Thoughts of the Day: May 13, 2021

A few thoughts to jump start your Thursday morning:


“In all my career of covering sports, I have never, ever seen anything like the Tim Tebow Effect. He is simply the most polarizing player we’ve ever seen in any sport.” – Skip Bayless

Typically, I’m about 50-50 with Skip Bayless, as in 50 percent of the time I think he’s onto something and 50 percent of the time I couldn’t disagree with him more, but when it comes to Tim Tebow and how the media, professional athletes and the entertainment industry react, I am with him 100 percent. Tim Tebow is indeed polarizing. He’s either loved or despised and it seems there is no middle ground.

Bayless happens to be a big Tebow supporter. Always has been and I presume always will be. Bayless was quick to use his “Undisputed” Fox Sports radio show that he does with Shannon Sharpe to praise Urban Meyer for giving Tebow a shot to make the team as a tight end. As if there weren’t enough critics taking their shots at Meyer and Tebow, someone named Liam McKeone chimed in, trashing both Tebow and Bayless for supporting him.

If you’ve never heard of McKeone, don’t feel like you’re the only one. He writes for something called “The Big Lead,” which is a sports blog for which McKeone is an editor and columnist and not to be confused with truly great sports writers of the past such as Dan Jenkins or Furman Bisher or present day great ones like Wright Thompson or Pat Forde.

Here are some of McKeone’s comments about Tebow and Bayless:

“There really aren’t many athletes like Tim Tebow who can rile up every sector of the sports crowd through his sheer presence. However, to act like we don’t know why is ridiculous. Tebow makes everyone’s blood boil because he stinks at football. And kept getting jobs based on name recognition and name recognition only!

“People do not hate Tim Tebow because of who he is. I don’t even think many people hate Tim Tebow at all. What people hate is the media circus that comes attached to his name and the fact that apparently every football coach in the country is enamored with him for reasons nobody can understand.

“They also hate analysts like Bayless going to bat for him. Yes, Tebow won a lot in college. That was over a decade ago! If all he did was win, he wouldn’t have washed out in the NFL in less than four years. To hear Bayless tell it, the Broncos should have won the Super Bowl in 2011 with Tebow’s all-time intangibles instead of getting obliterated on national TV by the Patriots. The last time he won anything of note, Bayless was still chopping it up with Stephen A. Smith on ESPN.”

Normally, I wouldn’t respond to anything said by a nobody like McKeone, but this just irked me to the point that I will do a quick point-by-point breakdown:

1. That Mr. McKeone thinks he knows why is ridiculous. The people who so strongly dislike Tebow didn’t like him when he was at Florida, liked him less when he was in the NFL and let that dislike carry over to his years playing professional baseball. They are absolutely losing their minds now. I have a theory about The Tim Tebow Effect. Tim makes people uncomfortable because he’s willing to stand up for something and seems oblivious to the slings and arrows the haters fire at him. The more they fire away, the more Tim turns the other cheek. It really has nothing at all to do with football. It is the fact that by not giving them an angry response it makes them feel quite inadequate. Tim may not have been a great NFL quarterback, but he was 7-4 as a starter in 2011 and he did lead six comeback wins including one in the playoffs. He made it to Triple A in baseball and while he wasn’t great, he made the All-Star Game in Double A. If he had played college baseball, he might have made it all the way to the majors. That he made it as far as he did is remarkable.

2. The media circus. From 2006-09 I probably wrote more about Tim Tebow than anyone on the planet. I don’t recall a single time that Tebow invited the media to stick all those microphones in his face. I don’t recall him ever asking for all the attention. I also don’t recall Tim inviting websites and so-called journalists intent on trashing him to send naked women to his door in an attempt to prove he was a hypocrite but they did and the women never got past the front door. Tim didn’t ask for the attention but he got it because he was one of the greatest college football players of all time. He won a Heisman Trophy and finished top five in the Heisman voting two other times. The Gators went 48-7 with two national championships and three 13-1 seasons in his four years. I was there to see the crowds of people who lined the street leading to the practice facility every day just to get a glimpse of him up close and personal and maybe, just maybe, get a nod, a smile, or even a high five from him. Tim never asked for that. Some in the media marveled at the phenomenon. Others were angered. I think the ones that got angry had the problem, not Tim. Oh, and the media is indeed losing its mind because Tim Tebow held to his convictions and got to marry Miss Universe.

3. We will never know if Tim Tebow could have had a successful NFL career as a quarterback. Former Gator and Jacksonville Jaguars great Fred Taylor thinks given a chance in a system that played to Tebow’s strengths that he could have done well, but that’s something we won’t ever know. What we do know is that he’s a good enough athlete that Urban Meyer is willing to give him a chance to make it with the Jaguars, not as a quarterback but as a tight end. Meyer isn’t guaranteeing Tebow anything but a chance to prove he’s capable of contributing to the Jaguars. It’s up to Tim to make it. Urban isn’t going to waste a roster spot on Tebow if he can’t cut it.

There are other critics out there who say the only reason Tebow is getting this chance is because he is white. They point out that Colin Kaepernick, who also hasn’t played in the NFL in awhile, is jobless while Tebow is being given a shot. White privilege they say.

