They’re doomed. It’s a foregone conclusion that Tim will fail because he’s almost 34 and surely over the hill. Urban will lose the lockerroom for cheating other young tight ends out of a roster spot and gifting it to his former player. The whole thing will blow up in their face and the Jacksonville Jaguars will become the laughingstock of the NFL. How do I know this? Because I’ve heard and read it for over a week now.
Shame on Urban Meyer and Tim Tebow for defrauding NFL fans!
What’s that you say? You’re the one person who believes Tebow being signed by the Jaguars is a good thing and the story will turn out to have a happy ending? Sit down and shut up! Don’t be bringing that positive crap in around here!
As we write this column, we are still awaiting Tebow’s signature on the contract for it to become real. Meanwhile, back to the real news. Oh wait – please, no! There’s a sense of foreboding about the news today, so quick, let’s go back over to sports channel.
Normally this is the time for NFL fans to get jacked up about the schedule being announced – the Bucs opening vs. the Cowboys and Tom Brady and going back to play in New England; the Jags playing the Dolphins in London and Urban Meyer making his debut in Jax vs. the Saints. To be played before packed houses. But hold on here –
Let me apologize for once again using the “T” word and writing about a guy who hasn’t played a down for more than 3,000 days.
To be honest, I don’t know if I’ve got the gumption to argue the Tebow-to-Jacksonville pro and con anymore. The Red State vs. Blue State political cold war debate kind of knocked the stuffing out of me. I’m already on record as supporting the idea of the Jaguars giving Tebow a shot, so there’s nothing more to say. Except let’s wait to see and enjoy the ride. Am I the only one who feels this is fun?
“This is a great story,” said ESPN host Paul Finebaum, whose program has been inundated by callers this week on the Tebow issue, even though Paul’s listeners are college fans. He sees this as a viable option that may or may not work – but should be considered. Like so many others, Finebaum’s got his doubts, but is willing to give it a chance. “There’s no way you can guarantee somebody an NFL roster spot. It must be earned.”
Not that it’s comparable, but imagine if Peyton Manning decided to become the head coach o the Saints tomorrow and asked his brother Eli to play another season as backup quarterback? Bad idea? Absurd? Maybe. Good story? Of course! What if it worked?
In other similar cases it has failed. Look no further than Washington and Steve Spurrier when he brought in Danny Wuerffel and Shane Matthews. Of course since Spurrier wasn’t allowed to pick his quarterback initially and pulled the plug on owner Daniel Snyder, it was never going to become a long-term solution.
I think what the critics are missing is the joy of “possibility.” Where do dreams go to live anymore? Which is what makes the story so delicious. Have we become so calloused by name-calling, garbage-throwing politics and the deadly virus that we can’t root for people?
I loved the comment by Tebow’s former All-American linebacker teammate Brandon Spikes: “He won two national championships at Florida for Urb. Now Urb is giving him a chance to play again in the NFL. I don’t see the issue here folks. Can’t y’all just be happy for the guy?”
And as I’ve said hundreds of times – especially to those who love to cast me as the blind patriot and unabashed homer (partly justified) – I root for the story over the team. And, in some cases, moreso when it involves my friends. And I will admit to being friends with one or more of these subjects.
Meanwhile, if you’ve ever been in a position to hire somebody you know well, believe in their skills and are confident he or she can do the job better than anyone else -- but become hesitant over the voices of critics -- maybe you’ll appreciate Urban’s dilemma.
I’ve been there twice – once at the pinnacle of my career. I was doing a national search for an executive sports editor in New York and kept running up dark alleys before the light turned on for me. The best guy was somebody I’d been working with as an assistant three times before. I finally gave in and hired him. From there, my friend and former assistant became a renown journalistic figure and, once out from under my tutelage, soared to the highest echelon of his profession. Critics had told me I should have found somebody else and accused me of just favoring my friend.
Urban, of course, doesn’t have a bunch of film on Tebow playing tight end and has never coached him as a pro. I can attest to Meyer’s conviction that he’s always felt Tim’s ability, leadership and intense competitive nature would make him an intriguing candidate.
On numerous occasions – and especially while we were doing a podcast over the summer – Urban said if Tim ever decided to return to the NFL he’d likely find a coach interested in talking to him. “But Tim has to decide what he wants to do,” Urban would say – including playing baseball and broadcasting on TV. Turns out it that coach was Urban.
When Tebow called his old coach and then agreed to work out as a tight end, Urban asked two of his assistants to evaluate him. Meyer wasn’t there. Apparently his coaches were blown away.
“He was in the best shape of his life,” Meyer told Cris Collinsworth. “Asked to see if he could work out with a couple of our coaches. I wasn’t even there. And they came back to me and said, ‘Wow. This guy is in incredible shape.’ Then I went another time and watched them try him out. And they said, ‘Go work on these things.’ He comes back later and they try him out again. I’m not there. And they came in and said, ‘Wow, this guy has ball skills. He’s a great athlete. He looks like he’s 18 years old and not 33.’ And I said, ‘Guys, you don’t understand. Now this guy is the most competitive maniac you’re ever going to talk to, and let’s give it a shot.’”
It’s going to be a rough road for both Urban and Tim, but they’ve chosen a path of extremely challenging circumstance and substantial resistance. No matter if they succeed, they’ll never get full credit. And besides, don’t we love to see heroes fall?