Urban Meyer doesn’t make decisions accidentally. He doesn’t sign off on roster additions made by someone else. If history is any guide here — and Meyer has plenty as one of college football’s most successful head coaches — every decision he makes is pored over with extreme detail.
Including the one to give Tim Tebow, a 34-year-old minor-league outfielder with no positional experience and zero football reps of any kind since 2015, a spot on Meyer’s first NFL training camp roster.
Now, the Meyer-Tebow experiment in Jacksonville is officially over, after the Jaguars waived Tebow on Tuesday. And the experiment was as absurd as it looked.
Tebow played quarterback for Meyer at Florida from 2006-09, winning the Heisman Trophy as a sophomore. Denver then made him a first-round draft pick, at No. 25, in 2010. But after bouncing around between the Broncos, Jets, Patriots and Eagles, Tebow’s NFL days were seemingly over five years later. He turned his attention to a career in broadcasting, then minor-league baseball.
At least until May, when his old coach decided to give him another NFL chance, at tight end for the Jaguars. This was despite the fact Tebow had never played tight end, and hadn’t been part of an NFL roster since 2015.
Tebow, quite simply, looked like an outfielder who used to play quarterback trying to play tight end. Like someone at a fantasy camp run by his dad. And though it’s hardly an indictment of the Meyer era in Jacksonville or in the NFL, it does raise questions about how all of this is going to go for the legendary former Ohio State/Florida head coach.
In a discussion about roster sizes with USA Today recently, Meyer dodged a question about whether Tebow deserved a spot on the Jaguars by pointing to random math and pretending to be concerned about something that others seem to value.
“The last thing you just said is the tough part — that’s 53. That’s new to me, that’s the reality of the NFL, that you have 90 players. So to me, he’s one of 90, he’s a guy that’s … what’s the difference between him and the other 40 guys trying to make the team? To me, it’s all the same. This is their livelihood, this is their job, this is the way they make a living,” Meyer said. “And the reality is that a good percentage of your roster is gonna get cut or get transitioned out of here, which, to me, that’s completely new. In college, you’ve got your 85, 90 guys, you fit ’em in, you put the puzzle together. It’s much different here.”
Livelihood. The Jaguars agreed to a one-year, $920,000 deal with Tebow — and obviously he didn’t make it. But that one-year contract, more than anything, represented an opportunity for which football players scrap their whole life. Even if Tebow were the sixth tight end and the 90th player on the Jags’ 90-man roster, his résumé compared to that of any player who couldn’t land a spot as the sixth tight end on any roster in the league is laughable.
Look at the fourth, fifth or sixth tight ends in camp at the Jaguars’ divisional rivals. Like the Colts’ Noah Togiai. Or the Titans’ Tommy Hudson. Or the Texans’ Kahale Warring. What do those players have in common? They played tight end on an organized football field before being offered contracts by their respective professional football organizations. They’ve all played the game within the past five years. Tebow’s résumé? You already know the answer there. To suggest there isn’t one, 10 or 50 capable tight ends who have NFL experience and could have filled that roster spot Tebow held for three months is ridiculous.