The real way Tebow can help the Jaguars

It’s unlikely Tim Tebow has a major impact on the Jacksonville Jaguars next season. At least not on the field.

The 33-year-old is expected to sign a one-year deal with the team in the next week, the NFL Network reported. He will try to make the roster as a tight end. Good for him to give it a try.

Even if he survives the final cut — a long shot, but who knows, the Jags aren’t exactly swimming in talent — you’re talking about an aging player at a lesser position. Unless he has some secret Gronk or Kelce in him, he’ll be what he’ll be. Throw a few blocks, catch a few passes.

That isn’t to say there isn’t value in bringing Tebow aboard.

If nothing else, he serves as a fine bit of media and fan diversion from Jacksonville’s two very important rookies: head coach Urban Meyer and quarterback Trevor Lawrence.

Those two will play the biggest roles in whether the latest Jags reboot becomes anything. Tebow is a stopgap, a curiosity item, an aging veteran gamble. He is an expression of loyalty from Meyer, his old coach at the University of Florida.

He creates a sensation wherever he goes. For Meyer and Lawrence, that’s probably a good thing.

Meyer won three national titles at the college level and is now trying to conquer a different beast: the NFL. His every move has been — and will be — scrutinized. Some of it has been good; he earned praise for his draft. Some less so; he had to reverse course on the hiring of controversial strength-and-conditioning coach Chris Doyle.

Unlike the college game, the NFL has mandated media sessions and at least some more public viewings. There are no easy games on the schedule where you just overwhelm some smaller school with talent. Meyer will be picked apart from the start.

Lawrence, meanwhile, arrives from three star seasons at Clemson, where he won his own national title as a freshman. As the No. 1 pick overall and already a household name, he is the face of the Jags’ rebirth. He and his new wife, Marissa, have already been filmed about town by both social and traditional media.

Lawrence is an impressive prospect, but that’s all he is. The NFL has laid wreck to players with great potential for generations now. Peyton Manning threw 28 interceptions as a rookie.

It’s a position where young players tend to struggle. Every rep in training camp will be analyzed and discussed in a media market that, while not large in terms of size, has no other professional sports to draw attention away from the team. It’s all Jaguars in Jacksonville, especially now with a famed new coach and a famed new quarterback.

So enter Tebow, who, even far removed from his prime as a football player, remains his own tour de force. He grew up in the area and helped Meyer win a national title at UF, where he won a Heisman Trophy.

His NFL career had highs (a playoff victory while in Denver) and plenty of lows (traded or cut by the Broncos, New York Jets, New England and Philadelphia).

At each stop, whether it lasted an entire season or just part of training camp, Tebow was one of the biggest stories on the team. Whether they root for him or against him, millions of fans remain interested, even many who won’t admit it.

He could have stayed in the league if he had been willing to switch positions sooner. Patriots coach Bill Belichick was especially interested in using him as a tight end, H-back, fullback, Swiss Army knife of sorts. Tebow refused.

“I think a lot of people don’t get it or understand it,” Tebow told Yahoo Sports years later. “They say, ‘Why? Why not go to a different position in football?’ It’s because it’s not the game of football. It’s what you love doing in it. For me, it was the position of quarterback.”

To him, it was quarterback or nothing. So it was nothing.

Tebow eventually spent five years as a minor league baseball player, doing little more than selling tickets and signing autographs. He reached Triple-A ball, but was never much of a threat to make the majors.

He never stopped drawing crowds of fans and media. He never stopped creating excitement and interest in whatever he was doing. A Tebow at-bat was a reason to sit up and watch. Why? Who knows. It is what it is.

That won’t change in Jacksonville. He’s now willing to do whatever it takes to get on the field. The comeback will be a huge storyline. And every day he’s in the spotlight is one less day it is zeroed in on the young QB and the adjusting coach.

Is that enough of a reason to sign Tebow? No, but it’s something. He’ll likely bring more to the table, as well. He’ll work hard, although pretty much everyone in the NFL works hard. He could prove there’s still something in the tank. He might even make the roster. Maybe.

This is a 1-15 team signing a no-risk deal with a potential backup tight end. If he wasn’t named Tim Tebow, no one would care. Instead, a lot of people do.

That alone explains part of his value.

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