The Tim Tebow Effect in Jacksonville
Former Florida Gator Tim Tebow has found himself under the microscope of football fame since he first stepped foot on Florida Field at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. He has been praised for his abilities at the collegiate level, and scrutinized at the professional level. Through all of the hardships Tebow has faced in the NFL, one thing is fairly certain, he will not be suiting up in teal and black this season. Fans of the Jacksonville Jaguars have begged for three seasons now to have Tebow as quarterback in the city. What a day it would be, the hometown hero making the game winning touchdown in front of a sold out stadium! Sounds, like a great picture right?
But what if this doesn't happen? Tebow could be come a huge liability for the Jaguars, who are under new management and coaching staff. The average salary of an NFL quarterback is two million dollars. The teams that Tebow played for previously have a much higher payout for their quarterbacks, and the Jaguars have a much lower standard. Obviously the bigger named quarterbacks that Tebow has played with or has been replaced with are going to make more money, but Tebow is a big name right? Everyone who watches college football knows who he is, and you can't go to a Florida game without seeing "15" or a fake Tebow jersey around the stadium.
Let's look at some numbers. Tebow's replacement for the Denver Broncos, Peyton Manning makes on average $20 million. Tebow's former teammate from the New York Jets, Mark Sanchez makes $8.25 million.
Let's also be realistic here, if you go onto any college campus or into any sports bar and ask people who Tim Tebow is they are going to know. If you ask the same people if they can name the starting quarterback for the New York Jets, some maybe even most, might not be able to come up with the correct answer.
If the Jaguars were to bring in Tebow they wouldn't be able to pay him what Manning or Sanchez are making. The highest paid player on the Jacksonville squad isn't even making what Sanchez is making, that being linebacker Paul Posluszny, at $6.5 million. Even Josh Scobee, the kicker for the Jaguars is making more money ($2.7 million) than the two quarterbacks for the Jaguars combined!
So how much do Chad Henne and Blaine Gabbert make? Henne made $1 million, and Gabbert made just over $900 thousand last season.
It's doubtful and downright ridiculous to think that fans would go as far as being willing to all chip in and collectively pay for Tebow to play for the Jaguars. Though this wouldn't be likely to happen, what has happened is one devoted Tebow/Jaguars fan started a White House petition to have the government force the Jaguars to sign Tebow and make him the starting quarterback. This petition is along-side other petitions like making September 12 George Jones Day (George Jones is a country singer who recently died), finalize standards for gluten-free labeling, and joining America and Australia to form "Ameristralia." Though the petition was removed because it violated the "Terms and Participation" portions of the website, a few hundred people did sign it.
The petition stated that if the Jaguars "sign and START Tebow, home games will be sold out, sales will spike, the team will win and the fans will be happy."
Even if the Jags started Tebow the increase in season ticket sales is unlikely, and that's what would ultimately tell if home games would be considered a sell out. Jacksonville was ranked 17th overall in the NFL for 2012 Football Attendance with home games being at 96.8% full capacity. The Jets ranked 20th at 95.9% and the Broncos ranked 7th at 100.7%. If a team really wanted to sell out games with any player the Miami Dolphins ranked last on the Football Attendance list with a 76.3% full capacity.
The only way sales would spike with Tebow would be merchandise. With Everbank Field almost being sold out for the season, the Jaguars would have to sell thousands of dollars in jerseys and other Tebow paraphernalia to make up for the cost of signing him to a contract. Let's say Jacksonville is willing to pay him what they paid Chad Henne last season- $1 million. The cost of one of the new Nike jerseys for the Jaguars is $99.95, but for this illustration we are going to round up to $100. If the Jaguars were going to pay Tebow solely based on the sales of jerseys and merchandise the team would have to sell ten thousand jerseys to pay Tebow. (this would never happen in the NFL, but again this is just an illustration)
Claiming the team will win is making an empty promise. In something as subjective as sports if the Jaguars were to promise a winning season and didn't deliver the trust of a city could crumble beneath their feet. Though not part of the NFL, the Orlando Predators (the Arena Football League) made such a promise to their season ticket holders and are calling it the "Predators Performance Guarantee" (PPG). If the Predators fail to win at least 10 of their 18 regular season games each season ticket holder will get one game credited to their account for each game Orlando was short of reaching their goal of at least 10 wins. So if the team only won nine games season ticket holders would get one game credited to their account. Anyone who follows the AFL knows that Orlando hasn't been the greatest team in the world the past few years, much like the Jaguars, even with bringing in big name "proven winners" like former Gators quarterback Chris Leak. But even the Jaguars know not to guarantee wins to season ticket holders, especially when there is a whole new coaching staff and players coming in for the 2013 season.
As far as fans being happy, that't not something that can be measured with dollars. Each fan has a different expectation of what's going to make them happy at the game day experience. Some fans aren't happy unless their team is winning, other fans are happy to spend time with friends and family, and still others are happy to pay $7 for a beer and enjoy being out of the house for the day.
The Tim Tebow effect has taken over Jacksonville. Go up to anyone on the street and ask 10 people what they think about Tebow and you will get 10 different answers. One thing is for sure, he won't be coming to play for the Jaguars as long as David Caldwell is the general manager.