Updated: May 23
OK, Tim Tebow has been a Jaguar for over 24 hours and the world did not fall off its axis. Duval County did not break away and go floating out to the Atlantic. The Great Flood of the St. John’s River did not wash way away TIAA Bank Field. There is no plague of locusts in Northeast Florida. And a giant raptor did not bite off Trevor Lawrence’s arm and take it to Tom Brady’s house.
Tim Tebow is a Jacksonville Jaguar and he has lived to tell about it.
As a matter of fact, despite the naysayers and whiner and haters – and even those honest, well-meaning critics who think Urban Meyer has lost his marbles – the popularity of the NFL is soaring to new heights in these parts. There is even a winning feeling about a losing franchise. To quote Sally Field’s speech after winning an Oscar: “This time I feel it. And I can’t deny the fact that you like me. Right now, you like me!”
Suddenly things like Colin Kaepernick’s version of patriotism (or lack of), the criminal behavior of athletes and Bill Belichick’s moral compass are not dominating the talk shows and sports headlines. This story may have been the biggest and best damage control tool of the Roger Goodell era. And whether you like or not, the feel-good Prodigal Son theme plays a part in it.
Coming off one of the darkest periods of American history, there is fresh hope and energy and light. Between the hiring of Urban Meyer, drafting of Lawrence and the flirtatious nature of the Tebow deal, it has shoved the Jaguars to the front of the relevancy line.
I like it. Many of you like it. The Jaguars have become the most talked about franchise in the NFL and for the first since their cup of coffee in the spotlight, they are topic d’ jour in a good way. Of course many do not like the Tebow acquisition. And that’s OK. Fine to disagree. Just don’t piss on everybody’s parade. Let folks be happy.
I wondered this week if there was a Las Vegas money line on whether Tebow would make the 53-man roster and play 8 of the 16 games, and what the odds would be? Would you risk $100 to win $500 that Tebow would make the roster and, unless injured, get in games as a tight end and special teams in eight games?
In the Great Debate About Signing Tim Tebow, raging for nearly two weeks, some of the weakest and most feeble criticisms were deployed by so-called experts.
“Unfairly taking a roster spot. Too old. Being favored by his old coach. Should have converted to tight end at 23, not 33, and just as he was a flop as a baseball player he’s a flop as an NFL tight end.”
Trouble is, they missed the whole point. Even if he’s cut and doesn’t take a snap, Tim Tebow will find a way to make the Jaguars better. And the good will created by Meyer and Chad Kahn will resonate forever in rewarding vibes for the once beleaguered franchise. Think about this: What if Tebow moves to the front office and helps secure the Jags future by sparing them from a possible move to London? Hey, we’re talking about Superman here! And the cheap imitation of talk show kryptonite won’t take him down.
Some of the crappiest comments have come from former players.
The ones that ticks me off most are what when they keep referring to as “losing the lockerroom.” I’ve been around locker rooms all my life, either as a player or journalist, and while there are no doubt specials tenets that must be adhered to, locker rooms are all different. The idea that a coach and GM must walk on eggshells and that every decision must be vetted by a vigilante committee is pure poppycock. I don’t remember Vince Lombardi holding a kangaroo court with Starr, Horning, Kramer and Davis to determine if Magee staying out late to drink before a Super Bowl hurt their feelings.
Who among these bad-mouthers even has a clue of what Urban Meyer is trying to build? Or what means of motivation he’s going to use? Would anybody who knows Meyer ever think for one second that he’d keep his pet player on the squad just as a favor even if Tebow wasn’t good enough?
I’ve read and heard just about all of the comments and quite a few others came to me through social media and on the Buddy Martin Show (see below). But the one that struck me the hardest was that of his former colleague and even teammate (briefly) whom I shall refer to as “Greg McHuckleberry,” who I felt went out of his way to hit below the belt.
You can figure out who I’m talking about.
“And I think it kind of undermines what Urban Meyer is trying to build. Maybe he makes the team, maybe he doesn’t, I don’t know. But it’s going to take away from the task at hand, which is trying to put together the most competitive roster in camp.
“And I bet you there’s going to be players, as someone who went to training camp with Tim, there are going to be players who are rolling their eyes at the amount of attention the fourth-string, fifth-string tight end gets, and it’s going to piss people off. As a result, it’s going to affect locker room chemistry, just like it did for us with the Jets. Not because anyone had any animosity toward Tim, they just have animosity with the coverage Tim receives. So, I think it’s a stupid move.”
Yeah, it really wrecked those Jets. No doubt they’d have won a couple of Super Bowls if Tebow hadn’t screwed up their chemistry. Good thing Greg Huckleberry came to the rescue!
And by the way, for those who blame Tebow for bringing “the circus to town” with him, some of us like circuses and find joy in things like the elephants, the lady on the flying trapeze and the car full of clowns. And if Greg Huckleberry wants to join the Jaguars, they’ve no doubt got a spot reserved for him in that clown car.
Here's what readers and listeners are saying about Tebow:
Did he (Greg McHuckleberry) learn so much in the 2 games he played in the NFL or the practice squad year? He won a Natty so I will give him that and that's all- #idiot. —John T Kerr
"If he (Tebow) doesn't feel he can contribute then I believe he will be the character to admit and he will be the one to walk away. I do not believe he will have to be cut. For the record, I believe he will make the team and contribute." — Tom Cothron
1. How many roster spots go to TE on one team? How many actually play? (Tampa has six. Name more than two)
2. When didn’t heart and character add to a players over all ability and value. Convince me otherwise'
3. People will flock because of who he was and is.
4. Brady came to Tampa and won against the odds. Why can’t Tebow catch a few passes?
— Danny Del Rio.
All he wants is a shot. He was blackballed in the NFL for whatever reason. Give him the chance, and let him decide the final outcome from his performance level. —William Too stall Hall
As a motivational speaker sure. But c’mon Buddy, those orange and blue glasses has your brain not being rational. Wonderful young man but he’s what 34? Hasn’t played in 8 years. Was bad at baseball now wants to try and play a brand new position at the highest skill level in the world? I’ve always said, marry my sister, teach my kid in Sunday school but I don’t think there’s anything left in the tank for the NFL. Before all the Tebow fans lose their minds, remember it’s just my opinion and the answer will come without any of our opinions having an effect. Let’s re-visit in December. —Mark Cook
(Mark: I’m in for December and willing to be wrong. Right now it has made the Jacksonville Jags the most talked about team in the NFL, including the defending world champs in Tampa. — Buddy)
Mark Cook let the process play out. We’re all talking about it, and it’s fun ... as it should be. Tebow will succeed or fail, and that’s life. If he flames out, it will be obvious to everyone, and life will go on. If he succeeds, well.... won’t that be something!? —Jamie Atkinson
Buddy: You should have heard what the critics said when Jimmy Johnson took over the Cowboys in 1989. —Ed Werder