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Thursday, January 10, 2013
Does Jacksonville even want Tim Tebow?

By Lynn Hoppes

Tebow Fan
Will we see Tim Tebow in a Jaguars uniform this fall? We talk with media who cover the team.
Editor's note: Late Thursday afternoon, new Jaguars general manager Dave Caldwell has dismissed the possibility of Tim Tebow joining the team. "I can't imagine a scenario where he would be a Jacksonville Jaguar," Caldwell said.

In Las Vegas this morning, New York Jets quarterback Tim Tebow will launch his new line of headphones for SOUL Electronics at the 2013 International CES, the world's largest innovation event.

Tebow will greet his fans during the day and then party at night with friend and SOUL Electronics creator Ludacris.

In Jacksonville, Fla., this afternoon, David Caldwell will be formally announced as the new general manager of the Jacksonville Jaguars, in charge of turning around one of the league's worst teams. He'll also talk about the firing of head coach Mike Mularkey.

Tebow knows fans in both cities will be talking about football. What does Tebow think about his season in New York? Will he be traded or cut? Will Caldwell want to bring Tebow back to his hometown to compete for the starting quarterback job?

Jets teammate Mike DeVito, last week, told WFAN that he didn't think Tebow was given a chance to succeed in New York. Tebow completed only six passes for 39 yards and carried the ball 32 times for 102 yards.

“I think he’s a great leader, I think he’s a guy that could have won games for us, and I think that’s why we had him here,” DeVito told WFAN. "... You put Tim in there, I think we win games. I really believe that.”

ESPN reported in December that it is a virtual certainty Tebow will land a job back home with the Jaguars in 2013. Tebow reportedly will be traded or released, but league sources told ESPN's Chris Mortensen the Jets are likely to honor Tebow's forthcoming request to be released and therefore become an unrestricted free agent.

Because he's still under contract with the Jets, no other team can talk about Tebow. So Playbook reached several people with Jacksonville or Florida ties to talk about Tebow's future.

Tebow Fan
A Jaguars fan holds a sign during the second half of a game against the New England Patriots.
Gene Frenette
lead columnist, Florida Times-Union in Jacksonville

"I think it'll only be a positive if there is a specific role for him and he actually can contribute to the team winning. I have my doubts whether he can do that as a starting quarterback. I don't think it's smart just to bring him in to create a buzz. You can talk about marketing until the cows come home, but if you don't win, it doesn't matter. I know that the owner previously was enamored with him when Denver was trying to trade him. I think he nudged the general manager, Gene Smith, to make a play for him. I don't think deep down in the hearts of Smith and coach Mike Mularkey [they] were on board. But, in the end, the owner is the boss. Ticket sales here were about 97 percent this past year and you're talking about a 2-14 team that has gone five straight years without making the playoffs. I think Tebow would sell tickets in the beginning but eventually how much is he contributing to the team winning? Would people buy tickets to see Tebow in a Jaguars' jersey when he's in on four or five Wildcat plays? I don't know. There is a decent segment of fans who are curious to see whether it could work here. In Denver, I saw some games where he was god-awful for a high percent of the series. He turned it on at the right time. He was beneficiary of incredible breaks. I would say at this moment I don't know whether I'll be seeing him in a Jaguars uniform this fall. Right now, it's totally up in the air whether we'll see him here."

Alan Verlander
Executive Director for Sports & Entertainment
City of Jacksonville

"I think the city definitely wants Tebow. Every city is proud of the people who come out of it and make something of themselves. Tim has certainly done that in a lot of different ways. Anytime you can bring a hometown hero back to your hometown football team, it's huge for the city. We want a winner. He's a winner off the field. Can he be a winner on the field? We'll leave that to the smart people on the football side of the ledger to figure out. People here are used to champions with all our Gators fans, Seminoles fans and Hurricanes fans. We're hungry. Watch out when we start winning. This thing could explode."

Sam Kouvaris
Sports director at WJXT-TV in Jacksonville, lived in town for 32 years

"Tim will definitely be a Jaguar this year. I've known him since he was 11 years old. History has shown that every opportunity he has had he's been successful. He raises the level of the play of people around him. But his skill set is dramatically different than what NFL offenses are wanting these days. If you take him, you have to realize there will be a constant drum beat of people -- not necessarily football fans -- who will believe in him no matter what. You have to prepare yourself that it is part of the deal. Jets did a disservice to him by bringing him in and not playing him. I think what they are doing in Seattle and Washington shows that his style can flourish."

Gregg Doyel
national columnist, CBSSports.com
University of Florida graduate, 1992

"Overwhelmingly, Jaguars fans don't want him. That's according to my Twitter feed. Jaguars fans are telling me the new owner doesn't need a bearded lady or a freak show. The Jaguars fans think they are on solid ground. They don't need a carnival show to sell tickets. If you don't need to sell tickets, then you don't need him. He can't play. That's just the fact. It takes a small person not to like Tim Tebow. He's a genuinely good guy. If you don't like a guy who gives as much time to cancer patients as he does or to those down on their luck, you need to look in the mirror to see what's wrong with yourself."

Tony Boselli
Weekly radio host in Jacksonville
Former Jaguars lineman (1995-2001)

Tebow Family
Tebow's parents, Bob and Pam, wouldn't have to go too far to watch him play.
"I don't think you can make a blanket comment on whether Tim Tebow is right for Jacksonville. The Florida Gators fans love him but there are many non-Gators fans who don't care about Tim Tebow and want an NFL quarterback to get them back winning. I think, if I'm Tim, I'm going to where I think I have the best chance to compete to be the starting quarterback. I do think some teams will shy away from him because of the media circus. It's not even Tim's fault. Teams don't want a distraction because the media is focusing on one guy. They want the focus to be on the team and the organization. Tim is a polarizing individual and it's no fault of his own. If you want him as your quarterback, you'll have to change your offensive scheme to his strengths. If you're willing to do that, you have a chance for Tim and your organization to be successful."

Mike Bianchi
lead columnist, Orlando Sentinel
University of Florida graduate, 1985, and previously worked in Jacksonville

"The city of Jacksonville absolutely wants Tebow. That city has the biggest Gators following of any city in America. It's an NFL city but a college football town. And Tebow epitomizes college football and he is the biggest cultural icon in college football history. Of course, they want him. A huge segment of the Jaguars fans are also Gators fans. I think Jaguars fans are tired of being irrelevant. One thing Tebow would do is make their team interesting. Even if Tebow is a one-year wonder, it's better than a decade-long malaise of irrelevance. They say Tebow might be a sideshow. But a sideshow is better than no show. Every quarterback drafted in the first round has been given a chance to have a team built around him. You can develop and learn from your mistakes. Tebow was never given that. He was thrown in last year in Denver and then the Jets don't use him. He's never had a chance. Blaine Gabbert had two years to learn a system in Jacksonville and develop. Brandon Weeden. Christian Ponder. Teams are built around them. Tim has been successful at every level. High school state championships. All-time leading passer in Florida high school history. SEC passing efficiency leader at Florida. He won national championships. He is the ultimate winner and the ultimate leader. I don't know if he will be a successful quarterback in the NFL. But if you're a team like the Jaguars, why don't you at least give him an opportunity? You have nothing to lose."