Actor Steve Pasquale – have you ever heard of him? Is he famous? – went on Twitter with this:

“Tim Tebow finding a team and Colin Kaepernick can’t. White privilege NFL style. He can’t throw, never could, never played TE, and hasn’t played in … what … 8 years?”

Former Michigan and now Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker Devin Bush Jr., son of former FSU safety and NFL veteran Devin Bush, tweeted out this:

“Tebow got a job before Kaepernick. Wait til we play Jacksonville. And if you a fan talking about that (censored). Go get a helmet and some pads I’ll do you dirty @ yo local park.”

Those weren’t the only ones who claimed that it’s unfair for Tebow to get a chance to play when Kaepernick hasn’t played in the NFL since 2016. Matt Walsh of The Daily Wire, got fed up with the race-baiters who are comparing Tebow’s return with Kaepernick.

Writes Walsh: “Tim Tebow will be attending training camp to try out for a different position, where he will no doubt be a backup and get paid the minimum salary or close to it. He just wants to play the game and he’s willing to do whatever it takes for a shot at playing the game. In contrast, Colin Kaepernick has shown no interest in playing at any position, let alone a less glamorous one as a backup for comparatively little money.

“In fact, two years ago the NFL held a workout in the middle of the 2019 season in which 25 scours attended. The NFL doesn’t usually hold personal workouts for aging backup players in the middle of the season, or at any other time of the year. They did it for Kaepernick because he’d call them racist if they didn’t, but as it turns out, he’ll call them racist even if they do. That’s how it goes with guys like Kaepernick. Kaepernick then bailed on the workout to instead hold his own media even where he wore a shirt comparing himself to a slave, making him the highest-paid slave in history we must say.”

Paul Finebaum, who observed Tebow as a college football player before working with him for seven years on the SEC Network, pointed out that the Jacksonville Jaguars were the worst team in the NFL last year, so even if there are five tight ends currently on the roster, it’s not as if these guys are perennial Pro Bowl candidates:

“Tim wants to help. He understands his career as a quarterback is over but he has an effect on the locker room and you have to understand that and you have to understand one more thing – this is the worst team in the NFL and we’re talking about a tight end position. We’re not talking about the Bucs here at quarterback. We’re talking about the Jaguars at tight end.

“He (Urban Meyer) knows what he’s doing here. He knows that the end game is and the end game is to get Tim Tebow into that franchise and into that coaching locker room in some way, shape or form.”

The Jacksonville franchise is the worst in the NFL which is why owner Shahid Khan was willing to shell out a huge amount of money to Urban Meyer, giving him carte blanche to do whatever it takes to turn the Jaguars into a contender. Urban does indeed know what he’s doing. He’s evaluates talent better than any coach I’ve been around in more than 50 years of writing about football. He also knows what it takes in the locker room and on the field to transform a team to a championship level.

Here is what Urban knows he’s getting with Tim Tebow. He’s getting a guy whose effort will be unquestioned, someone who doesn’t take a snap off whether in a game or in practice. Tebow will be Urban’s measuring stick for effort and attitude. Can you imagine some guy with a big contract who’s been in the league five years getting outhustled and outworked by a 33-year old on a make good contract? If he sees Tebow outworking him and isn’t willing to give the effort, he will be looking for gainful employment elsewhere. If Tebow makes it, he will have served a dual purpose.

UF SOFTBALL: GATORS FACE MISSISSIPPI STATE IN SEC TOURNAMENT Having already won the SEC regular season championship, Tim Walton and the 3rd-ranked Gators (40-8) will be looking to add an SEC Tournament title to their resume starting at noon today when they face Mississippi State (33-22), a 3-1 winner over Ole Miss, in the second round. Mississippi State, which lost three games to the Gators in shutout fashion in Starkville back in March, has won seven consecutive games. The Gators have won four in a row including the last three over Texas A&M to get a share of the SEC regular season championship with Arkansas.

A FEW SEC THOUGHTS: The Florida women’s golf team missed advancing past the NCAA regionals by a single stroke … Akeem Odusipe (6-9, 230, FR) became the seventh Vanderbilt basketball player to transfer out Wednesday … Arkansas hired former Indiana All-American Keith Smart as a basketball assistant. He’s been an NBA head coach with Cleveland, Golden State and Sacramento … The SEC Track and Field Championships begin today in College Station … Former Auburn D-lineman Jaren Handy is transferring to Indiana.

ONE FINAL PITHY THOUGHT: Apparently, things are getting chippy between Nike and the University of Alabama. Alabama gets $5.25 million per year in cash and apparel from Nike, as part of a contract signed in secret by former AD Bill Battle back in 2018. Alabama wants to renegotiate the deal, particularly since Ohio State and Texas both have deals worth in excess of $16 million annually. The Ohio State deal, finalized in 2018-19, runs through 2033 and has a net worth of $252 million when royalties are added in. Nike says it won’t renegotiate the Alabama deal even though Alabama football is the most successful and visible Nike brand out there. Do you wonder how much Adidas would pony up to steal Alabama and Nick Saban away from Nike? Alabama athletic director Greg Byrne ought to get run out of Tuscaloosa on a rail if he isn’t already negotiating with Adidas.

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