Some members of the Jacksonville Jaguars organization reportedly don't think signing former quarterback Tim Tebow to try out for the team as a tight end "sends the proper message."
ESPN's Jeff Darlington reported details about the impending addition to the Jags roster, a move orchestrated by new head coach Urban Meyer, during an appearance Tuesday on SportsCenter:
"When you cite the resume, when you talk about all of these things, it sounds pretty wild, and that certainly is the mindset of those in the Jaguars building. Not everybody—obviously Urban Meyer is the one behind all of this—but not everybody in the Jaguars building is thrilled with this. They don't think that it necessarily sends the proper message to the rest of the team in the locker room and the guys trying to make this team. Urban Meyer, though, is quite the opposite. They said this can be a 'cultural jolt' in the locker room to kind of send a message that Urban wants.
"Now, I covered Tebow pretty extensively back in 2011 and basically lived in Denver throughout that whole experience, and what I can tell you is that Tebow's leadership might be a little bit different in the NFL than what it was in college when Urban Meyer remembered him. So, when I talk to coaches and players in the NFL, they do look at this and say, 'If you're looking for somebody to change culture, it's not necessarily a guy like Tebow, especially at this point in his career.'
"So, there's definitely some differences of opinions within Jacksonville, but hey, Urban Meyer runs the show now. So, he'll get the chance to show that Tebow does deserve the chance in the NFL—something obviously other people don't necessarily think he does."
Tebow played under Meyer at the University of Florida from 2006 through 2009. The stretch included two national championships, two SEC Player of the Year Awards and the 2007 Heisman Trophy.
The quarterback was also the inspirational leader of the Gators, famously delivering his "I promise" speech in 2008 that preceded a 10-game winning streak en route to the national title:
Tebow didn't stick in the NFL as a quarterback. He completed just 47.9 percent of his passes across 35 career appearances with the Denver Broncos and New York Jets.
He's since tried his hand at baseball, embarking on a five-year career in the New York Mets' minor league system prior to his retirement in February, and he also worked as an SEC Network college football analyst.
Now, at age 33, he's trying to make an NFL comeback as a tight end.
As Darlington alluded, Tebow's expected signing with the Jags is probably less about his potential on-field contributions and more focused on his success with Meyer at Florida building a winning culture.
Jacksonville is coming off a 1-15 season in 2020. The Jags were able to hire Meyer and select their new franchise quarterback, Trevor Lawrence, with the first overall pick in the 2021 draft.
Last week, the longtime college coach told Judy Battista of NFL.com he believes changing the culture is a crucial part of turning around a franchise's fortunes.
"Just saying there's bad players, that's not fair," Meyer said. "I don't agree with that at all. Certain organizations draft before others every year and they just don't win, so you can't blame the players. And I don't believe it's just bad coaching. I'm a big believer in culture and leadership, and I found some things I felt we can make better."
That effort is likely the main reason Tebow will spend training camp and the preseason with the Jaguars, even if he's a long shot to make the final roster. He can help Meyer set that new tone with the knowledge of everything they went through together across four years at Florida.
Whether that's a good enough reason to use one of the team's initial 90 roster spots on a 33-year-old first-time tight end is up for debate, but Meyer's work to turn around the Jacksonville organization goes beyond the X's and O's, and he sees Tebow as part of the potential solution.