Monday, September 13, 2010

Personal foul, Jaguars. 15 yards....

Does anyone remember this guy? He was Tim Tebow, the 2007 Heisman Trophy winner and "hometown hero," being honored by the Jacksonville Jaguars in December '07 at the game against the Oakland Raiders.

Those were the days. But do you know who he is now?
In JAX, he's this guy.

If you weren't at the game you may not know that as part of the pregame festivities the Jaguars' mascot kicked around a guy in a Tebow jersey and then the Jags' teal men dragged him off the field. Later in the game the Jags' mascot shoved a cake in #15's face. In a third video skit the Jags' mascot tripped up a guy wearing an Orton jersey and fans had to guess which "foul" Jaxson deVille had committed.

After the game these three gags were the subject of most the conversation, and like with most things Tebow, everyone was sharply divided. Gators and Jags alike thought they were funny, no big deal. And Gators and Jags alike found them embarrassing, rude, and showing very bad judgment by the Jags front office.

We fall somewhere in the middle on this divide because of the reactions we saw on several kids' faces. In the section where we were sitting there were half a dozen or more boys wearing Tebow jerseys, some his Gator jersey and others his Broncos jersey, but the parents were decked out in Jags gear. Imagine seeing your mascot bungy jump off a tower, slide down a wire, and then kick the butt of an opposing mascot. Very cool.

But now imagine seeing your mascot bungy jump off a tower, slide down a wire, and then beat up a guy wearing a #15 jersey, the same one you are wearing, and kick the butt of your hometown hero in the same stadium you saw him celebrated as the first ever sophomore to win the Heisman and break Herschel Walker's rushing TD record. Not good.

We saw the looks on several of those boys faces, the confusion and even anger on one, and then the faces of the moms and dads in Jags gear who didn't know what to say. One dad just sort of hugged his son and rubbed his back.

Like it or not, the reason the game was sold out was because people wanted to see "hometown hero" Timmy Tebow play in his first regular season NFL game as a pro. And many of those people brought their sons and daughters to catch a glimpse of a guy they'd like their kids to look up to and not to see him kicked around by the team mascot.

Hey Jags front office, you won the game, but think of what you lost in the long run. Possibly the respect of the next generation of Jags fans and ticket buyers, and people who just want to see Timmy do well, because after all he is still their hometown hero.

Take a lesson from some college kids. College mascots duke it out amongst themselves, they don't beat up effigies or actors dressed up as players for a reason. It's disrespectful to your opponent and to the game.

And Bob Tebow was right, how quickly you go from being the G.O.A.T to a goat.

Photos courtesy AD and EC.