Why the signing of Tim Tebow as a tight end was a smart move by the Jacksonville Jaguars
By: Michael Hull
Will Tebow make the final 53-man roster for the Jaguars? Probably not. That is by no means the only measure of a successful signing, however, and the addition of the Heisman-winning quarterback as a tight end still works for Duval for a number of reasons.
Before anything else on the field, Tebow is a marketing team’s dream. The former Gator draws a crowd wherever he goes and with whatever he does. The allure of Tebow intoxicates national media, as proven by literally every single news outlet over the past few weeks.
Jacksonville didn’t hesitate to reap the benefits of the signing. The Jaguars team store placed his official jersey front and center on its website, right alongside first-round picks Trevor Lawrence and Travis Etienne. According to Adam Schefter, the five highest-selling items on NFLshop.com Friday were all Tebow related.
Tebow brings an audience. Love him or hate him, everyone tunes in to watch the tight end.
Look no further than the numbers from his time in minor-league baseball. Attendance rose a staggering 40% at Columbia Fireflies’ games when Tebow was stationed at the Mets’ Low-A affiliate, according to the Charleston Post and Courier. When he went to the St. Lucie Mets, their attendance skyrocketed and drew in an extra 2,200 fans PER GAME, according to Baseball America.
The Jaguars are notorious for lack of attendance. They haven’t ranked higher than 17th in attendance since 2006. From tarps on seats to never-ending jokes, Jacksonville receives very little national attention. In 2018, the Jaguars played in just one nationally-televised primetime game despite making the AFC Championship game the year prior. With Tebow added to a star-studded group that includes Lawrence and Urban Meyer, the national spotlight will finally shine brightly on Duval County.
Ok, great, so it’s a publicity stunt. To quote Lee Corso, not so fast, my friend! Tebow is an athletic freak. Sports Illustrated writer Zach Goodall posted Tebow’s measurements against other tight ends from his 2010 draft class, which included future Hall-of-Famer Rob Gronkowski and Pro Bowler Jimmy Graham. Tebow’s 10-yard split, vertical jump and 3-cone drill all ranked in the 91st percentile or above.
Tebow’s grind compliments his raw athletic skill, and no one, even his biggest haters, questions his work ethic. On the Cris Collinsworth Podcast, Meyer called him “the most competitive maniac you’re ever going to talk to.”
The looming question which remains is how Tebow will fit into the locker room. If you ask any of his minor-league teammates, such as current Met and former Gator Peter Alonso, he will fit in just fine.
“I didn’t think he had that rockstar mentality,” Alonso said in an interview with northjersey.com. “He rode the bus like the rest of us. He wasn’t chartering planes across the state or anything. Being Tim Tebow, he’s probably the most famous minor league baseball player but he was like a normal teammate.”
He’s a great athlete, he draws a crowd and he won’t be a distraction in the locker room. This move is a great gamble by Jacksonville. Best-case scenario, Tebow becomes the starting tight end for a team which hasn’t had solid production from the position in years. Worst-case scenario, he’s cut before the season, and the Jaguars made some easy cash. It's a low-risk, high-reward move and a fun story for a team who lacked relevance since it entered the league.
The Jaguars should’ve passed on signing Tebow
By Zachary Huber
The Jacksonville Jaguars should’ve signed the former quarterback a little less than a decade ago to play the position he starred in at Florida.
The Jaguars were pitiful from 2010 to 2016. They never won more than eight games, a 2010 season in which they still missed the playoffs. Jacksonville fans wince in sadness and shame when they look back on this period in franchise history.
The teal-colored fans starved for a hero, a local legend they could cling to. If Jacksonville signed or drafted Tebow back then, it would’ve sold out games and rejuvenated the fan base.
Tebow’s former head coach at UF and current Jacksonville coach, Urban Meyer, made a mistake when he signed the former signal caller. Players and coaches within his organization have already shared concerns.
NFL Network’s Ian Rapport originally reported the Jaguars planned to sign Tebow on May 10, but then the franchise faced backlash from some of the players on the team, coaches and the league. ESPN’s Jeff Darlington reported that not everyone in the Jaguars organization was thrilled about the decision to sign Tebow over an unsigned tight end who played more recently.
Meyer and the franchise took some time to consider the decision and officially signed him May 20.
I don’t know what transpired in the meeting between Meyer, the coaching staff and the players, but it’s critical for a first-year head coach to build trust and respect with the new team. Meyer’s decision to bring in Tebow, who most likely will not make the 53-man roster, could jeopardize his players’ faith in him and spell doom for his tenure in Jacksonville.
I also do not believe this transaction was more than a way to generate excitement and enthusiasm for Jaguars fans, which isn’t needed because they just drafted former Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence with the No. 1 pick in the 2021 NFL Draft. They still need a more formidable tight end in the passing game, and Tebow isn’t the answer.
Contact Michael Hull at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @Michael_Hull33
Contact Zachary Huber at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter @zacharyahuber.
Michael Hull is a third-year journalism major with a specialization in sports & media. He has a minor in business and leadership and is a struggling Jacksonville Jaguars fan.