The Tim Tebow move is being criticized on social media as experts claim that Tebow is too old to play in the NFL. With HBO in town for Hard Knocks, John Vogel argues that the Jaguars have pulled off a brilliant move.
People aren’t really looking at the Jacksonville Jaguars signing of tight end Tim Tebow in a positive light on social media. This much was hinted at when it was announced he had performed a workout before the NFL Draft at tight end. Social media exploded as people claimed it was another instance of new head coach Urban Meyer’s “nepotism.”
Is this an instance of nepotism? Definitely, if Urban Meyer wasn’t a head coach in the league right now, there’s no way Tebow would have this opportunity in front of him. The real question that the media should be asking is this pure nepotism? The answer to that question is a pure no.
The Jaguars are coming off of one of their worst seasons in franchise history. It led to complete cleaning of the house by Shad Khan, who genuinely seems like he wants to have a winning franchise. College football legend Urban Meyer was hired out of his second retirement to coach the team. As I wrote about earlier this week, Meyer’s every move has been criticized by the media along the way.
HBO is filming this season of Hard Knocks in Jacksonville
Every hire in Jacksonville has amounted to huge public attention this year. Since the Jaguars locked in the first overall pick, it’s been known that former Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence would be in Jacksonville. With the first overall pick comes tremendous pressure. Granted, Lawrence has been in the spotlight most of his life. He was the highest-rated prospect exiting high school in 2018. He won a National Championship as a true freshman at Clemson.
Remember that the NFL’s hit HBO show, Hard Knocks, which documents the behind-the-scenes of an NFL training camp every year, is in Jacksonville. How could they not be? A college legend who’s never headed an NFL team takes over with the first overall pick. Hard Knocks brings more pressure to young players than people care to admit.
Remember Jared Goff being relentlessly teased on social media for not knowing where the sun rose from? Baker Mayfield’s conversations with head coach Hue Jackson? NFL fans remember Hard Knocks every year. Goff is still made fun of. Mayfield still has that reputation of being uncoachable. The show puts tremendous pressure on high-profile players.
Tim Tebow relieves much of that pressure
Like him or not, Tim Tebow is a well-known celebrity for his overwhelming Christian presence. As a Heisman Trophy winner and National Champion under Meyer at Florida, Tebow has an occult-like following who adore him. Anywhere he goes, he takes the spotlight with him.
Tebow’s spotlight is both good and bad. Most of the media attacks him relentlessly for his Christian values and claims it to be disingenuous. His fans argue back on social media. The people who work with him either love him or hate him. There is no in-between for Tebow, who is unapologetically himself at all times.
When the HBO cameras start rolling, the sole focus will not be on Lawrence during this season of the show. In fact, Lawrence may take a back seat with all of the action around him. Between Meyer and Tebow, who have a history together, there are many different focal points to put the cameras on.
Every season, HBO focuses on a couple of longshots that make fan favorites with their fascinating stories leading to their attempt to make an NFL team. This year, it’s obvious that one of those focal points will be Tebow. He’s never played the tight end position before and will be one of the longshots with a more than fascinating story.
Lastly, HBO traditionally does not draw much of a Christian audience to their platform. Oftentimes denounced by Christian leaders for their unfiltered approach to their media, HBO mainly targets a mainstream audience. The Jaguars did HBO a solid adding Tebow and will draw many of his devout fans to watch the show this season.
Trevor Lawrence and Tim Tebow are much alike
Much like Tebow, Lawrence is very much open about his Christian faith. Granted, you won’t find Lawrence kneeling on the sidelines praying before, during, or after games. However, a quick review of Lawrence’s social media shows that he is open and honest about his Christian beliefs. Recently, Lawrence spoke out against the Little Nas X “Satan shoes” that featured a vial of human blood in the soles.
