Jaguars roll out red carpet for 90th man on roster

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If there was any doubt that the signing of tight end Tim Tebow is more about business than football, consider a pair of recent press releases issued by the Jaguars.

On May 1, after the conclusion of the 2021 draft, the Jaguars announced that they had agreed to terms with six undrafted free agents. The release includes the names, positions, heights, weights, and colleges of the players, with no other information beyond the proper pronunciation of “Imatorbhebhe.”

Here’s the full release issued by the Jaguars at 8:20 a.m. ET on Thursday, after giving the perfunctory head’s up to the speed dial of newsbreakers who tweet that which is about to be announced anyway:

“The Jacksonville Jaguars have signed TE Tim Tebow, the team announced today.

“‘I want to thank the Jaguars for the opportunity to compete and earn the chance to be part of this team,’ Tebow said. ‘I know it will be a challenge, but it is a challenge I embrace. I am dedicated to taking the direction of our coaching staff and learning from my teammates. I appreciate everyone’s support as I embark on this new journey.’

“Tebow’s NFL career spans three seasons, two with Denver and one with the New York Jets. He was originally drafted by the Broncos in the first round of the 2010 NFL Draft and played in nine games as a rookie, passing for 654 yards and five TDs, while adding 227 rushing yards and six TDs on the ground. In 2011, Tebow played in 14 games and completed 126-of-271 passes for 1,729 yards and 12 TDs. His sophomore season was punctuated by a game-winning 80-yard TD pass to WR Demaryius Thomas on the first play of overtime to defeat Pittsburgh in the Wild Card round of the playoffs.

“Prior to his first stint in the NFL, Tebow attended the University of Florida, where he was a two-time national champion, two-time SEC Player of the Year, two-time First-Team All-American, AP Player of the Year (2007) and winner of the 2007 Heisman Trophy. Prior to his time in Gainesville with then-Head Coach Urban Meyer, Tebow competed at Trinity Christian Academy in Jacksonville and Nease High School in Ponte Vedra.

“In addition to his football career, Tebow has engaged in multiple philanthropic initiatives, including his own Tim Tebow Foundation, which brings faith, hope and love to those needing a brighter day in their darkest hour of need. The Jacksonville native also spent several years competing in minor league baseball and has served as a college football analyst on ESPN and the SEC Network. In December 2020, he became a part-owner of the Jacksonville Icemen.

“He and his wife, Demi-Leigh, were married in January 2020.”

That’s hardly the kind of press release devoted to a Rudy-style cannon-fodder player who’ll inevitably be cut. It’s the kind of press release that is issued for a player for whom the team has plans.

Those plans surely include using Tebow to move tickets, to sell jerseys, to generate excitement. Those plans, to have any relevance beyond August, will include giving him a 53-man roster spot or, at a minimum, a place on the practice squad — with the chance of being called up every week as one of the two players who can move back and forth between practice squad and active roster.

However it plays out in the final shaping of the roster, Tebow’s on the team for now. He’ll attract plenty of attention. As former Jets quarterback Greg McElroy recently said, the coverage devoted to a fourth-string tight end will irritate other players. The inevitable questions that all players will face from the media will make them eventually weary of being asked about a guy who didn’t earn his opportunity via merit.

It doesn’t matter how many roster spots there are. There always will be fewer jobs than people who want them. By giving Meyer’s pet the 90th position on the team, someone else who is objectively more worthy necessarily won’t get his opportunity.

The Jaguars have the right to do it. But they shouldn’t try to act like it’s anything other than what it is.

Jaguars roll out red carpet for 90th man on roster originally appeared on Pro Football Talk