The former NFL star - and current baseball player - opens up about his struggles in professional football

By Steve Helling
October 25, 2016 10:23 PM
Bryan Soderlind

Tim Tebow has had his share of disappointments.

During his brief NFL career, he played for four different teams. He showed promise with the Denver Broncos, even winning a playoff game. But he was traded to the New York Jets — a move that he would later say made him feel “betrayed.” He didn’t mesh with the new team, and was let go after a season. Short stints with the New England Patriots and Philadelphia Eagles followed, but he never gained traction in his football career.

A devoted Christian, Tebow made gracious public statements about his setbacks, but wrestled with his personal doubts and frustration. He was hurt and embarrassed.

Tebow, 29, is opening up about his struggles in a new memoir, Shaken, which was released on Tuesday. In the book, he talks about the questions that arose when his dreams were shattered.

“Everyone has setbacks, and everyone has their dreams crushed at some point,” Tebow tells PEOPLE. “For me, it was my football career. For other people, it’s a marriage falling apart, or a health issue. You can’t live your life without having bad things happen.”

“It really hurt to be cut from football. But you have to ask: what’s the lesson I’m supposed to learn from this? What does God want me to do from here? That’s how you keep from getting bitter.”

In Shaken, Tebow doesn’t sugarcoat his disappointment as he talks about being blindsided by coaches who cut him from their teams. He opens up about the negative media and criticism he has received.

RELATED VIDEO: Tim Tebow helps fan breathe after seizure

“You’ll never silence the critics,” he writes. “There will always be people in your life who will underestimate your potential, say that you’ll never reach your dream or make that goal, or try to hold you back in some way. What God knows about us is more important than what others think.”

A New Direction

Tebow found a second career as a sports analyst for the SEC Network. For a while, it looked like he would leave professional sports behind. But earlier this year, he announced that he’d try his hand at baseball – a sport he hadn’t played competitively since high school.

He signed a minor league contract with the New York Mets. He started off with a bang, hitting a home run on his very first pitch. But he’s not immune to dry spells: he had a batting slump earlier this month.

Still, Tebow says that he’s learning lessons on the baseball diamond. “I decided I wanted to persue what I was passionate about,” he tells PEOPLE. “I don’t want to do what other people wanted me to do, or what was going to be easier. I want to do things that I’m passionate about.”

I want to do something that I can look back on in 20 or 30 years and say, ‘I’m glad I did that because I gave it all I have. I lived a life that was abundant and I tried and went after things. I didn’t not do things because I was afraid of the results.'”

So what’s the message from Tebow’s baseball career? “It’s easy to be afraid,” he says. “It’s easy to be scared of trying something that has a high likelihood of not succeeding by a lot of people’s standards. But at the same time, why is that a reason not to do it? If you’re really passionate about something, and you believe in yourself, you should go after it and try it. You should live life with abandon.”

Shaken is on sale now.