Fifty-two weeks to the day after former NFL quarterback Tim Tebow explained his lack of interest in the AAF, Tebow explained his lack of interest in the XFL.
“There was some communication,” Tebow told reporters on Sunday regarding the XFL at a press conference held in connection with his current gig as an aspiring Major League Baseball player in the Mets organization.
“We had a couple conversations,” Tebow added. “But it was pretty clear that this was — I love what they’re doing. I think it has a chance to have success. And I think that’s great. And so I think there needs to be a place for a lot of players that are really good and should and could be playing in the NFL and are better than a lot of NFL players. And there’s a chance they’re going to be seen. So I think it’s awesome and I think it’s good for a lot of guys that are going to get a spot on an NFL roster because they’re going show a team that they’re worth it. But for me this is what I wanted to do and pursuit it and be all in and just, yeah.”
A year ago, Orlando Apollos coach Steve Spurrier had been trying to get Tebow to play in the AAF.
“[T]hey’ve called a lot,” Tebow said on Sunday, February 17, 2019. “Coach Spurrier keeps calling and I love coach Spurrier. It was easy even though it was an awesome offer. . . . I’m all-in on baseball and no way could I stop and not give this a chance after everything that I’ve worked for.”
Tebow last played in a regular-season football game in 2012, only one season after Tebowmania took the NFL by storm. Following one season with the Jets, however, the 2010 first-round pick of the Broncos never managed to make a 53-man roster, despite opportunities with the Eagles and Patriots. He turned to baseball in 2016, after opting not to pursue the CFL or any other non-NFL football league.
It’s unclear what the XFL offered Tebow, but his quote that “it was pretty clear that this was” before pivoting in a different direction suggests that the XFL wasn’t willing to deviate from a no-frills financial structure that makes no exceptions for big-name players. Which has left the XFL with precious few, if any, big-name players. And with not nearly enough quality quarterbacks.
Of course, none of this means that Tebow would amount to a quality quarterback, in the XFL or anywhere. But he would drive plenty of interest and ticket sales and jersey sales and attention for an upstart league that very soon will be struggling to draw attention away from the Scouting Combine and NCAA basketball conference tournaments and NFL free agency and March Madness and other sporting events around which fans plan their schedules.
The XFL currently doesn’t compel the vast majority of fans to set aside time to watch games. If it had players like Tebow or Johnny Manziel or Colin Kaepernick or college players not yet eligible for the draft like Trevor Lawrence, maybe it would.