Now, when you put it like that, it sounds bad. Real bad. Don't worry, Tebowheads; this wasn't a case of Grand Theft Auto IV come to life. And Tebow wasn't trying to up his draft stock by adding a felony to his jacket. No, this was purely a case of mistaken identity, with a dash of what-the-hell-was-Waltrip-thinking thrown in for extra spice.
The Sporting Blog brings us the story, via the Orlando Sentinel, of how the former Daytona 500 champion and the former all-everything Gator QB crossed paths. The mystery began Monday with a mysterious tweet from Waltrip that sounded like the setup to a joke:
@AllWaltrip:Tim Tebow took my car last night , problem is I didn't tell him he could , he took it by mistake , its 3 o'clock and he hasn't returned it !
Here's how it went down. Waltrip had left his black Lexus SUV parked at a private Nashville airport while covering last weekend's race in Las Vegas for Fox. Waltrip, apparently unfamiliar with the concept that someone might actually steal his car -- carjackings are rare on NASCAR tracks -- actually left his key in the car and left the doors unlocked.
Enter Tebow, his brother, one of his agents and the head of a Nashville-area training facility, D1 Sports. On Sunday night, Tebow and his associates were returning from the NFL combine. D1 CEO Will Bartholomew was told to drive Tebow's agent's car -- a black Mercedes -- back to D1's facility while Tebow and the rest of the crew rode in another car. Well, it was dark, the Mercedes just happened to be parked next to Waltrip's Lexus, one thing led to another, and there was no car when Waltrip got back to the airport later Sunday evening.
Waltrip asked the airport personnel what had happened, and this was their account:
“They turned to me and said, ‘Tim Tebow has your car,’” Waltrip said in a telephone interview. “I said, ‘What is he doing with my car? I didn’t tell him he could take my car.’ The guys said, ‘We thought you told him he could drive your car.’ I know the guy, but I’ve never met the man. I didn’t tell him he could take my car.”
Waltrip, ever the prankster, briefly considered reporting the car stolen just to see the look on Tebow's face, but his wife wisely talked him out of that one. (It's worth noting: it appears that at no time was Tebow ever in the car.)
The lesson Waltrip learned? "Don’t leave your car unlocked. Because you never know what celebrity might take it."
And the lesson Tebow learned? When you're in the NFL, your friends are going to cause you all kinds of headaches. Best get used to it now, Tim.
Darrell Waltrip and the Accidental Saga of Grand Theft Tebow [The Sporting Blog]
Tim Tebow + Darrell Waltrip: The Great Car Caper [Orlando Sentinel]
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- Tim Tebow