JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Now that the worst-kept secret in town is finally official, let’s dive in to this Tim Tebow conversation.
Will he make the team as a tight end? Is this embarrassing the Jaguars? Are they doing it to sell tickets and apparel? Is it a total gimmick?
Pump the brakes on the outrage and look at the facts.
Tebow is the sixth tight end on the Jaguars roster. Is he better than any of the five others, Tyler Davis, Ben Ellefson, Luke Farrell, Chris Manhertz and James O’Shaughnessey? How many of those tight ends have you heard of? Four of those guys have combined for all of four receiving touchdowns across 13 combined NFL seasons. Farrell is a rookie.
Does Tebow have more potential than any of those players?
At that position, the bar couldn’t be much lower. That’s why Tebow has a pulse to get a legitimate look. This group isn’t exactly Travis Kelce, Rob Gronkowski and Hunter Henry. The tight end room makes the Jaguars quarterback situation last year like Elway, Marino and Manning.
If Urban Meyer was bringing Tebow in as a quarterback, that would be a gimmick.
For all of his college accomplishments and winning a thrilling playoff game with the Broncos, Tebow was not a good NFL quarterback. For those who say he got a raw deal in Denver, Tebow had chances with the Jets, Eagles and Patriots after that.
It’s not a ploy to sell tickets or jerseys. Do you think the Jaguars, with Meyer and Trevor Lawrence, need help with that?
Meyer isn’t bringing Tebow in as a quarterback. He’s bringing in a player who he respects as a competitor at a position that couldn’t be more starved for talent.
The NFL is obviously far different than any other sport, but I don’t think it’s unrealistic to say that it’s a low-risk move for Meyer and the Jaguars. Meyer knows Tebow better than anyone in the business. Connections mean something. And Tebow is at his best when he’s motivated.
Remember the baseball experiment?
Tebow was removed from baseball for a period of 4,142 calendar days, almost 11 ½ years.
That spans his last competitive high school game during his junior season at Nease on May 27, 2005 (a groundout in a 2-1 state semifinal loss to Winter Haven) until his first instructional game at-bat with Port St. Lucie on Sept. 28, 2016 (a home run).
There were many who said that Tebow was bound to fail and couldn’t cut it in getting back to baseball after such a gap. No doubt Tebow relished the challenge.
While Tebow never reached the big leagues and retired earlier this year, he did last four seasons in professional baseball, hitting .222, driving in 109 runs and belting 18 homers. He never made it higher than Triple-A, but Tebow did make it one step below Major League Baseball. That has to be considered a mild success.
So, can Tebow jump back into football and do it at a position that he has never played outside of a few snaps during his freshman year at Trinity Christian? Probably not.
He’ll be 34 this year. Forget the fact that Tebow has not played football in years. He has not played the position at a high level of football, ever. Can he catch? Can he block? This isn’t a script for the movie, “Invincible.” This isn’t minor league baseball where the gap in talent level across organizations can be substantial.
Tebow’s last competitive game in the NFL was Dec. 30, 2012. He was in on one play for the Jets in that game. The Jaguars’ preseason opener will be sometime in mid-August, meaning the gap between Tebow’s last regular season game in the NFL and his return will be close to 8 ½ years.
If Tebow makes it on to the Jaguars 53-man roster, that’s significant. That would be quite the comeback story. If he doesn’t, what have the Jaguars really lost?