The return of Christian athlete and NFL star Tim Tebow to the sport under the Jacksonville Jaguars last week was met with mixed reactions. The 33-year-old, who left the sport in 2015, has signed with the Jaguars for a year-long contract that will see him play for the team's offseason program and reunite with his former head coach at Florida.
"I want to thank the Jaguars for the opportunity to compete and earn the chance to be part of this team," Tebow said in a statement, as per ESPN. "I know it will be a challenge, but it is a challenge I embrace. I am dedicated to taking the direction of our coaching staff and learning from my teammates. I appreciate everyone's support as I embark on this new journey."
But not everyone was giving Tebow a warm welcome back to the NFL. In fact, several sports fans took to Twitter to show their dismay over his return while NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick, a person of color, has not. Tebow and Kaepernick both famously took a knee as a sign of protest during NFL games for two different purposes. Kaepernick began kneeling during the national anthem that kicked off games beginning 2016 to protest police brutality and social injustice relating to Black Lives Matter, while Tebow took the knee in prayer, as he is an outspoken Christian.
Tebow's recruitment into the Jaguars was not taken lightly by ESPN "First Take" host Stephen A. Smith, who FOX News reported had a "problem" with the situation. Smith, a person of color, said that while it "makes people uncomfortable [that] we're talking about race," he believes that it is Tebow's addition to the Jaguars team was because of "white privilege."
"When we see someone of a different ilk, of a different ethnicity, getting opportunities we know we would never get, that's where the words white privilege come from," Smith argued. "It is white privilege because that's not something that's happening for any brothers out there."
One NFL tight-end is defending Tebow from bashers complaining over his return, however. NFL veteran and tight-end Trey Burton spoke out, as per the Daily Wire, saying, "I don't understand the outrage."
Burton explained that Tebow is no doubt a talented athlete. He argued, "From an athletic and mental standpoint, there's no doubt he'll do a great job. It's the day-to-day physical part, the technique that's the toughest thing."
Tebow is not guaranteed to have a roster spot on the Jaguars for now, as he will be competing with six other right ends on the team's roster. The Jaguars' Trevor Lawrence is also one to look forward to working with Tebow soon, as he followed Tebow's career as early as the NCAA games in Florida. Yahoo! Sports reported that Lawrence described Tebow as a "guy you want to be around" and someone who "does things right" and is a "hard worker," which is why he thinks Coach Urban Meyer brought him on the team.