and Urban Meyer are back together in the NFL, but this time Tebow is playing a different position.
The former Florida
star and 2007 Heisman Trophy winner signed a one-year contract with the Jacksonville Jaguars on Thursday and will try to revive his pro career as a tight end, reuniting two of college football
's most divisive figures over the last 15 years.
Tebow, 33, is returning to the NFL after spending five years (2016-20) in the New York
Mets organization, and he will play for Meyer for the first time since his senior year in 2009.
“I know it will be difficult, but it is a challenge I welcome,” Tebow said in a statement. “I am committed to following the advice of our coaching staff and learning from my teammates, and I appreciate everyone’s support as I embark on this new journey.”
Tebow is expected to be on the field with his new team Thursday, wearing No. 85, for a voluntary, closed workout. He is not expected to have any media
availability until training camp, at the earliest, in the hopes of minimizing the media circus that has followed the devout Christian who has received rock star treatment at every NFL stop.
Because of his age, new position, and the fact that he last played in a regular-season game with the New York Jets in 2012, his return is unprecedented.
Tebow was approached by several teams about changing positions years ago, but he declined.
After retiring from baseball
in February, he worked out for the Jaguars the following week, the first of two exploratory sessions revealed hours before the NFL draft
began on April
Meyer praised Tebow's workouts, saying assistants were surprised to see the 235-pounder in such good shape. Ultimately, Tebow's ability to transition to a new position — a number of college quarterbacks have made the transition look seamless — will determine whether he makes the team.
Getting a chance after such a long layoff has sparked debate about preferential treatment, but others argue it's simply the result of a decades-long friendship that now includes Meyer and Tebow living next door to each other in Jacksonville.
Last week, Carolina Panthers defensive tackle DaQuan Jones tweeted, "This Tebow deal
just proves that personal relationships go further at this level than actual ability."
Former Dallas receiver Dez Bryant, current Pittsburgh
linebacker Devin Bush, and Denver
safety Kareem Jackson were among those who slammed the decision.
“So Tebow hasn’t played in an NFL game in nearly a decade and it’s that simple... no hate but you got to be kidding me,” Bryant tweeted.
“He has more lives than a cat,” Jackson added.