(CBS News) Tim Tebow of the New York Jets traveled to enemy territory Sunday, appearing at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego. But his visit was about faith, not football.
Tebow was the featured speaker at a big Father's Day church service, where worshippers came to hear what he had to say about being a role model, a football player, and a Christian, reports Noelle Walker.
Seven months after sending the San Diego Chargers to one of their most crushing defeats of the season, the former Denver Broncos quarterback returned to Qualcomm.
"It feels really good to get applause in this stadium; it's never happened before!" Tebow said.
The service was led by evangelical leader David Jeremiah.
More than 26,000 worshippers, many sporting Tebow's number 15 football jersey, spent the morning tailgating before heading inside the stadium to hear the Jets backup quarterback talk about how his father inspired him to be the greatest football player he possibly could.
"Every time I'd go to practice ... I'd always think about what my dad said to me: Do I really love what I'm doing? Am I passionate about it? And am I willing to sacrifice more than everybody else is willing to sacrifice? Because those three things are really easy to say -- they're very hard to do."
Ever since coming into the spotlight with his signature prayer pose, Tebow's influence as an outspoken Christian athlete has grown exponentially.
"He's a hero or role model I want my kid to see," said Richard Vazquez.
"I think he's a good role model for our students, for our kids," said Claudia Denure. "He's a role model for all of us."
"I love how he's humble," another worshipper said. "I love how he helps other people and his charities, foundation. And he's cute!"
It's a role Tebow has enthusiastically embraced.
"The world looks at me and thinks I'm a football player that's a Christian," Tebow said. "I look at me and think I'm a Christian that happens to play football."
Following the service, Tebow headed back to the Big Apple. The first preseason game is less than two months away.
To see Noelle Walker's report, click on the video in the player above.