Sports often provide a backdrop for storybook finishes like nothing else can.
The winning finales of Florida State University football coach Bobby Bowden and University of Florida quarterback Tim Tebow attest to it once again.
Both walked off the field on Saturday as winners – and lasting legends – after their final college games.
Bowden’s Seminoles rallied from behind to help the departing coach go out with his 33rd straight winning season. He did it in Jacksonville with more than 350 adoring former players watching in attendance and against a West Virginia team that helped him get his career rolling as coach.
Players hoisted the coaching icon on their shoulders in walking him off the field.
It was a fitting image for a man who made Florida State a national football power and helped hundreds of college players reach their potential.
It was Bowden’s folksy personality, kind nature and good humor that solidified him as an enduring and positive Florida figure. He never seemed in a hurry or too busy to talk to reporters or his adoring fans, and he was a tireless ambassador for college football itself.
His forced retirement made for an awkward and sometimes emotional road to his departure.
But Bowden left the field for the last time on a high note, and his later years of fewer wins will be overshadowed by his lofty successes of a lifetime.
Tebow also left the college game on Saturday as one of the sport’s most celebrated and adored players ever.
He dazzled college recruiters and fans nationwide as a high school passing legend while playing for Nease High School in St. Johns County.