CBSSports.com Senior NFL Columnist

Listen up, Jaguars: Super distraction Tebow a sideshow, not a QB

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Could Tim Tebow's huge popularity in Florida become a liability in Jacksonville? (Getty Images)  
Could Tim Tebow's huge popularity in Florida become a liability in Jacksonville? (Getty Images)  

Forget Terrell Owens or Randy Moss or Brandon Marshall or any other player who supposedly is nothing but a major distraction.

The biggest distraction for any team right now is the lefty quarterback with a cult following who happens to be the most polarizing figure in sports, even if it isn't his own doing.

So I ask this: How does a team trade for Denver's Tim Tebow?

Mostly, I'm talking about the Jacksonville Jaguars.

I live in Jacksonville. I covered the Jaguars from their infancy. I know the market. I know that so many perceptions about the city and the team in the national media are so wickedly wrong.

I also know this: The Jaguars will consider Tebow.

If they do make a move on him, the team would go from a pro football team to the second best circus this side of Ringling Bros.

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Step right up and see the sideshow.

The Jacksonville front office wants no part of Tebow -- in exchange for anything more than a late-round pick. But the talk is that owner Shahid Khan is more than intrigued with the idea of acquiring Tebow.

That would be a bad sign all the way around if it happens. When Khan took over as the team's owner in January, he slobbered over general manager Gene Smith, who, with his approval, received a three-year contract before the sale was complete.

Now a move to get Tebow would be the owner playing a power play on his general manager, a GM who flat out hates distractions. He's the same man who cleaned out a locker room of them.

Making the Tebow move wouldn't be good for Shahid Snyder, er, Khan. Memo to Khan: There's only one Jerry Jones.

Khan is a smart man. He's a billionaire because of it. But he has to be smarter about this Tebow quest. I can tell you this with certainty that Tebow might sell some tickets in Jacksonville, but a lot of diehard fans would turn their backs on the team if they do. How many fans would they lose over this?

And forget about the talk that the tarps will come off. The stadium as is right now is bigger than Soldier Field. That's big enough.

Tebow is certainly revered in these parts. He's a local kid. He played at Florida. But the reality is that the Gator fans make up a small part of the city's football fans. There are fans of other schools, such as Georgia and Florida State. There are plenty of northerners who love the NFL and don't care about the SEC. And there are plenty of fans who never stepped foot on a college campus who love the Jaguars and the NFL.

They want a winner. Not a sideshow.

The Jaguars already have quarterback Blaine Gabbert, a second-year player they traded up to get last April in the first round. They also have Chad Henne, who they signed as a free agent.

The front office believes in Gabbert, who became the youngest quarterback (22) in NFL history to start 14 games last season. Yes, he struggled last season, but there were reasons. Bad offense. Bad style. Bad coaching. Bad receivers. He wasn't even allowed to use sight adjustments at the line of scrimmage. You know how restrictive that is for a quarterback?

There are some who insist he isn't tough, that he flinches in the pocket. At times, Gabbert did that. But he improved with his pocket presence as the season moved along, and that was way overblown by media comments made during telecasts. Who wouldn't flinch with two receivers running routes and nobody open and a right tackle playing the role of a spinning top?

Gabbert is everything Tebow isn't: Tall, strong-armed, the prototypical NFL passer. He needs work. He needs an offseason. But he can get there.

As for Henne, he was signed to come in as a veteran backup to Gabbert, a player who could push him if need be.

So where does Tebow fit in?

How about as a role player? Don't laugh. The Jaguars could use him on special teams, in short yardage, and other things like that.

Not as a quarterback.

So I ask Jaguars fans out there: Will you pony up to see Tebow 10 plays a game, not playing quarterback? Didn't think so.

That's the problem. As soon as Gabbert would throw a pick, the vocal minority would want Tebow. Not Henne, the second-team quarterback, but Tebow.

Is that worth the couple thousand tickets or so they would sell?

Tebow-mania is obviously something Peyton Manning didn't want around him in Denver. Would you? The maniacs don't see the kid's flaws. They see perfection. They see the messiah, in more ways than we know.

I see a left-handed passer who isn't accurate, doesn't see the field, and doesn't have the look of ever being a starting quarterback for a consistent winner. I just don't think he's field smart. He may have had some magical moments last year but he's not consistent enough.

If you have to play in a "gimmicked-up" offense, you can't play in the NFL.

Tebow is just not worth all the trouble, even if he's not the one causing it. Who could have imagined the biggest distraction in the NFL would be a kid with spotless character and one of the best role models there is?


Pete Prisco has covered the NFL for three decades, including working as a beat reporter in Jacksonville for the Jaguars. He hosted his own radio show for seven years, and is the self-anointed star of CBS Sports' show, Eye on Football. When he's not watching game tape, you can find Pete on Twitter or dreaming of an Arizona State national title in football.
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