The Jacksonville Jaguars are giving Tim Tebow another chance at NFL glory, six years after the former quarterback last suited up on a professional football roster. Tebow hasn’t played in an NFL game in nine years, the last time he saw the field in a regular-season game was a Week 15 loss in 2012 with the New York Jets. Tebow played seven snaps, was sacked once, and finished with three carries for 15 yards in a 14-10 loss to the Tennessee Titans.
If Tebow happens to take the field for the Jaguars this season — in his new position at tight end — he will become just the fifth player in the Super Bowl era to go nine years between regular-season snaps (per NFL research).
Doug Flutie is the most prominent player on the list to go nine years in between games. Flutie last threw a pass in December of 1989 for the New England Patriots before leaving the NFL and spending nine seasons in the Canadian Football League. He returned to the NFL in 1998 with the Buffalo Bills and remained in the league until 2006, playing in 70 games as a quarterback until he retired at 43 years old.
Flutie threw for 12,512 yards with 72 touchdowns and 52 interceptions with the Buffalo Bills, San Diego Chargers, and the New England Patriots — making the Pro Bowl in 1998. He also rushed for 1,289 yards and eight touchdowns.
Two other players in the Super Bowl era went nine seasons between playing regular-season snaps in the league. David Diaz-Infante was a replacement player in 1987 with the San Diego Chargers before returning to the league in 1996 as a long snapper for the Denver Broncos — where he played on Denver’s championship teams in 1997 and 1998. Diaz-Infante played for the Frankfurt Galaxy of the World Football League (later NFL Europe) and the Sacramento Gold Lions of the Canadian Football League between 1987 and 1996. He played for the Philadelphia Eagles in 1999 then returned to the Broncos in 2001.
Tony Adams was a quarterback for the Kansas City Chiefs from 1975 to 1978 before returning to the league as a replacement player for the Minnesota Vikings in 1987. He started three games at quarterback before his NFL career came to an end. Adams was out of professional football seven years before his return to the Vikings.
Tebow will become the first player to spend nine years between regular-season snaps and play a different position — if he does end up playing for the Jaguars in 2021. He can join a rare group of players to return to the league after nine seasons — and the only one to try out a different sport between NFL appearances.