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Tim Tebow will not be the primary NFL coaching camp sideshow

The Jacksonville Jaguars signed Tim Tebow, and everybody misplaced their dadgum minds.

It appeared outrageously unacceptable that the Jaguars would dedicate a coaching camp roster spot to a 33-year-old who hasn’t performed soccer in six years and is trying to transition from quarterback to tight finish. It wasn’t exhausting to really feel cynicism towards the Jaguars and Tebow, particularly when his jersey shortly jetted to the highest of the NFL’s gross sales listing.

There may be, nonetheless, one other technique to view the coaching camp sideshow coming to Jacksonville later this summer time, one that’s decidedly much less indignant and extra in keeping with NFL historical past. Because it seems, a number of NFL groups have used summer time roster spots for less-than-super-serious functions. They only got here at a time when there was much less scrutiny on each personnel transfer.

A few of these experiments labored out, most of them didn’t. However all of them have offered lasting wrinkles within the story of professional soccer. What follows are a handful of notable examples, all reminders that soccer is meant to be enjoyable and that some groups do not take the ninetieth roster spot as severely as you.

Nobody laughed when Lesnar began telling those that he needed to strive professional soccer. At 26, he was eight years faraway from his final highschool sport. However he had uncommon bodily traits, as a 286-pound skilled wrestling champion who ran the 40-yard sprint in 4.7 seconds and had a 35-inch vertical leap. He additionally benched 475 kilos, squatted 695 kilos and had delivered a convincing imply streak by way of his WWE character.

The Vikings have been a pure touchdown spot, given his historical past as an All-American wrestler on the College of Minnesota. Coach Mike Tice hoped to boost camp, if nothing else, and proprietor Purple McCombs knew a profitable sideshow when he noticed one.

Sporting No. 69, Lesnar appeared in preseason video games as a defensive sort out and a canopy man on kickoffs. His most notable second, although, was getting concerned in a collection of fights with Kansas Metropolis Chiefs offensive linemen throughout a joint observe. At one level, Lesnar ripped the helmet off a Chiefs participant and, after being despatched to the sidelines, stirred close by followers right into a frenzy.

In the end, the educational curve proved too steep. Lesnar went again to wrestling and stored pushing for brand new areas to dominate. He discovered one a couple of years later and gained the undisputed heavyweight championship within the UFC.


1963: George Plimpton in Detroit Lions camp

Plimpton, 36 on the time, was a author who helped pioneer immersive sports activities journalism. In different phrases, he figured that a great way to report on one thing was to take part in it. So he began pitching NFL groups on a coaching camp invite as a “last-string quarterback” to provide him materials for a e book. Plimpton discovered a taker within the Lions, who hadn’t been to the playoffs in 5 seasons and would not return for an additional eight.

The e book was referred to as “Paper Lion,” during which Plimpton demonstrated the huge hole between newbie {and professional} athletes. Coaches and staff executives have been conscious of the bit, however Plimpton requested them to not inform gamers as a result of, he wrote, “I would prefer to be regarded as simply one other rookie.”

Sporting No. 0, Plimpton obtained a handful of snaps in an intrasquad scrimmage — the offense moved backward on every play — and had hoped to play in a preseason sport earlier than commissioner Pete Rozelle barred it, in accordance with later experiences. However the expertise was wealthy sufficient to spawn a e book that led to a film starring actor Alan Alda, who obtained a Golden Globe Award nomination for his efficiency. The Lions went on to 5-8-1 file, lacking the playoffs, however their points went far deeper than a faux backup quarterback.

5 a long time later, Plimpton’s e book spawned the same undertaking. Writer Stefan Fatsis satisfied the Denver Broncos to let him kick of their 2008 camp and later printed a e book titled, “A Few Seconds of Panic.”


NFL groups had been pursuing monitor stars for many years by the point Nehemiah entered the scene. However Nehemiah, who had set a world file in 110-meter hurdles the 12 months earlier than, generated a frenzy amongst NFL squads when he expressed a want to play within the NFL. Washington figured it had the within monitor on signing him, given Nehemiah’s time as a College of Maryland scholar, however the 49ers swooped in with the primary contract ensures in franchise historical past to safe him as a coaching camp receiver.

In actuality, these ensures ensured that Nehemiah would make the staff — despite the fact that it had been 5 years since he performed soccer. Given his velocity, it made sense to place him on the sector if for no different motive than to stretch defenses.

Like his monitor/soccer predecessors, he struggled with drops. For a time, his identify was synonymous with the concept elite velocity cannot paper over inexperience with the sport itself. However the true turning level in his profession, he later informed Sports activities Illustrated, got here when he was knocked unconscious by successful in 1983.

In 40 video games over three seasons, Nehemiah caught 43 passes for 357 yards and 4 touchdowns.


1969: Jimmy “Oops” Hines in Miami Dolphins camp

A gold medalist on the 1968 Olympics, Hines was the primary man to interrupt 10 seconds within the 100-meter sprint. That was greater than intriguing for NFL groups, who had additionally pursued fellow 1968 star Tommie Smith and would later do the identical for John Carlos. The Dolphins, who have been of their third 12 months of existence and had a mixed 7-21 file of their earlier two seasons, drafted Hines in 1968. Primarily based on his 100 time, Hines certified because the quickest participant within the historical past of the NFL at that time.

However he had by no means performed soccer earlier than, and let’s simply say Hines earned his nickname throughout coaching camp. After assigning him the No. 99, the Dolphins discovered that he could not catch the ball with any consistency. They did not hand over on him, nonetheless. In spite of everything, you may train folks to catch, however you may’t train velocity. Or so that they thought.

Hines spent the 1968 season on a taxi squad. He made it onto the sector for 9 video games in 1969 for the Dolphins and one for the Chiefs in 1970. He completed his NFL profession with two receptions for 23 yards, one 7-yard carry and a 22-yard kickoff return.


1965: “Bullet” Bob Hayes in Dallas Cowboys camp

A few of these unorthodox experiments have really labored. To be honest, Hayes had extra soccer expertise than many of the different monitor stars that NFL groups later tried to transform. He had been recruited to play soccer at Florida A&M, the place he additionally developed into an Olympic-level sprinter.

The Cowboys and Denver Broncos each used future draft picks to safe his rights in 1964, after which he went to the Olympics and gained two gold medals. He joined the Cowboys in the summertime of 1965. Nobody knew what to anticipate, however his influence was rapid: Hayes’ velocity was the discuss of camp.

“It was like he was melting, he was so quick,” fellow receiver Frank Clarke reportedly mentioned.

He may catch, too. Defenders could not stick with him, they usually misplaced floor on even the shortest routes. Hayes led the league in landing receptions in each 1965 and 1966. His velocity modified the sport, requiring defensive coaches to sharpen zone defenses and sparking an intense scouting seek for velocity from any supply.

Hayes was inducted into the Professional Soccer Corridor of Fame in 2009, having completed his profession with a telling common of 20 yards per reception.

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