Tim Tebow is infallible in the eyes of all his devoted followers, so it stands to reason that nobody would look into why he won’t admit that he chose the New York Jets over the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Last Wednesday, when news first broke that Tebow was being traded to the Jets, the Jaguars (appropriately) got hammered for not making a move to nab their hometown superstar.
With an owner who’s desperate to make his franchise even marginally relevant and no legitimate, reliable quarterback in place, Jacksonville seemed like a perfect fit for Tebow. Sure he wouldn’t address their offensive woes, most likely, but at least he’d drum up some interest.
Later that same day, word leaked out that New York’s deal for Tebow was in jeopardy of falling apart. That as a result of the Jets unknowingly agreeing to cover their new reserve’s bonus money (which they didn't want to do) when they said they’d acquire him, there was suddenly room for a new team to slip in and steal the most polarizing pop star in sports.
Jacksonville, in an attempt to rectify its earlier mistake, quickly emerged as a frontrunner to pull the robbery (yup, you watch it too) on Mike Tannenbaum and Co. Jags for the win, right? Wrong. We all know what eventually happened. The Jets and Broncos found a deal that worked, and the following Monday Tebow was introduced as Mark Sanchez’s inevitable replacement.
Shortly after everything became official last week, Broncos VP John Elway came out and said that the reason Tebow ultimately landed with N.Y. and not Jacksonville was because he wanted it that way. Here are his exact words to 102.3 ESPN Radio (via Larry Brown Sports):
We did (give Tebow a choice),” Elway said during an interview with 102.3 ESPN Radio in Denver. “There was more from Jacksonville but I think that, you know, we looked at it and it was close enough. We were in contact with Tim throughout the day and talked to him and he knew what was going on the whole time. The reports that he was not involved are not accurate.”
Jags owner Shad Khan reaffirmed this sentiment in an interview with the Florida-Times Union:
"That would have been the worst thing for Jacksonville and the worst thing for him," Jaguars owner Shad Khan told the Times-Union at the NFL’s annual league meetings. "He didn’t want to come, obviously. … Any one of the 53 players we have, have to be committed to Jacksonville, making us be the best team we are. The question was: Did he want to come? And if the decision had been taken out [of his hands] and we got him, that would not be good for him, or for us."
By the end of the negotiations, Jacksonville offered a fourth-round pick and offered to pay $3 million of the $5 million in advance salary the Broncos had already paid Tebow. The money they offered was better than the little more than $2.5 million the Jets agreed to pay by the end of the day. And the Jaguars’ fourth-round draft pick was nine picks higher than the Jets’ fourth-round draft pick.
"I think this is like any negotiation," Khan said. "Our offer kept increasing. … Obviously we were serious."
Everyone besides Tebow seems to agree that it was Tebow who didn’t want to come to Jacksonville. During his Monday morning introduction to the Big Apple, here is how the man of the honor addressed reports that he picked the Jets over the Jaguars (via CBS Sports):
“Coach Fox was keeping me updated. Later in the day, they said, there are a few teams that are interested. They were gracious to ask me what I thought. I told them I would love to be a Jet, but the Jaguars were my hometown. I said whatever was best for the team. They had all the power, but they listened to me and what I had to say. I told them I would love to be a Jet. I love the coaches. I also told them I would love to be a Jaguar.”
That’s a cool story, but also pretty blatantly disingenuous. If the Broncos had a better offer on the table from the Jaguars, why would they not take it unless Tebow asked them not to? And why would both Elway and Khan agree that Tebow didn’t want to come to Jacksonville if he had told Broncos brass that he would have “loved” to be a Jaguar?
Look, there are plenty of reasons that someone would rather play for the Jets than Jaguars, starting with location and ending with personnel. That’s not even worth debating. What is worth questioning, however, is why the beacon of truth and goodness in professional football insists on tap-dancing around the fact that he didn’t want to play in his hometown.
He made the call to go to New York over Jacksonville. We know it, the fans know it and he knows it. So why the weird, childish games about what's pretty much etched in stone?
At the end of the day, people who love Tebow will love him no matter what. And by the same token, the people that despise him will always think he’s terrible. But everyone who was quick to call out Elway for lying to Tebow, if they want to be fair, should be just as quick to call out Tebow for his obvious insincerity on this topic.
What's right is right.