"I share your sentiment. When is the next time Jacksonville is gonna have an athlete like Tim Tebow?" -- Jacksonville Jaguars owner Shahid Khan, responding to a caller on a Jacksonville talk show just before the Super Bowl in 2012
Back then, the talk wasn't about whether or not Tim Tebow could play quarterback in the NFL, but where his next landing spot would be.
On March 22, 2012, after a trade to the New York Jets from the Denver Broncos hit a contract related snag, it was reported that Tebow had a choice -- he could accept the trade to the Jets or accept a trade to his hometown Jacksonville Jaguars.
At the time, the Jags were floundering, coming off of Year 1 of the Blaine Gabbert Era which played to very little critical praise in front of square yards beyond square yards of tarp covering entire sections in the Jags home stadium. New ownership and Tebow's immense, seemingly unconditional popularity in his hometown pointed toward Jacksonville being an ideal spot for the local hero. There, he could complete fifty percent of his passes and go 5-11 every season with no fear of reprisal.
Of course, Tebow chose to go to the Jets and the rest is some really awful history if you're a Tebow sycophant.
Tebow went to the Jets with hopes that a) New York would provide a bigger, broader platform for his off the field endeavors (spiritual and commercial) and b) he could at least blend in as a change-of-pace quarterback and, deep down, perhaps take over as the starter once Mark Sanchez eventually impaled himself on the ass of one of his offensive linemen as he tried to scramble.
Well, it didn't work out that way. Not even close.
Like the rest of the Jets, Tebow endured a miserable 2012 season, appearing in 12 games and never starting a single one, despite Sanchez's finishing 31st among starting quarterbacks in passer rating. Eventually, Tebow was dropped by the Jets in late April with very little fanfare.
Of course, we all know what happened from there -- signed by the Patriots in June
as a favor from Bill Belichick to Urban Meyer, Tebow floundered through the preseason and was eventually cut when the Patriots had to reduce their roster to 53, effectively putting a cap on the NFL career of one Timothy Tebow (at least as long as he insists on playing quarterback). Back in 2011, the peak of the Tebow Era in the NFL, when Tebow was managing the Denver Broncos through a minefield of unprecedented luck just to get to 8-8, Tebow Nation was hundreds of thousands of true believers strong. While most sane NFL fans saw Tebow for what he was (and still is) -- a nice guy, obviously very strong in his faith, who is not very good at playing quarterback -- the Tebowmaniacs saw him as the next big thing, the new wave, something that transcended the status quo.
And there really were throngs of these people. THRONGS.
But eventually, the shine came off in New York, and Tebowmania became more of a storyline kept alive by the media than an actual phenomenon. To wit, Bill Belichick's first press conference after the Patriots' Tebow signing where the coach deferred on every Tebow-related question and smothered any media-concocted Tebowmania in about eight minutes.
Indeed, the 2012 season slowly choked out Tebowmania, and the Belichick press conference finished the job.
Which brings us back to what's left of those Tebow sycophants...
On Monday, a rally was held in front of Jacksonville's EverBank Field. It started at 3:16 p.m. and ran three hours and sixteen minutes, an obvious biblical homage to the "John 3:16" tribute Tebow sports on his eye black. The goal for those who showed up was to pressure the 0-2 Jaguars into signing Tim Tebow.
And for the most popular high school athlete in the history of the city, for a team that sports Blaine Gabbert and Chad Henne as their two quarterbacks, a franchise on the brink of possibly moving to London and on the fast track to 2-14 again, how many of the hometown Tebow zealots showed up?
Around a dozen. Total.
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In fact, not surprisingly, there were more media members at the rally than there were fans, completely confirming what I said earlier -- at this point, there are more media members interested in covering Tebow than there are fans interested in consuming him.
Tebowmania is dead in much the same way the Jedi were dead after the Clone Wars in the Star Wars saga -- there are a few of their order left, but most of them were finally run off and destroyed by Darth Belichick.
Unlike the Jedi, though, the Tebow maniacs will not rise again. Instead, like the nearly extinct animals at the San Diego Zoo, they will be left to breed amongst themselves in a very small corner of captivity (Jacksonville) constantly teetering on the brink of total annihilation.
Listen to Sean Pendergast on 1560 Yahoo! Sports Radio from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. weekdays and nationally on the Yahoo! Sports Radio network Saturdays from 10 a.m. to noon CST. Also, follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/SeanCablinasian.