Tim Tebow does not offer a threat to Lawrence. He wouldn’t offer much of one if he were a quarterback, but there is no reason for hostility. Chances are, Lawrence has much respect for Tebow, although he has never commented. The two will work together well, in a limited or full capacity.
People don’t realize how much pressure is usually on a franchise quarterback when he’s selected with the first overall pick. Fans want to see him ball out immediately. Ownership gets pushed by the media to see instant results. It’s become a game NFL franchises have learned to navigate around.
Jersey and ticket sales will skyrocket
Jacksonville is a homecoming for Tebow, a rock star in Florida, for his performance with the Florida Gators. As soon as Tebow had officially signed his contract with the Jaguars, his jersey was available on the Jaguars’ official website. The Jacksonville Jaguars knew exactly what they were doing by tapping into a huge market.
Tebow’s fan base has always put up the money to back his career up. Tebow’s last NFL stint, a preseason appearance with the Philadelphia Eagles, saw his jersey debut at 16th in the league after his signing. When Tebow scored a touchdown in the fourth quarter of a blowout preseason game, Lincoln Financial Stadium erupted with devout Tebow fans who purchased tickets to the game. “How often have you heard fans this loud in the fourth quarter of a preseason game?” the announcer, Scott Graham, asked Mike Mayock calling the game in the booth.
Eric Ebron, a current Pittsburgh Steelers tight end, asked if they invited Tebow to the tight end summit in Nashville that George Kittle, Greg Olsen, and Travis Kelce have put together. Like it or not, Tebow has some respect in NFL circles.
People always said they wished Tebow would switch positions
The man that practically raised me was a walk-on to Auburn University. His main focus in life, though, was serving God, and rather than making a career out of football, he went out and became a missionary. He has always helped and pushed me to get to where I want to be in the football industry with his insightful wisdom and practical thinking.
I remember a conversation we were having about Tebow several years ago about why he wasn’t in the league anymore. “I don’t know why he won’t switch positions right now,” he told me. “He’s athletic. He could be a great tight end.” I agreed with him. “He’ll never do it, though,” I said, “I don’t know if it’s a pride issue or lack of opportunity.”
Social media oftentimes echoed this sentiment over the years. Now, eight years removed from a meaningful NFL snap, he’s finally doing it, and people are angry about it. Why? Is it because of Urban Meyer? Is it over nepotism?
Tebow spoke about getting the opportunity to pursue professional baseball. “Always pursue your dreams,” he said. “You never know where it will take you.” Tebow’s return to the NFL is an example of that. No doubt he’s put in work to make it happen. It’s all he’s ever done his entire life.
Whether it works on the field or not, it’s a brilliant football business move
If you thought that your franchise was anything more than entertainment, you don’t understand the sports business. Teams sell tickets by keeping things interesting. The Jaguars are probably not looking to contend for a Super Bowl title this season due to the nature of stripping and rebuilding a franchise. They gained valuable pieces, but it’s part of the rebuilding effort.
Tebow inked a one-year deal with no promise of making the roster. He will still rank in the top twenty of jerseys being sold in the NFL. The Jaguars will rank among the top in preseason ticket sales. Hard Knocks will see more traffic than HBO has seen in recent memory. Pressure will be layered on Tebow by NFL and local media, not Trevor Lawrence. Meyer will continue to take pressure for his roster moves.
Here’s the thing. This signing has absolutely no risk to it. If he doesn’t make the final roster, he most likely won’t; Coach Meyer can get in front of a mic and say, “Timmy gave it his all, but it wasn’t enough. We thank him for his contributions to the team.” There is no cap penalty. No one can logically say, “Tebow is blackballed for his faith.” Lawrence settles into his role as the starting quarterback and the Jacksonville franchise’s face without a summer of pressure.
However, in the slight chance that Tebow does work out as a tight end and can play the position, you have the most high-profile backup tight end on your roster that ended up being a risk well taken. No risk and high reward. This is a brilliant business move by the Jaguars, and I can’t believe more people don’t recognize this.