JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Some Jacksonville Jaguar fans keep hoping the woeful NFL team will sign hometown hero Tim Tebow.
From flying over EverBank Field emblazoned on an airplane banner and now to a not-so-subtle ad in the sports pages of the Florida Times-Union newspaper, Tebow a local high school football star and Heisman winner at the nearby University of Florida, can’t stay out of the media and cyber spotlight.
Publicly he’s vanished for the most part. But just when the furor over getting Tebow into a Jaguars uniform seems to have been buried in the turf, it rises again.
Dewey Arnette of Jacksonville revealed he’s the “citizens of Jacksonville” behind the advertisement in Monday’s Times-Union asking Jaguars owner Shad Khan to sign Tebow.
The former PGA Tour golf pro’s quarter-page ad reads: “Dear Mr. Khan, Sign Tim Tebow & we will fill the stadium!”
Arnette paid $1,200 for the ad, on top of other lobbying efforts he says he’s helped pay for in Jacksonville. That includes flying a “Tebow Why Not?” banner over the stadium during the Sept. 29 Jaguars-Colts game and buying ad space on place mats at Jacksonville’s Metro Diner.
Jaguars spokesman Dan Edwards said the team -- which has only won a single game this season -- declines to comment on the Tebow matter.
But Arnette said he will probably continue lobbying publicly for Tebow’s future with Jacksonville or a team that appreciates him.
“I want what’s best for Tebow, and if he gets picked up by someone else, I am just happy for him,” Arnette said. “And like others who follow him, that becomes their favorite team. But to avoid wanting a built-in fan base seems absurd to me.”
Eric Holshouser has already been pushing for the Jaguars to pursue Tebow at jags-tebow.com, organizing rallies at 5:30 p.m. Mondays at the stadium. He said he’s talked with Arnette before and was “kind of surprised” to learn how far his support went.
“I met him and he’s always been a supporter but nobody knew,” Holshouser said.
He said even though there aren’t many games left, there is no risk and it could build some excitement in the team.
But plenty of others have either grown tired of the Tebow talk or don’t think he’s a good NFL quarterback prospect.
Gary Schuran wrote a letter in Tuesday’s Times-Union asking whoever took out the ad to “Get over it already.” Reader John Q questioned why the ad is signed “citizens of Jacksonville” when he responded to the story online at jacksonville.com, saying “I do not want him!!! This ad is not from everyone. I wish this would just go away.”
Another reader signed KWGATOR wrote that the former Heisman Trophy-winning, national champion Florida Gator is a good player but “the ship has sailed for Tebow in Jacksonville.”
And a reader signed lendlb says “PLEASE people ... let it go! You look dumb, you’re probably embarrassing Tebow and you’re not going to affect the Jaguars decisions.”
Tebow has a big connection to the Jacksonville area. He played for Nease High School, then won the Heisman in 2007 as a Gator. Selected by the Denver Broncos in 2010, he was traded to the New York Jets, then released. Signed by the New England Patriots in June, he was cut three months later. The 26-year-old is an investor in the new PDQ chicken restaurant at Beach and Hodges boulevards.
Arnette, 54, played on the PGA Tour from 1986 to 1991 and once shared the record for most consecutive birdies in one round. He is now head instructor at the Pink Sands Resort in the Grenadine Islands.
Arnette said he admires Tebow and how he conducts his life. He also has a daughter who went to the University of Florida and was a Roar cheerleader. As for the expense of paying for ads, banners, billboards and radio spots, he said it was less than the price of two Jaguars season tickets.
There has been a persistent push from fans and even some famous folks to get Tebow in teal. A petition onchange.org asks, “Make it clear, we the fans, want the Jacksonville Jaguars to bring in Tim Tebow.” Hollywood action star and martial arts icon Chuck Norris wrote a May column for WND.com that, in part, urged Khan to sign Tebow.
That said, Jaguars General Manager David Caldwell has publicly stated he has no interest in signing Tebow. A group of Jaguars fans called the Bold City Brigade also have organized against signing Tebow.
Tebow’s agent Jimmy Sexton couldn’t be reached for comment, and neither could Tim Tebow Foundation Executive Director Erik Dellenback.
Tebow himself has been laying low. His last posts on his Twitter and Facebook pages were Nov. 12 with prayers for victims of the Philippines’ typhoon. There’s no recent comment on his website, timtebow.com.