Tim Tebow and Urban Meyer are together again, this time in the NFL and with Tebow playing a new position.
The former Florida star and 2007 Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback signed a one-year contract with the Jacksonville Jaguars on Thursday and will attempt to revive his pro career as a tight end. The move also reunites two of college football’s most polarizing figures over the past 15 years.
The 33-year-old Tebow is returning to the NFL after five years (2016-20) in the New York Mets’ organization and he’ll be playing for Meyer for the first time since his senior year in 2009.
“I know it will be a challenge, but it is a challenge I embrace,” Tebow said in a statement. “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.”
He will be on the field with his new team Thursday and wearing No. 85 for a voluntary, closed workout. Tebow is not expected to have any media availability until training camp, at the earliest, in hopes of minimizing the media circus that follows the devout Christian who has received rock star treatment at every NFL stop.
His comeback is unprecedented because of his age, his new position and the fact that he last played in a regular-season game in 2012, with the New York Jets.
Several teams suggested Tebow make the position change years ago, but he declined.
He finally switched after retiring from baseball in February. He worked out for the Jaguars the following week, the first of two exploratory sessions that came to light hours before the start of the NFL draft on April 29.
Meyer raved about Tebow’s workouts, saying assistants were surprised to see the 235-pounder in such great shape. Ultimately, Tebow’s ability to pick up a new position — a number of college QBs have made the transition look seamless — will determine whether he makes the team.
Just getting a chance after such a lengthy layoff has stirred debate about preferential treatment. Others insist it’s merely the result of a decadeslong relationship that now includes Meyer and Tebow being neighbors in Jacksonville.
“This Tebow deal just shows that personal relationships go further at this level than actual ability,” Carolina Panthers defensive tackle DaQuan Jones posted on Twitter last week.
Former Dallas receiver Dez Bryant, current Pittsburgh linebacker Devin Bush and Denver safety Kareem Jackson were among a number of others who criticized the move.
“So Tebow haven’t played an NFL game in damn near a decade and it’s that simple … no hate but you got to be kidding me,” Bryant tweeted.
Added Jackson: “... he got more lives than a cat.”