Darren Rovell | ESPN.com
Dewey Arnette insists he’s not the guy to organize a rally or publicly urge others to stand up for something, yet the golf professional, who has tutored the likes of Padraig Harrington and Darren Clarke, has found himself behind the movement to bring Tim Tebow to the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Arnette — who spends time in Jacksonville, Fla., and the Grenadines, and charges $400 an hour for his wisdom on the links — says he was the one who spent $1,200 to buy an ad in the Monday editions of the Florida Times-Union.
“I don’t really get behind causes and hold up signs,” Arnette said. “But this was different.”
“Dear Mr. Khan,” the ad says, referring to team owner Shahid Khan. “Sign Tim Tebow & we will fill the stadium!” The ad is signed by “The Citizens of Jacksonville.”
ESPN asked the Florida Times-Union ad sales department to reveal who was behind the ad. Citing confidentiality, the paper declined to reveal who represented “The Citizens Of Jacksonville” until Arnette gave his permission. It turns out Arnette has been behind a slew of recent Tebow propaganda.
In the past six weeks, Arnette and his son John have gauged the reaction after holding up “Tebow to Jax” signs in Jacksonville’s San Marco Square and handing out Tebow T-shirts in the streets. The Arnettes also have bought ads on radio stations and billboards around town, and have paid to have Tebow phrases written on airplane banners that have flown over stadiums. Dewey Arnette even spent money to put “Tebow to Jacksonville” messages on place mats at the Metro Diner, a local hot spot. The owner of the diner, Arnette said, was so supportive, he gave Arnette a bigger ad than what he paid for.
Tebow, who won the Heisman Trophy in 2007 while at the University of Florida, played his high school ball in Jacksonville.
“I don’t want to come off as odd,” Arnette said. “The thing is, having done these things, I know how supportive people are of Tim Tebow around here. And our standards for the team are just so low right now.”
In two years’ time, Tebow has gone from getting a playoff victory as the starting quarterback of the Denver Broncos to being out of the league. He played sparingly last season with the Jets and was cut from the New England Patriots on Aug. 31.
For their part, the Jaguars, who have lost nine of their first 10 games this season, have seemed disinterested in Tebow. Khan, when asked about the idea of signing Tebow last month, told TMZ, “We need a lot of good players.”
Arnette, whose record of eight straight birdies in a PGA Tour event stood for 12 years, says he’s a realist.
“I expect it to completely fall on deaf ears,” Arnette said. “But I just wanted to give it a try. Yeah, this isn’t one of those real injustices in the world. But I feel bad for him. He deserves a shot.”
In the meantime, Tebow recently signed with CAA broadcasting agent Nick Khan (no relation to the Jaguars’ owner) to figure out a possible on-air future.
- ESPN.com’s sports business reporter since 2012; previously at ESPN from 2000-06
- Appears on SportsCenter, ESPN Radio, ESPN.com and with ABC News
- Formerly worked as analyst at CNBC