Tim Tebow isn’t gonna play a down for the Jacksonville Jaguars this season, but you already knew that. You know he can’t play quarterback. And you also know that any quarterback attempting a position switch to tight end NINE FUCKING YEARS after his last appearance in a meaningful NFL game isn’t gonna be worth a good goddamn. Did that stop Jags coach Urban Meyer—who’s never met an ethical meat shield he hasn’t taken full advantage of—from making good on his threat to sign him to the Jaguars? Fuck and no, it didn’t. Cue the ScheftBot 3000:
Oh wow, what a scoop: Man who’s written four memoirs about perseverance willing to persevere! I can already picture Schefter driving into a shadowy corner of a parking garage so that a paranoid, shifty-eyed source can slip him a confidential dossier on Tebow that reads, “He’s gonna give a hunnerd ‘n ten percent” and “He thinks pain is weakness leaving the body.”
This is hardly the first time Tim Tebow has proven a useful idiot to a professional sports team. The Jets traded basically nothing to the Broncos for him in 2012 and played him on special teams. The Pats brought Tebow into the camp the following summer, squeezed him for ancillary Jets intel, and let him play a few preseason snaps at QB before Bill Belichick drove him out to the side of the highway and released him back into the woods. You’ve borne witness—mouth agape—to The Tim Tebow Football Experience. You know what you’re getting. It’s as reliable as God’s eternal love.
The twist this time is that there’s NO illusion to it. There’s no miracle playoff win over the Steelers burnishing Tebow’s halo anymore. There’s no John Fox gritting his teeth and installing a 1951 offense to accommodate a quarterback that’s been forced upon him. There’s no Belichick standing at a podium and telling reporters, with a rigidly straight face, that Tebow is “a talented player” who “is smart and works hard,” as if that sets him apart from his contemporaries.
No, this time the gimmickry is the point. In that way, it’s no different from the Mets letting Tebow hang around their farm system for four years, in an elongated version of a Garth Brooks spring training at-bat. The Mets are a piece-of-shit team that, at the time, were owned by a piece-of-shit family. So it behooved them to sign Tebow on the cheap to sell some novelty jerseys and let Floridian and Evangelical casual fans have a glimpse at their jump-batting messiah in Binghamton, Port St. Lucie, and a handful of points in between. Tim Tebow was never gonna make the big leagues, but the Mets could fuck around like there was a CHANCE of it, let the Take-Industrial Complex assume control from there, and increase their public approval rating by a whopping half percent.
Which brings us to the Jaguars. Owner Shahid Khan, no stranger to poisoning the wells around him, presides over an organization that everyone instinctively cites when they needs to think of the most irrelevant NFL team. This remains true of the Jags despite the fact that the Houston Texans exist, and despite the fact that they just drafted the best quarterback prospect since Andrew Luck. The Jags still give off the scent of a pretend team, which is why Khan has let Meyer come in and do as he pleases until Meyer inevitably fakes a skull clot and goes hunting around for a higher-paying job. It’s also why Khan let Meyer sign Tebow when there’s nothing, at least football-wise, for Tebow to offer the Jaguars. I say that knowing that their situation at tight end above Tebow right now is abysmal, with Chris Manhertz presently occupying the first string. Again, another seemingly made-up entity. Any decent tight end off the street would probably be able to threaten Dickhertz for a job.
Tim Tebow is not that tight end, but that’s not his job this summer. His job this summer will be to serve as roster clickbait, so that ESPN gives the team a bonus three minutes of airtime on SportsCenter, and so that Skip Bayless can tell Shannon Sharpe that Tebow can win more titles than LeBron if we just give him the chance, and so that I can write this awful blog post. That’s the system working for you.
There are also enough Tebow fanboys still out there—particularly in the Kohl’s parking lot that is North Florida—to pay attention and once again treat their man like he’s history’s greatest underdog when he never has been. The switch to tight end is all the juice they need to tune out the haters and cling, yet again, to the fever dream of America’s Foremost Respecter proving everyone wrong.
Here is what I ask of Tebow’s disciples after he gets dropped into a Planet Aid bin this August: Find a new hero. That’s all I’m asking for. I know that’s a challenge ahead of you, but that, as usual, you will embrace it.
Because I have spent my entire life surrounded by MANY aggressively Christian pro athletes: Kurt Warner, Russell Wilson, Mariano Rivera, latter-day Randall Cunningham, A.C. Green, Chad Curtis, and more. These are all guys who name-dropped Jesus 57 times at any trophy ceremony and get ordained as unofficial sports archbishops because of it. And they’re still legion. Fucking Philip Rivers just retired, and we only know a sliver of what kind of depraved Quiverfull shit he was into. And Rivers was GOOD at quarterbacking! Everything Tebow’s devotees wish he could be, Marmalard actually was! And yet, Christians are flocking to Tebow’s prospects like it’s the only Dorito left on the table at the Last Supper. HAVE BETTER STANDARDS, YOU FUCKING LOSERS.
Because staying attached to Tebow after all these years, when he fucking sucks, is a failure of both taste and imagination. Many other big-name Christian athletes have either gone full MAGA or are out trying to bust up sex rings with the LaRoche family. But we’ve still got no shortage of straight-up goody-goody dipshits who never stop smiling, publish ghost-written inspiration tomes that consist mainly of cornbread recipes, and moonlight as goy-hels from time to time. It’s not the gaping hole in the market, perhaps the only hole Tebow is gleefully willing to penetrate, that Christian fans believe exists. Trevor Lawrence, who plays for the Jaguars and is actually good at quarterbacking, is one such Flanders. But Lawrence has success all over him, which means he won’t have to endure any of the imaginary persecution that Tebow has had to “suffer” through, and that’s the key. Roughly 98 percent of picks thank Jesus every draft and no one cares. Tebow wasn’t forced out of the league for his beliefs or his willingness to share them, he was cast out for his glaring lack of talent. And yet there remains an odd subculture within America that refuses to believe that.
It’s almost like these people can’t root for a successful athlete, because that would render him or her immune to skepticism. Luckily for them, Tim Tebow will never, ever be successful on the field, or on the diamond, or on the pommel horse if that’s his next move. He’s a cast-off, and a waste of time to those who know better. But for those who don’t, he’ll always be the martyr no one ever needed.