kentucky. Rinaldi asked Tebow about the bracelets on his wrists.

Tebow immediately pointed to a bracelet with the words “Taylor Haugen” and “Don’t Quit … Never Give Up,” Haugen’s personal motto. The bracelet was given to Tebow by Taylor’s parents, Brian and Kathy, during the All Sports Association’s Annual Awards Dinner in February. The Fort Walton Beach-based group honored Tebow as its Wuerffel Trophy winner.

Tebow has yet to take the bracelet off.

“He said when he looks down at the bracelet, it serves as a continual inspiration to him,” Rinaldi said. “And that inspiration is to try to leave a legacy in the shape of the one that Taylor has left. It was not lost on Tim at all that this is a boy whose life ended tragically after 15 years. Tim expressed his desire that with his life, he hoped he could leave a legacy that approached the one left by Taylor.”

Rinaldi and ESPN crews spent a full day with Brian and Kathy Haugen, interviewing the couple for the segment before visiting Niceville High School to speak with head football coach John Hicks, members of the Eagles’ football team and several of Taylor’s closest friends.

While most of the questions were expected, Brian Haugen admitted to being “blindsided” by a few of the inquiries but lauded the crew’s professionalism and genuine interest and care for the individuals involved.

“It helped tremendously that (Rinaldi) handled us with kid gloves,” Haugen said. “He was sensitive. That really helped us, but it was still very difficult and very emotional. There were some tough questions in there.”

Junior backup quarterback Steve Strano was one such friend that spoke with the ESPN crew.

“It’s amazing because you see the kind of impact he had not just on this community after he passed, but now you see a year and a half later, it’s beginning to not just affect the community, the entire county and the state of Florida, but now the nation,” Strano said.

“It’s beyond our scope of reason how T’s legacy has touched the community and beyond and so many other people’s lives,” Brian Haugen said. “It just speaks to the legacy of our son.”

Niceville is our rival school here. I remember the night this happened. He was hit right and he crossed the goal line in a kick off classic game. His last football moment was putting 6 up and helping his squad win.

I have always since at least the mid '90s held a hate for Florida football that borders on sick to my stomach. As much as I hated Steve Spurrier with his running up the score in our house and his quick witted quips, I hated Urban Meyer even more because I felt like he is a jerk and a half and his attitude towards us was even worse! (my opinion)

Having said that after seeing the special on Tebow and this special young man all I can say is..."Go Gators!"

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I have always since at least the mid '90s held a hate for Florida football that borders on sick to my stomach. As much as I hated Steve Spurrier with his running up the score in our house and his quick witted quips, I hated Urban Meyer even more because I felt like he is a jerk and a half and his attitude towards us was even worse! (my opinion)

Having said that after seeing the special on Tebow and this special young man all I can say is..."Go Gators!"

Agreed. Tebow has become my favorite player in college football. I'm not even ashamed that he is a Gator.

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For those who missed it, just go to espn.com and click on top videos, you'll see it.

Every time I see something about Tebow it's always something that leaves me saying to myself, "I wish I was half the man he is". I don't know that anyone could ever have a better role model or be a better human being...

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Tebow is a great player but more importantly a great person. Hopefully I get to speak with him before or after the game today. But my hate for the Gators still run deep. B)

I tried all avenues to get a ticket but couldn't get one unfortunately. I thought about going up there and taking a chance that there would be some shortly after kickoff at a price I could afford but would rather watch from home than stand in front of the Dome freezing my giblets off...

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For everyone who continues to complain about his exposure, THIS is why the world loves Tim Tebow. THIS is why the media snuggles tightly against his groinal area, because he deserves it.

Guys like Tebow and Myron Rolle and Mark Richt and Pete Carroll (For what he does OFF the field, because he's kind of a tool when it comes to anything football related) deserve the spotlight. Instead, our tabloid-obsessed, gossip-infused, and drama-craving society would rather thrust guys like Mike Tyson and Michael Vick and Pacman Jones into the limelight.

God forbid the GOOD guys get all the love.

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