The public reaction to the news that Tim Tebow would sign a contract with the Jacksonville Jaguars to play tight end didn't cause the Jags to get cold feet. Tebow is officially part of the club.
The QB-turned-TE inked his contract Thursday morning, the team announced, and will join his teammates for offseason workouts.
"I want to thank the Jaguars for the opportunity to compete and earn the chance to be part of this team," Tebow said in a statement. "I know it will be a challenge, but it is a challenge I embrace. 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."
Jacksonville officially begins OTA workouts on Monday.
NFL Network's Ian Rapoport and Tom Pelissero reported early last week that the Jags intended to sign Tebow as a tight end following pre-draft workouts. The report set off a firestorm of reactions ranging from "are you serious?" to "about time" and seemingly every response in between.
The Jags could have decided -- as many teams did years ago before Tebow washed out of the NFL -- that the "distraction" wasn't worth it for a player who remains a long shot to make the roster at a new position. Instead, they plow forward.
Coach Urban Meyer -- likely the only man in the NFL who would give Tebow a shot -- noted after NFL Network reported the imminent signing that the deal wasn't set in stone but spoke glowingly of Tebow's transition.
"There's a thought going around. He was in the best shape of his life, asked to see if he could work out with a couple of our coaches," Meyer told the Cris Collinsworth PFF Podcast last week. "I wasn't even there. They came back to me and said, 'Wow, this guy's in incredible shape.' Then I went another time and watched them try him out. And they said go work on these things, he comes back later. They try him out again, I'm not there, they come in and they said, 'Wow, this guy's ball skills, he's a great athlete, he looks like he's 18 years old, not 20, whatever he is, 33. I said, 'Guys you don't understand, now this guy is, he's the most competitive maniac you're ever gonna talk to and let's give it a shot.'"
Give it a shot they will. And it's a long one.
The 33-year-old earned one official target in his short NFL career. It predictably went incomplete. Now he'll try to earn a job primarily catching the ball and blocking.
Tebow hasn't played in an NFL regular-season game since 2012 with the New York Jets. He had cups of coffee in New England (2013) and Philadelphia (2015) before heading into media and baseball careers.
Now Meyer's former college quarterback is attempting to make the position switch many coaches wished he'd tried a decade ago.
Better late than never, as they say.
A confluence of circumstances led to Tebow's signing in Jacksonville. Meyer's presence was reason No. 1, followed by the unsettled tight end's room currently without an alpha, Tebow's willingness to switch positions, and his apparently noteworthy workout.
With a media career already underway, Tebow isn't making this move as an afterthought or because he's bored. One of the greatest competitors in college football history surely knows the challenge that lies ahead. It's unlikely Tebow makes it to the opening day roster. But he's willing to take the chance given.
The hollow outrage over Jacksonville signing Tebow ignores that clubs often use one of their 90 roster spots on various long shots and temporary players. Teams sign two kickers, punters or long snappers for the summer, knowing they'll cut that player at some point. The bottom of June rosters is littered with players who have very little chance to make a difference come Thanksgiving. Getting worked up over this signing is an exercise in puffery.
Sure, none of those other long shots will garner the attention that comes along with bringing in Tebow, whose official signing came on the same day in which Jacksonville announced the signing of fifth-round pick and tight end Luke Farrell. Perhaps it's simply an effort for Jacksonville -- perennially ignored -- to garner national attention and sell a few extra jerseys. Or maybe it really is simply a new coach giving one of his favorite players of all-time a chance to see if he can build a new career out of thin air.
Once the players take the field for offseason workouts, teammates will quickly know whether Tebow can hang or not. From there, the Jags' next decision will be clear.
For today, Jacksonville and Meyer are willing to see what Tebow can do.
The rest of the football world will be watching, too.