Health issues and the desire to spend more time with his family caused Urban Meyer to take a temporary leave of absence from Florida once, after the Gators' 2009 season. Twelve months later, citing the same concerns, Meyer announced his decision to permanently leave the program he led to two national championships — but not before calling and speaking with Tim Tebow.

Three years later, with his NFL career in flux and a television opportunity in play, Tebow called Meyer.

The two spoke often as Tebow waffled between the most difficult decision of his career: Whether to leave football behind — as a quarterback, at least — and join ESPN, which was offering the former Heisman Trophy winner the chance to join its fledgling SEC Network.

Meyer, who spent his one season out of coaching as an ESPN analyst, preached the positives of television. You get to work with people you like, he told Tebow. You get to be around your family. You can do the things that are important to you. More than anything, you can stay with the game — not as a player, not as a coach, but close enough.

"Obviously we both love the game," Tebow told USA TODAY Sports from SEC Network headquarters in Charlotte. "You always want to be a part of it."

His new role in football keeps perhaps the most discussed, scrutinized and nitpicked quarterback of his generation in front of the camera, but from a different perspective: Tebow will move into television as part of the SEC Network, which debuts at 6 p.m. Eastern on Aug. 14. He will be available in more than 90 million homes, thanks to pre-launch agreements with some of the nation's largest cable providers.