The Jacksonville Jaguars have yet to officially sign Tim Tebow, but critics are already firing shots at the former Heisman Trophy winner.
Tebow has worked out for Jaguars officials on multiple occasions, impressing each time. The former quarterback, who last played an NFL down over eight years ago, is looking to return to the league as a tight end.
ESPN has reported that a one-year deal is all but imminent, and first-year head coach Urban Meyer has done little to dispel the notion.
While he did stress that “We have not signed Tim,” Meyer lavished praise on his former star player at the University of Florida during an appearance on “The Cris Collinsworth Podcast.”
“This guy is the most competitive maniac you’re ever going to talk to, so let’s give it a shot,” Meyer recounted telling his assistant coaches.
— Cris Collinsworth (@CollinsworthPFF) May 11, 2021
Predictably, hate started flowing as soon as news broke about the possible signing. A common tactic has been to compare Tebow’s likely return to the NFL with former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick‘s continued absence from the league.
Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker Devin Bush II tweeted that he couldn’t believe that Tebow “got a job” before Kaepernick.
??Tebow got a job before kaepernick. Wait til we play Jacksonville????
— Devin Bush ll (@_Dbush11) May 11, 2021
A host of media personalities also joined in the outrage.
Waiting for Colin Kaepernick to sign with the #Jaguars as a tight end too….. Wait, no?
— IG: JosinaAnderson (@JosinaAnderson) May 11, 2021
There is no scenario in which Tim Tebow provides more use on the football field than Colin Kaepernick
— Grant Liffmann (@GrantLiffmann) May 10, 2021
Tim Tebow finding a team and Colin Kaepernick can’t.
White privilege NFL style.
Tebow can’t throw, never could, never played TE, and hasn’t played in ..what …8 years?
Explain it to me like I’m 5.
— steven pasquale (@StevePasquale) May 10, 2021
The claim that Tebow and Kaepernick are in any way similar is a glaring false equivalency. The people repeating this narrative are either willfully skirting the facts in order to push an agenda or they’re beyond ignorant.
Tebow’s likely return to the NFL could only be considered a slight to Kaepernick if Kaepernick would accept a similar deal. Past evidence seems to strongly indicate that Kaepernick would have no interest in signing a deal to play tight end for the league minimum salary, which is what Tebow is expected to be paid.
Multiple reports over the years have painted Kaepernick as unwilling to bend on his view of himself as a starting quarterback who deserves to be paid accordingly.
In 2018, then-Broncos general manager John Elway revealed that Kaepernick turned to an offer to come to Denver. Kaepernick reportedly refused to take a deal for less than his $11.9 million annual salary.
“Colin had his chance to be here,” Elway said during a news conference.
There have been other instances of inflexibility that have crashed opportunities for Kaepernick to return to the NFL.
In 2018, he was scheduled to work out for the Seattle Seahawks before his refusal to stop kneeling for the national anthem threw a wrench in the situation. The Seahawks canceled his visit after he refused to commit to put an end to his kneeling, according to USA Today.
A year earlier, the Baltimore Ravens were on the brink of making a contract offer to Kaepernick when an ill-advised tweet caused an irreparable rift. Kaepernick’s girlfriend, Nessa, compared Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti to a slave owner.
“We were going to close the deal to sign him,” Bisciotti said, according to The Baltimore Sun. “And it never happens because that picture comes up the next day.”
While these events played out in the Colin Kaepernick saga, Tim Tebow was piling into Greyhound buses bound for glamorous locales such as Altoona and Akron with his minor league baseball teammates.
While his three years of toiling at the lower levels of professional baseball don’t offer any proof that his return to football will be a success, they do demonstrate his willingness to put his nose to the grindstone and work hard far from the spotlight — a very necessary trait for someone gunning for a spot as a backup tight end.
To say that Colin Kaepernick, the guy who signed a big-money deal with Nike and is releasing a book touting a “future without police and prisons,” seems unlikely to do the same is an understatement.
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