While ESPN analyst Tim Tebow (seen above on First Take in 2018) finally gave up on his attempts to play professional baseball (while maintaining an ESPN career!) this February, he’s now apparently looking to return to professional football. Tebow played in the NFL as a quarterback from 2010-11 with the Denver Broncos and in 2012 with the New York Jets, and had offseason appearances with the Philadelphia Eagles (2013) and New England Patriots (2015), but hasn’t played professional football since then (despite a whole lot of talk over several years about him potentially signing with the Canadian Football League’s Montreal Alouettes, which, as predicted, amounted to absolutely nothing). But, as per his ESPN colleague Adam Schefter, Tebow is now apparently willing to play tight end (something many suggested for him throughout his first NFL stint), and has asked the Jacksonville Jaguars for a tryout at that position:
Tim Tebow recently reached out to the Jaguars and requested a tryout at the tight end position, per sources, a move many believe would have extended his NFL career had he made the transition earlier. He recently worked out with the Jaguars’ TE coach. No decision has been made.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) April 29, 2021
On some levels, it’s quite absurd that this is even a discussion. Tebow will be 34 in August, and hasn’t played in a regular-season game since 2012, and hasn’t been playing football at any notable level since the 2015 offseason. And, in fairness, the Jaguars haven’t committed to anything here, and even a tryout wouldn’t necessarily mean much. But it’s still something that Tebow is getting a look when many others are not. And some of that certainly may be about new Jaguars’ head coach Urban Meyer, who was Tebow’s head coach at the University of Florida and now lives three houses down from him at a Jacksonville country club.
Moreover, while Rob Gronkowski did recently show that it’s possible to take time off and come back to the NFL in a notable way as a tight end, those situations aren’t equivalent. For one thing, Gronkowski always played tight end. For another, he retired after the 2018 season, then came back with Tampa Bay last year, so he spent only one season away from the NFL. Beyond that, Gronkowski will be 32 in May, so he’s almost two years younger than Tebow. And perhaps most importantly, the 6’6”, 265-pound Gronkowski is a matchup nightmare, while the 6’3”, 245-pound Tebow is not.
And yes, Gronkowski’s comeback worked out. He caught 45 passes for 623 yards and seven touchdowns during the season, and then added eight catches for 110 yards and two touchdowns (including one in Super Bowl LV in February) in the postseason. But a successful Tebow comeback seems to be at much higher levels of difficulty. There’s some logic to the Jaguars telling Tebow “Sure, we’ll take a look,” especially considering the relationship between Tebow and Meyer, and especially considering that a tryout alone provides no obligations for the team. But if this winds up going any further than that, it will deserve significant scrutiny. It’s awfully hard to believe that a 33-year-old ESPN analyst who hasn’t been in the NFL in six years and didn’t play tight end in college or professional football is a better option then the many, many talented other tight ends out there.
[Adam Schefter on Twitter]