Upfront: Leave your politics at the door. We aren’t talking about anyone’s politics here. You shouldn’t either.
Today, the Jacksonville Jaguars have officially revealed that they are signing Tim Tebow, former Broncos’ and Jets’ quarterback, to a one-year deal as a tight end.
Tebow initially entered the NFL after winning two national championships with the University of Florida in 2006 and 2008 under Jacksonville’s new head coach Urban Meyer. He has a reputation for being unsuccessful in the NFL, despite helping the Denver Broncos win the AFC West divisional title in 2011, and leading them to the divisional round of the playoffs. He only actually started a total of 14 games in his three years with the NFL, in which he went 8-6, and led four fourth-quarter comebacks.
Since departing with the Jets after the 2012 season, he bounced around to different rosters before leaving the NFL altogether and going into baseball and sports analysis. He has kept in shape, stayed up to date with the sport, and seems ready to try his hand at football one more time.
His switch to a tight end makes sense. He is an athletic guy with great hands and a quarterback’s mind for routes and coverage. He is 6’3″, has right under 32 inches of arm’s length, and a pretty decent hand size at about 10 inches across. Further, if his combine workouts are still reliable (it has been ten years, so he definitely will have slowed down a bit, but not much) he has great acceleration and controls his hips well, which will aid him in route running.
Further, signing with Jacksonville makes a ton of sense too. He spent his entire college career with Urban Meyer in Florida. He lives next door to the Urban Meyer as well, not that far from the Jaguars facility.
No matter what you think, the Jaguars are also making a smart decision signing Tebow. He has never played a snap at tight end, so he is going to be cheap, but he has the measurables to be a talented tight end. He and Trevor Lawrence are very similar: devout Christian men, legendary college careers, unbelievable expectations despite underwhelming rosters around them.
He will be a great mentor to the 2021 first-round pick, and the fact that he also knows Meyer’s playbook and coaching style is only the icing on the cake. Plus, if Lawrence gets hurt and the Jaguars need a quarterback who knows the system, Tebow can easily provide a temporary fill-in.
This is a low-cost investment for the Jaguars that has the potential to be game-changing for the team. There is nothing shady here, nothing risked here, and should, honestly, have been seen as a safe, non-story.
But you already know that is not how things turned out.
The moment the news broke of Tebow’s signing, Twitter and news sites were alight with criticisms and complaints about the situation. In case you think I am exaggerating or over-reacting, every word in this sentence is another negative article from a different site. Those articles do not include the millions of tweets circulating right now or those hundreds of annoyingly corporate mass Instagram stories that people overshare. I am sure ESPN has also not stopped talking about it, but the moment this news broke I made sure to turn that off.
The anti-Tebow sentiment does not make any sense, and that is because there is not a good reason for it.
Any of those articles I linked or any high-profile tweets you are going to see are complaining about this signing, not because they do not think he can fill the position. No one is angry that Urban Meyer is bringing in the crown jewel of his college coaching career. No one is angry that Tebow has worked hard to finally get one last chance in the NFL.
However, the anti-Tebow sentiment has been non-stop, and that is because he is not Colin Kaepernick.
There seems to be this mental connection made by the general public between Tim Tebow working hard, changing his position, and fighting hard to come back into the NFL for his college head coach and Colin Kaepernick not being signed. Why? Well, they both used to play quarterback?
The main argument for people making this connection is that Tim Tebow was considered a distraction and that is why he did not make it in the NFL, which is part of the same reason Kaepernick was not brought onto another team. The reality is that that is very untrue. Tebow did not make it in the NFL because his style of quarterbacking was not professionally viable. He succeeded in college because Urban Meyer knew how to use him for the gadget player he really was.
Tim Tebow is very similar to Taysom Hill in a ton of ways: extremely athletic, great playmaking potential, extremely motivated, unable to effectively play quarterback. The major differences between the two really are just Urban Meyer and Hill is doing Tebow’s path backward.
Kaepernick was cut for a few reasons, but if we can all be honest and transparent here, it largely had to do with his protest and the media storm that came with it. You can personally agree or disagree with his protest or the following situation, but that is what happened.
He had positive traits as a quarterback, beat out Alex Smith for the starting position with the 49ers, and helped lead the team to two conference championships and a Super Bowl. Sure, he had some bad seasons, but that was largely due to the roster falling apart around him (Anquan Boldin left, Frank Gore aged and left).
The two players and their situations could not be more different, but that is not going to stop Twitter users from making the Tebow’s signing about Kaepernick.
Complaining about the Kaepernick situation every single time that another quarterback gets signed is nonsensical anyways, but it is especially stupid when that quarterback had to completely change their position, take a huge pay cut, go play for their college coach, and may still not make the final roster. It does not help anyone; it does not help your cause, and it is unnecessarily hostile.
It is not Tim Tebow’s fault that Kaepernick is unsigned. He is not getting another shot at quarterback. It is okay to think that Kaepernick deserves to have gotten another shot at playing quarterback in the NFL and also that it is okay for Tim Tebow to take a shot at playing tight end in the league. When you act like it is exclusively one or the other, you are part of the problem and are just showing your lack of critical thinking skills.
I for one, am rooting for Tim Tebow and hope that he helps make Trevor Lawrence and the Jacksonville Jaguars better.