Photo from Tim Tebow’s website.
By Terrance Turner
May 10, 2021
The Jacksonville Jaguars are expected to sign former quarterback Tim Tebow to a 1-year deal, according to NFL reporter Ian Rapoport. The new deal would have Tebow playing tight end, which is significant since the team just drafted No. 1 pick Trevor Lawrence at quarterback last week.
The move is also significant because Tebow hasn’t played professional football in nearly a decade. According to FOX Sports, Tebow hasn’t played in the NFL in 3,053 days!!!
This is the latest development in what has been a storied career. Born in 1987 after a near-fatal gestation, Tebow was home-schooled by his parents. Despite having never enrolled, he was allowed to play at — and then scouted at — Allen D. Nease High School in Jacksonville, Florida. He went to the University of Florida, where he played quarterback.
Tebow’s stellar play made him the first sophomore to win the Heisman Trophy. He broke the SEC record for most rushing touchdowns by a quarterback in a single season (with 20) in 2007. And he scored rushing TDs in 10 consecutive games — a record for the school. Tebow led the Florida Gators to 13-1 records in 2008 and 2009, breaking more records in the process. In his last college game (the Sugar Bowl, vs. Cincinnati) Tebow threw three touchdowns, ran for another, and racked up 533 total yards of offense — more than anyone in Bowl Championship Series history, according to ESPN.
Tebow signed an $11 million deal with the Denver Broncos in 2010. He began as a backup quarterback but started the last three games of the 2010 season. He rushed for 78 yards in a game versus the Oakland Raiders, including a 40-yard TD run — the longest touchdown run in history for a Broncos quarterback. His first career victory came the day after Christmas 2010. After being down 17-0 at halftime, Tebow rallied the Broncos to a 24-23 win over the Houston Texans.
While he started as a backup in the 2011 season, Tebow replaced Kyle Orton at halftime against the San Diego Chargers. He was later named the starting quarterback. The next week, versus the Miami Dolphins, Tebow was sacked six times but came back from a 15-0 deficit to help the Broncos win 18-15 in overtime. It was the start of a sensational season.
Tebow, a devout Christian, often knelt on the field in prayer before playing. The practice became known as “Tebowing” and drew significant media attention. But so did his play. With Tebow at quarterback, the Broncos won six straight games during the 2011 season. Four of them were dramatic come-from-behind victories in which they pulled off last-minute rallies. After beating the Oakland Raiders and Kansas City Chiefs, the Denver Broncos’ comeback win streak began.
In November 2011, Tebow helped his team to a surprise win on “Thursday Night Football”. According to ESPN, the Broncos had punted on eight straight possessions when they got the ball with six minutes to spare. Tebow had a 20-yard touchdown run with just 58 seconds left; the Broncos stunned the New York Jets, 17-13. The next week, Tebow ran the ball 22 times to win over the Chargers, 16-13. He notched his third straight comeback win versus the Minnesota Vikings, 35-32. And after being shut out for nearly the whole game, Tebow and the Broncos came back again to beat the Chicago Bears, 13-10.
The Broncos won their division (the AFC West) that year. Then, during the playoffs, the Broncos pulled off yet another dramatic win. After taking a 20-6 lead versus the Pittsburgh Steelers, Denver had to contend with a game-tying surge by Pittsburgh. The game went to overtime, and Tebow launched a far-flung 80-yard touchdown pass to Demaryius Thomas. The Broncos stunned the Steelers, 29-23, for their first playoff win since 2005.
Unfortunately, Tebow struggled during the 2012 season and was ultimately traded. The trade happened as part of a memorable quarterback swap: the Indianapolis Colts drafted Andrew Luck No. 1 and cut QB Peyton Manning. Manning went to the Denver Broncos, who then got rid of Tim Tebow. Tebow went to the New York Jets, where he was contending with QB Mark Sanchez and had little playing time. He was released at the end of the 2012 season.
Since then, Tebow has switched sports. In between brief stints of broadcasting, he became a minor-league baseball player. He played for the New York Mets’ minor-league beginning in 2016; around that time, sports outlets noticed an increase in size that could benefit him at the tight end position.
Tebow retired from baseball in February 2021, according to CNN.
Now, with his first NFL job in nearly 10 years, can Tim Tebow pull off another miracle comeback?
UPDATE (MAY 11, 2021): As news of the deal continues to spread, many are questioning why Tebow is getting a second chance at playing football, but not Colin Kaepernick: