14 Years After Taking Darren McFadden’s Heisman Trophy, Tim Tebow Lucks Back into the NFL

For some reason, after nearly six years out of the sport, Tim Tebow feels like he should play NFL football again.

Maybe, at age 33, he’s tired of being a talking head who occasionally gets called out for doubting the Razorbacks and wants the glory of the gridiron once more.

Perhaps he’s simply bored and wants a challenge.

Whatever the reason, no experienced NFL head coach would seriously consider taking a nearly 34-year-old Tim Tebow who, so many years ago, couldn’t even make it past the preseason with the Patriots and Eagles.

But, lucky for Tebow, he has just the right hook up to provide him the pipe dream platform he needs.

Urban Meyer, Tebow’s college coach, is entering his first year as the head coach of the Jacksonville Jaguars and needs something besides Trevor Lawrence to drum up interest in the franchise.

Signing Tebow to a Jaguars contract, which is going down this week, and then expecting him to learn an entirely new position (tight end), certainly checks off all the boxes needed to spark a media circus.

Meyer is trying to make it sound like Tebow actually has a realistic chance to the make the 53-man roster.

That the fact Tebow has a great competitive nature and is “in the best shape of his life” actually have bearing on whether he has the skills needed to make such a transition.

“Don’t nobody give a damn about your competitive nature, your competitive spirit,” ESPN’s Marcus Spears said of his SEC Network co-host.

“The game of football is, ‘Can you do a job to help us win games?’ That is where we find the line in the sand. That is where this thing gets complicated.”

“I don’t believe you can be away from this game this long, never play in a position, and come back and say, ‘Yeah, I’m going to do this’ in the pros, against guys who have been doing this the last eight years that you’ve been out in TV and playing baseball.”

“That’s my belief. I could be wrong, and Tim has proved people wrong in his life,” Spears says in the video below.

“We’ll see what happens; I just don’t see it happening that way.”

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So, what’s the harm in Tebow trying?

The harm is that Meyer — who has already proven he can be too loyal to people in his inner circle to the point of hurting his current team — is letting Tebow take up practice time and resources that could go to a younger player who deserves them more.

Of course, Tebow taking things that should have gone to someone else is nothing new.

Nearly 14 years ago, in New York City, Tebow took the Heisman Trophy that should have gone to Darren McFadden.

Darren McFadden and Tim Tebow

Darren McFadden, the greatest running back in Arkansas football history, is a flag bearer for the greatest college football players never to win a Heisman Trophy.

In 2006 and 2007, he set numerous program records, twice won the Doak Walker Award for the nation’s best running back and delivered some of the most impressive performances in SEC history.

Late in the 2007 season, McFadden ran for an SEC-record 323 yards against South Carolina.

Then, just a few weeks later, he churned out 206-yard, three-touchdown performance to lead Arkansas to a triple-overtime win at No. 1 LSU.

That led to Houston Nutt’s iconic post-game interview with CBS’ Tracy Wolfson in which he touted his star player:

“You all better put him in the Heisman. I’m tired of him being No. 3 or No. 4. Somebody better look at this guy.”

“He’s the best football player in the country and his name’s not being mentioned. Lou Holtz, Mark May, No. 5, you better look at him a little closer.”

“He’s a football player.”

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That football player wound up finishing No. 2 in the Heisman Trophy race.

First, to Ohio State quarterback Troy Smith in 2006.

Then, heading into the vote a year later, Darren McFadden felt he had the edge on other finalists like Tebow, who was leading Florida to a 9-4 season a year after winning the national title, and Hawaii quarterback Colt Brennan (who recently died).

For the most part, McFadden felt like he would win it, although he later told Bo Mattingly he had concern with the pre-award videos highlighted Tebow’s upbringing doing missionary work compared to McFadden’s hardscrabble upbringing in Little Rock.

McFadden insinuated he felt that disparity might have influenced the voters to lean toward the goody two shoes, had they been aware of the differences before voting.

Tebow was announced over McFadden as the first sophomore to win the Heisman Trophy.

He’d put up video game type numbers in that single season, to be sure, but had not shown the overall dominance in every facet of the game like McFadden had.

Whether it was running the ball, throwing the ball out of the Wildcat formation, or returning kickoffs, McFadden was as exciting as playing online pokies at SkyCity. The man was not only the best running back in Arkansas football history, but ranks with Matt Jones as the most singularly exciting Razorback ever.

In the end, it wasn’t enough to beat the golden boy, Tim Tebow.

On the Hog Pod with Bo Mattingly, McFadden says he gives credit to Tebow for the great 2007 season he had.

Still, “it felt like a ton of bricks had just hit me because I was sitting there and I was very confident that I would be winning the Heisman.”

“I had to cheer for him and tell him good job and everything.”

“But you know, I was really in shock sitting there. I was like ‘Man, how did that just happen? I just knew I was going to be the Heisman winner this year.'”

“I couldn’t do nothing but take it in stride, man. It would’ve been a great honor, but at the end of the day it didn’t make me who I was, it didn’t make me the player that I was.”

“At this point I can talk about it and laugh with people and tell them my honest opinion on how I feel about it.”

“But you know, it’s not a big bother to me.”

At least McFadden can rest easy knowing he had a much better NFL career than Tebow.

And it will stay that way regardless of how long Urban Meyer keeps entertaining the ridiculous proposition that a rusty Tim Tebow can play tight end in the NFL.


For the full in-depth Darren McFadden interview, listen here:

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