That legendary college career probably proved key to Tebow’s return to the NFL after an eight-year absence, during which he tried to change sports and become an outfielder for the New York Mets before giving up that dream earlier this year. At Florida, where he won the Heisman Trophy while helping the Gators win two national championships, he played for Urban Meyer, who is now the first-year head coach of the Jacksonville Jaguars. Shortly before the NFL draft at the end of April, Tebow tried out for the Jaguars as a tight end, and despite never having played the position before he apparently impressed Jacksonville enough to spark reports that a one-year contract was imminent.
To a few NFL players, Tebow’s return after such a lengthy absence, and with such a thin résumé — he had some memorable moments during two seasons with the Denver Broncos but quickly washed out of the league — provided yet another reminder that a quarterback with a more recent and much more impressive body of work continues to go unsigned.
“It’s mind blowing to me that kaepernick has no job but Tebow does,” Philadelphia Eagles cornerback Darius Slay said Tuesday on Twitter, referring to former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who has been a free agent since 2017. Appending a face-palm emoji, Slay added, “No hate toward Tebow just don’t understand.”
“Tebow got a job before kaepernick,” Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker Devin Bush tweeted, adding a crying-with-laughter emoji. “Wait til we play Jacksonville.”
In a subsequent tweet, Bush clarified that his comments had “nothing to do with the whole race, protest thing” but were just “competitor vs competitor.”
Dez Bryant saw a racial element in the expected signing, after he initially declared, “So Tebow haven’t played an NFL game in damn near a decade and it’s that simple … no hate but you got to be kidding me.”
Bryant, a free agent wide receiver who played last season with the Baltimore Ravens, subsequently posted a longer note to Twitter in which he said his remarks were “not a slight at Tebow” but a lesson to “wake up and see what goes on and take care of yours.”
“This is why I preach unity in black society and taking care of US,” Bryant wrote. “ … Controlling what we can control and building our community.”
“It’s all about who u know,” former Kansas City Chiefs safety Ron Parker tweeted on Monday, adding “don’t burn bridges” in a hashtag. Parker, who also played with four other teams during an eight-year career, expressed amazement that the 33-year-old Tebow might get signed after “sitting out that many years.”
“They told me I was getting old at 30,” he wrote, adding a laughing emoji.
During a podcast appearance Monday (via NFL.com), Meyer described Tebow as “the most competitive maniac you’re ever going talk to,” and said he told his staff, “Let’s give it a shot.” The 56-year-old coach, last seen on the sidelines with Ohio State in 2018, asserted that Tebow is “in the best shape of his life.”
Adewale Ogunleye didn’t have as positive a view of things. “The Tebow signing is an insult!” exclaimed the former Miami Dolphins and Chicago Bears defensive end.
“Picking up Tebow show me the jags clearly don’t have winning on they mind!!!!” Chris Johnson, a former Tennessee Titans and Arizona Cardinals running back, tweeted.
Steve Nelson, though, said he was “all in” on Tebow’s return. “What a story,” added the free agent cornerback, who has played for the Chiefs and Steelers. His assertion that Tebow would make a Pro Bowl drew a derisive response from former Steelers offensive lineman Ramon Foster, but Denver Broncos safety Kareem Jackson also declared his “love” for the burly ex-quarterback.
“He got more lives than a cat,” Jackson tweeted laughingly.
No one showed more support than Brandon Spikes, a former New England Patriots and Buffalo Bills linebacker who played with Tebow at Florida.
In a string of Twitter posts Tuesday, Spikes said he loved the expected signing, congratulated Tebow and told him, “Do your best and continue to be a great role model.”
Also noting the “relationship” between Meyer and Tebow, Spikes joked, “I’m gonna call Urb and see if I can get a job as the head Equipment Manager for the jaguars.”
“So y’all can stop pulling this race bull----! This ain’t that,” he added.
“He won two national championships at Florida for Urb,” Spikes wrote. “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?”
That got the attention of Junior Galette, a former linebacker for New Orleans and Washington who told Spikes that the opportunity being afforded Tebow was unfair to “real black players out here that actually played [tight end].”
Saying that Tebow is “a great guy and he’s my brother,” Spikes replied to Galette, “Don’t shoot me down for supporting a teammate I went to battle with.”
“His college coach is now the head coach of the only team to give him a tryout,” Spikes said of Tebow and Meyer. “His coach knows he is a hard working and team oriented athlete that would be happy to play a role. Why are y’all still confused?!?”