Tim Tebow to the Jacksonville Jaguars: Welcome back to Tebowmania
By Martin Rogers
FOX Sports Columnist
Based off the statistics, Tim Tebow as a quarterback was about a third of a Christian Ponder, a quarter of a Kyle Boller and a fifth of a Tim Couch.
Based off the ability to walk into a random room and get every head turning, cause every phone to be whipped out of pockets for photos and selfies and the general level of excitement to go through the roof, he’s borderline Tom Brady.
Tebowmania isn’t quite so manic these days, or at least it wasn’t until reports of him joining the Jacksonville Jaguars surfaced on Monday. It looks like Tebow’s back, for who knows how long, but take this to the bank, it’s going to generate an absolute ton of attention while it’s a thing.
Six years after his National Football League career flamed out and he headed off into his next stage that involved busying himself with television work, minor league baseball and just being Tim Tebow, the 33-year-old seems poised to sign a one-year contract to hang out in Northern Florida once more.
There’s quite a bit to unpack here but rest assured every single bit of it will create a flurry of excitement among his devoted followers, and a generous level of intrigue from everyone else.
For Tebow is a guy whose every move seems like something out of a script. His detractors, of whom there are many, will say that’s by design, claiming he’s masterful at maximizing the hype and not much else.
"Tim Tebow hasn’t played in years and he’s going to switch positions, a position he has never played, and he gets an opportunity," Hall of Famer Shannon Sharpe said while co-hosting FS1’s "Undisputed." "We know what this is. Tim Tebow is addicted to fame. Tim Tebow cannot let it go.
"He’s the same guy he was in Denver. He loves the attention, he craves the fame, he craves the limelight. And here we are again."
Tebow’s supporters, of whom there are perhaps even more, will tell you Tebow just lives his life in the pursuit of achievement and is dedicated to being the best athlete he can be. They’ll say the attention, from a combination of his iconic college football career and by being a religious role model, is a simple by-product over which he has little control.
A lot has happened since Tebow got drafted by the Denver Broncos in 2010, led the team to a dramatic playoff victory against the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2011, got traded to the New York Jets in 2012 and thereafter bounced around unsuccessfully.
He isn’t doing the QB thing anymore. Instead, he’s going to try to stick with the Jaguars playing tight end. Jacksonville, you might be aware, is all set under center, having just acquired the most sought-after QB draftee of recent years in No. 1 pick Trevor Lawrence.
There is enough juiciness to the Tebow-to-Jacksonville narrative to keep everyone interested. He is linking back up with his college coach Urban Meyer, who, frankly, is probably the only guy in the NFL who would’ve given him a shot. He’s doing it just up the road from Gainesville, where he won two national titles. He’s doing it in a spot where there was already going to be a bunch of attention, which is where this actually could have some real value.
"Despite all the clamoring from those who suggest that Tebow is some kind of gilded sports tourist or delusional retiree who can’t admit his glory days are behind him, there is absolutely no downside to the Jaguars signing him and letting him bound about during voluntary workouts," wrote Sports Illustrated’s Conor Orr. "It may even be a tremendous advantage."
Only yesterday, I wrote about the pressure facing each of the five quarterbacks drafted in the first round and how there was nearly no way to effectively escape it. Scratch that … Lawrence may have just gotten some welcome relief.
Coming off a 1-15 season that wrapped up a 44-win decade, there is only so much bandwidth Jacksonville can take up in advance of next season, even with Meyer and Lawrence having come in. Until now, Lawrence was dominating the spotlight, already being followed around town by the Floridian paparazzi.
Tebow’s primary value now is to do what he has always done best. Dominate the headlines. Be the biggest story on the team, even if you’re not the best player. Spoiler alert: he’s definitely not going to be the Jaguars’ best player. The odds against him making the team and playing a single snap are astronomical.
"Tebow is a stopgap, a curiosity item, an aging veteran gamble," Yahoo Sports’ Dan Wetzel wrote. "He is an expression of loyalty from Meyer. He creates a sensation wherever he goes. For Meyer and Lawrence, that’s probably a good thing."
While everyone gets excited by all this, we must also remember where we are at. It is May. More than 2,800 players are currently "on" NFL teams. Around 40% of them won’t be once rosters are trimmed to manageable levels in early September.
It is asking a lot to expect Tebow to show enough to still be around by then. Chris Manhertz, James O’Shaughnessy, Ben Ellefson, Tyler Davis and Luke Farrell might not be household names, but they are real tight ends who have played the position for years.
Lawrence-to-Tebow becoming a successor to the Brady-Gronk bromance is monumentally improbable.
Yet if Tebow can, as he surely will, soak up some of the glare ahead of the new campaign, allow his QB some respite from the breathless intensity and give a little sparkle to a franchise that needs it, then it won’t have been a wasted exercise.
Martin Rogers is a columnist for FOX Sports and the author of the FOX Sports Insider Newsletter. You can subscribe to the newsletter here.