Two weeks ago, word leaked out that Tim Tebow was set to make a return to the NFL, and would be signing a contract with the Jacksonville Jaguars — the worst team in the NFL in 2020-21.
Tebow will be 34 years old in August, and the last time he was active on an NFL roster was in the 2012 season. He signed with the New England Patriots prior to the 2013 season, but was cut during training camp and was not picked up by another NFL team.
He worked as a college football broadcaster during the 2013 season while continuing to look for an opportunity as a quarterback in the NFL. He signed a contract with the Philadelphia Eagles ahead of the 2015 season, but after playing in all four preseason games, he was again cut and did not make the regular-season roster.
Tebow next gave professional baseball a shot, spending some time in the New York Mets organization, making it as far as Triple-A, and participating in the Mets Major League Spring Training Camp in 2019 and 2020, before jointly announcing with the Mets that he was retiring from professional baseball in January 2021.
Yesterday, he officially signed his contract with Jacksonville as a tight end — a non-guaranteed deal for the league minimum salary. That is where the comparisons to the non-career of Colin Kaepernick end. Kaepernick has resisted any suggestion that he’s not good enough to be an NFL quarterback, and that forms part of the public stance by him and his supporters that it is racism and his activism that has kept him out of the NFL. Kaepernick has always claimed that he’s good enough to be a starting quarterback in the NFL, and any salary offer to him must be in line with what starting NFL quarterbacks are paid.
Tebow’s signing has many indications that it is more of a publicity stunt than a true effort to find a hidden gem to play tight end. Tebow played college football at the University of Florida in Gainesville, only 80 miles away. Tebow is reuniting with his college coach and long-time friend and mentor, Urban Meyer who coached him at Florida.
But Tebow has always been a remarkable athlete, and tight end may have been a position he could have played 7 years ago when he was last in the league — if he had been open to the position switch. The NFL has a lot of players in their 30s, and Tebow has a lot less “wear” on his body because he’s been out for so long. He’s certainly a long shot to make the team in the final analysis, but Meyer knows that and thought it was worth bringing him in and having him be part of the locker room environment for now.
Meyer resigned as head coach of Ohio State following the Buckeyes’ appearance in the 2019 Rose Bowl, citing health concerns — a recurring issue during Meyer’s college coaching career.
But the lure of the NFL — and the money paid to NFL head coaches — was too much to resist and Meyer agreed to take over the NFL’s worst franchise in January 2021. Five months later, he’s made the biggest off-season, non-draft move by signing a 33-year-old former player to play a position he’s never played before. He’s also taken the spotlight off the rookie quarterback, just drafted No. 1 overall in the NFL draft, from whom much will be expected this year. Now, the reporters in the Jaguars locker room can spend more time pestering Tebow than Trevor Lawrence.
But just to rub a little salt into the wounds of those who adamantly objected online to the news of Tebow’s signing comes the kicker that the guy is still popular with fans.
For the record, Tebow only officially signed his contract yesterday, so he was not eligible to participate in the players’ share of NFL marketing revenue, and as a result, there wasn’t a jersey for sale. After signing his contract, there now is one available online at the NFL store:
One day back in the NFL and Tim Tebow has the best-selling jersey in the NFL.
The top five items on NFLShop.com are all Tebow’s No. 85 Jaguars jerseys. Tebow signed a one-year contract with the Jaguars on Thursday morning, making his conversion from quarterback to tight end complete.
A little steep for me, especially since I’m a Raiders fan.